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tv   Author Discussion on History Racial Inequality  CSPAN  April 24, 2022 5:15pm-6:17pm EDT

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hondurans, you know ongoing struggles in haiti. this is all kind of taking place, but we don't have the legal structures in place to assist people as they're being forcibly displaced from their countries. thank you. are there any more questions? and if not, i just want to thank the annapolis book festival for hosting us here today and ollie. norani. thank you so much for for being here. i really appreciate it. the book is called crossing borders the reconciliation of a nation of immigrants. it's an excellent book. please go out and to your local bookstore or amazon and go purchase it. there's a book sale that down the hallway here. so we hope you come visit and thank you very much for everybody for being here. thank you. you're watching the annapolis book festival on book tv television for serious readers. now more from maryland state
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capitol good afternoon, everyone on hope we're starting. my name is noel king. i'm delighted to be here at the annapolis book festival. i am even more delighted that we are seeing each other in person as opposed to overseas. everyone if your cell phone volume is turned on which you might turn it off. and i'll let you know a little bit about the program. we're going to talk about 35 minutes and then we're gonna open it up to audience questions. so i know that you are here to see these two gentlemen not to see me. so come with your questions. we'll have about 15 minutes for you. we we should have plenty of time. the title of this panel is a reckoning how systematic how systemically excuse me racism has shaped our history policies and education and we're really lucky today to be joined by two of the best writers in this country on history and race currently working adam harris is the author of the state must provide why america's colleges
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have always been unequal and how to set them, right? this book is a history of a higher education in this country, and it's a very clear distillation of how much harder black americans have had to fight to get it. it brings to life some household names including thurgood marshall and james meredith and also some names that may be should be a little more familiar adam for many years in brooklyn. i live next to carter g woodson elementary school. i did not know who he was. i found him in your book and i was thrilled if i said this is what it's all about. we are also joined by clint smith his author of the best-selling book how the word is passed a reckoning with the history of slavery across america clint is a poet in addition to being a writer and those of you have who have read the book know that is lyrical account of a kind of tour that clint took a place where black and white americans interacted sometimes to disastrously now one of clint's unique gifts is a writer is that he can go to a place observe talk to anyone hear things that are both funny and also pauling and then
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reserve judgment and we're gonna talk a little bit about how he manages to do that in this house. thank you both so much for for being here. we really had a book come out in 2021. it was about a year after the murder of george floyd when this country was talking a great deal about having a reckoning over race and racial injustice. here we are in 2022 and i think a lot of people myself included want to know did we really have a reckoning over race and racial injustice adam? why don't we start with you? did this country have a reckoning in any real sense? you know, it was it was interesting. well, it was interesting thing so much everyone for being here, you know, one of the the center pieces of my book actually focuses on on historical black colleges and universities right the role that they have historically played in educating a population that the majority of america did not want to see educated for the lion's share of the country's history. and so the institutions are really kind of going through
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this renaissance of attention at this moment, right and through that reckoning you saw an increase in philanthropic donations going to the universities. you saw this sort of crush of money coming from the federal government. but you are also still seeing the sort of piecemeal motions towards making real effective change for the institutions and i think the reckoning only goes it hasn't yet manifested in terms of transformationally changing the situation for a lion's share of people and i think that that is the point if there is a true reckoning that is the point that it needs to. so mackenzie bezos gives a billion dollars to historically black colleges and universities. it doesn't necessarily mean anything changes. yeah, i think you know, none of the institutions, you know several of the institutions received donations that were the largest ever that they had received in their history. sometimes that largest ever donation was five million dollars. sometimes the largest ever
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donation was 10 million dollars and to put that in the context a place like the university of mississippi can make 500 million dollars in five years of private donations. and so to say that you know my alma mater, alabama a&m received to 2.2 million dollar donation last year. it's the largest ever single donation and the 150 year history of that institution. and so i think that thinking about the scope of this past two years and the grander scope of american history. it really is only sort of a blip and whether if it if it continues then i think that's when you start to see that trans. formation clint, what do you think? did anything in this country? i i think that what's happened is over the past 10 years right beginning with the sort of unofficial start of the black lives matter movement if we think about as being trayvon martin's death over the past 10 years there is undoubtedly been a shift in public consciousness, but from millions of people not from anyone, but for many many people who now understand racism
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not just as an interpersonal phenomenon, but a systemic one a structural one a historical one a sociological one. i always joke that like in 2000 12 if you would ask somebody what redlining was they would have been like is that rihanna's lipstick like is that part of the fenty line like red lining? what is that? and so what is true is that now? there are people who have a different lexicon a different language a different toolkit with which understand with which to understand the reason one community looks one way. and another community looks another way is not because of the people in those communities but is because of what has been done to those communities generation after generation after generation, so there has been a shift but we've all so experienced and i think we see this with the sort of critical race theory boogeyman is an intense backlash as well. right because what's happened is that part of what we've experienced. is that because now millions of people are telling a different story about this country a more. wants a more honest a more one that includes multiple perspectives one that takes a set of historical phenomenon and that's what a complicates our understanding of it.
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right? so we don't just understand manifest destiny as this sort of inherent good that brought the us from one coast to another we understand it is something that also killed millions of indigenous people that we don't understand. the homestead act is something that was like, oh, this is great because we're giving a lot of immigrants who are just coming to this country access to land out west. we're all recognizing that black people didn't have access to that same that same land. we're also recognizing that on the way to clearing that land. you also had to kill indigenous people and so that's an example of what it means to sort of complicate stories that have been sort of two-dimensional caricatures of themselves before but if you once you begin the complicate these stories there are many millions of other people who sense of self is tied to the previous story of america, right their sense of identity is tied to the story of america's sort of singularly being the shining light on the hill the story of america is singularly being a place where anybody can make work hard enough and once that version of the american story is revealed to be untrue or a half-truth or only part of the story. i think a lot of people begin to
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experience that not only as a threat to the america they believed in but as a threat to who they understand themselves to be and so it not only becomes a sort of inconvenient need to reassess history. it becomes an existential crisis, right? because who you understand yourself to be as inherently tied to a story of america that millions of people are telling you now isn't necessarily true and i think that part of what we see as a result of that which has happened at every at every moment of black progress throughout the history of this country. is that now their state sanctioned efforts across state legislatures throughout the country to prevent teachers from teaching the very history that explains why the country looks the way that it does today. and so i think part of what we're seeing is like people not only fearing a loss of of material like a material loss but also a loss of their identity and a threat to their sense of self so it's i do think there's been a shift. we can recognize that there are limitations to it and we can recognize that it's the sort of like three steps forward two steps back or three steps back
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depending on the situation in the moment, but i think you we can recognize that there has been a sort of shift in consciousness, even if that shifting consciousness is not necessarily always trend translated into the necessary material or legislative interventions. that would have a real material impact on black communities one of the things that's really clear about. both of your books. is that this country cannot escape its history. it's just not going to happen. america is always going to have to deal with the things we did 400 years ago 300 years ago 200 years ago adam. i was really struck that you chose to write a history of higher education because every reporter knows that education is the hardest beat because you have a very simple story you start with a very simple story and then you realize you need to go back generations to get the context for what you're reporting. why did you choose education? yeah, that's a really good question. so i that it really. i think that it really hinged upon this idea that i was trying to look at inequality more
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broadly right and in the same way that education is a really like straightforward like this is a something that is seemingly simple. but then you start to dig into it. they're all of these additional yet. it's everyone everyone can hear me. all right. okay, perfect. so yeah, the there is a within this idea this broader lens of inequality. i my thought was i want to examine higher education with this idea of of inequality through this lens of inequality right coming from the founding coming from that first address that george washington gave before congress in 1790 where he said there's nothing that better deserves your patronage speaking to to members of congress then higher education because that is where we build good citizens and understanding that at the founding. these are people thinking about this is a place where we develop citizens. this is where people learn national character and yet they were thinking of shutting out an entire class of people as they
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were doing. that was really interesting to me and then working through as i reported on higher education at the chronicle, you know, you would across these these laws or these bills that pass to expand higher education you think about the gi bill and how that expanded access to higher ed. you think about the moral act and how that expand that expanded access to higher education and there were all of these these points right the morale like, it's 17 million acres of land including 10 millions of acres of land that was expropriated from 250 indigenous tribes to give basically give to states so that they could build these illustrious institutions we have now iowa state university auburn university penn state university. cornell is a memorial school and for 30 years these institutions did not the 30 years or longer, you know, most of these institutions did not enroll black students, iowa state university for example the first school to accept that marill land grant didn't enroll its
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first black student until the federal government said that you either have to accept them to the predominantly white institution or create an hpcu in 1890 and that ended up being george washington carver. so if think about the the amount of time that they were able to build credit and currency for the systems that we understand today these institutions and yet you know, you still have flagships that are enrolling 5% black students in a state where you have worth 30 or 40 percent of the high school. graduates are black. i'm going to state like alabama public high school graduates are black or a place like north carolina where unc chapel hill and roll something like 8% black students in north carolina state and rolls five percent right? just kind of looking across the board. there were all of these individual instances and i think one of the things that best helps people understand that sort of injustice is the granularity of it, right the fact that when when ada louise simple fisher is suing to get into the university of oklahoma school of law in the supreme court says you have to enroller
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instead the state of oklahoma rushes a law school and to existence in five days and says, here's your law school, you know, we've hired a part-time faculty. this is where you can go understanding the granularity of all of that. i think is i felt was important. so that's i think why why i really kind of wanted to examine this broader structure and she was just like in a room, right? it was like, you know, it was it was in the capital building. they had the one of the floors of the capitol building they turned into a makeshift a classroom and they hired three faculty members part-time for what would be full-time work and ultimately, you know, she didn't intend he's like no, i'm not going there. but but you you sort of saw the ways that the state was really trying to hold on to this this semblance of separate but equal right? they george mclaurin when he was accepted into the university they put him in the hallway and he was looking into the class
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when the supreme court said they couldn't do that anymore. they put a little bar in the classroom to segregate black and white students. and so just all of the granular and justices i think were we're important and that helped illuminate this broader story and notably the years that this was happening were. so this this was 1947 through these cases were around 1945 through 1951 52 so pre brown v board and they really laid the foundation for brownview board of education. and notably there would be people in this room who were alive during that period of american history. i just think that's the thing that we can sometimes forget. is it really is that close? yes and clinton that is the thing that your book does not allow us to forget is how close so if atoms is very much a history yours is a bit like jack carowex on the road, but it has a point to it so much better book. i'm sorry. i liked karaoke when i was a teenager, so you went to several places eight separate places and you observed you talk to people you came away with your thoughts. i wondered intently.
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how did you decide on the eight places? there are tens of thousands throughout this country that you could have gone. how did you choose these eight? so i think it helps to get a little bit of context for this sort of origin of the book. it was in 2017. i was watching several confederate statues come down in my hometown in new orleans statues of pgt beauregard, jefferson davis robert e lee and i was watching these statues come down and i was thinking about what it meant that i grew up in a majority black city in which there were more homages to enslavers than they were to enslave people and thinking about what are the implications of that? what does it mean that to get to school? i had to go down robert lee boulevard to get to the grocery store. i had to go down jefferson davis parkway that my middle school was named after a leader of the confederacy that my parents do live on the street named after someone who owned over 150 enslave people because the thing is we know that symbols and names and iconography aren't just symbols. they are reflective of the stories that people tell and those stories shape the narratives that communities carry and those narrative check public policy and public policy shapes. the material conditions of people's lives and that's not to say that taking down at 60 foot tall statue of robert e, lee or making juneteenth a federal holiday is going to suddenly
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erase the racial wealth gap, but it does they are things that help us understand the sort of ecosystem of ideas and stories and narratives that shape american history and help us more effectively understand the way that certain communities have been disproportionately harmed through their history. so i began in new orleans and i was thinking about my home town i thinking about having grew up growing up in a place. that was once the busiest slave market in the country and realizing that i didn't understand the history of this city in any way that was commensurate with the impact that it had on my city on my state or my country. and so i kind of began looking around and thinking about what my old professor walter johnson a historian at harvard said he said in his book so by soul about the history of the slave trade in new orleans, he's like the whole is memorial to slavery? it's in the roads and slave people paved. it's in the buildings and sleep people constructed. it's in the soil enslaved people are buried in and so i was thinking about well, what are the places or the people here in new orleans who are talking about this or what are the places that aren't talking about that this but maybe should be talking about this and what are the places doing something in between and then i started to
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kind of got curious about other places throughout the country. so started looking around and visited dozens of different places ultimately ended up writing about eight of them and part of what i love about a book like this this sort of jack kerouac-esque. travelogue if you will is that you know, you can write, you know, adam and i we both have written nonfiction book proposals and in your book proposal. you're like, i'm gonna go to this place. i'm gonna go to this place. i'm gonna talk to this person and then you start writing the book and you're like none of that is gonna so you like go to a place and you you think that you're gonna write about it, but sometimes the story takes you in a different direction. so for example, i thought i was gonna write this big chapter on civil war battlefields. and so i went to petersburg which is where the siege of petersburg happened at the end of the civil war and it was like an interesting place. it was okay, but i was having conversation with the national park ranger after and was telling him about my book project. he was like, oh you should go to this confederate cemetery down the road and i was like, i'm not gonna go to this confederate somebody that is not something i'm gonna do but there's the
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difference between like clint the regular black guy walking around the street and then clint the the journalists and the journalists. it's like two people on your shoulder and one is like don't go to the confederate cemetery and the others like you have to go to the confederate cemetery. and so i went in an end i ended up spending time and talking to the people there and there was this moment that i talked about in the book where the the woman who runs the the site i'm discussing it with her and we're having this conversation about robert e lee and sort of out of the corner of my eye. i see it's kind of thing right here. like she's on one side of the counter. i'm on one side and over there. i'm like, there's a flyer for something. i was like, what's that flyer? i kind of look over and it's a flyer for our sons of confederate veterans memorial day celebration, and she sees me look at it and she's like flicks it over. i was like, well that was dramatic like what and so then she's like, i don't know what that is. i don't know if i don't even know who i don't know who they are. i'm like man you run this site like what are you and so very that was another moment where he was like, okay. i have to i have to go see this site and so then i ended up, you
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know, the chapter ended up being about me spending the day with members of the sun's confederate veterans the united dogs with confederacy at their memorial day event, and and i did not write in my book proposal that i was gonna go do that. i had no interest in in interesting going to do that, but sometimes sorry takes you in the direction that it wants to go and kind of shows you how it wants to be written and that kept happening at various stages throughout this book one of the most remarkable things, and i genuinely as a journalist wanted to ask about this is you have these interactions there are places where you are clearly not so much wanted and you show up anyway, and you don't judge the people who hide the flyer you don't judge the people who tell you i adore thomas jefferson. i don't care what he did with sally hemings you maintain a kind of distance from them and then you leave the scene and then you sort of give us context for what was going on. i think there are a lot of journalists in this day and age who would really want to dive in there and judge. what do you think it is about you that makes you want to observe and not reserve judgment
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you know to your point, i mean, i think there's a version of this book that you know in which i spend the day with the sun's confederate veterans and do like like a daily show kind of thing where it's like trying to like very clearly make them look ridiculous. and for me it was you know, that's not under sort of natural part of my ethos. and i also i really i really wanted to understand why they believed some of the things that they believed right so many things that that run so profoundly counter to the evidence at hand, right? i always think about a conversation i had with guy named jeff. jeff was members of sons confederate veterans had this long salt and pepper ponytail is handlebar mustache this round belly this biker vest with confederate paraphernalia all over it. and we're having conversation. he was telling me about how when he was a boy his grandfather used to take him to this cemetery his grandfather used to bring in this beautiful white gazebo that sat at the center of the cemetery and they would sing
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the old dixie anthem and they watch the deer come out of the forest at night as the sunset beyond the trees and they would watch the fireflies dance from one tombstone to another and his grandfather would tell him these stories about how men buried here. they didn't fight a war for slavery and fight a war to oppress people. they fought a war to protect themselves against northern invasion. they fought a war to protect their culture and protect their families to protect state sovereignty. and then he talks about how he brings now. he brings his daughters to that same cemetery and tells them the same stories that his grandfather told him and tells sings the same songs to his granddaughters that his grandfather saying to him and for me that was a really important and crystallizing moment because it was it demonstrated how for so many people history is not about primary source documents or empirical evidence. it's it's a story that they're told and it's a story that they tell it's an heirloom. that's passed down across generations. it's something where loyalty takes precedence over truth because you're the story is not only are representative of pieces of history, but it's to my point that i made earlier the representative of you the
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representative of pieces of the people you love and so if i were to go to jeff and be like, well jeff, i know you said that the, you know, the war didn't have anything to do with slavery or secession had nothing to do with slavery, but if you look at the declarations of confederates secessionist take like mississippi, very clearly in 1861 says our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery the greatest material interest in the world, so they're not vague about why they're succeeding right? they're quite clear about it. you know, they're quite clear about it and but again that represents like an existential threat to how jeff understands himself because if he accepts that information, he would have to accept that his grandfather's lying to him and if he accepts his grandfather's lying to him he would have to it would threaten to crumble and disintegrate the foundation upon which the relationship was built and then threatened to disintegrate the foundation upon which so many of the relationships in his community and in family are built and so you only get that sort of understanding i think from like jim genuinely approaching somebody and trying to
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understand. why they believe what they believe because otherwise you can go in and just make people caricatures of themselves. right? and the thing, is that like the more unsettling piece of a sun's confederate veterans event for me is that it's not is that it felt like a family reunion right was it was the sort of intergenerational familial piece of it where it was clear how this story was being passed down across generations. it was clear. what was the glue that was connecting people and allowed this story to persist in this way and if i went in when in with a sort of antagonistic disposition or or attempting to like as soon as somebody said something that you know wasn't parently incorrect being like well actually did it die and so in the book, i thought it was a much more effective thing to to just talk to people try to get a real sense of what they believe and then let the let the history speak for itself. right? so if you're like slavery had nothing to do the civil the civil war the next three pages are gonna be evidence about you know, how all of them said. this is about slavery and i just
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thought that for this particular project that was more effective more effective tool. i want to bring you in here because the idea that the civil war was not about slavery. i wonder if we could just do a quick really quick poll. how many people learned that in school? how many people remember learning that in school i certainly do and i was born in 1981. so i learned that the civil war public school. i learned the civil war was about states' rights. we didn't mention slavery very much. we talked about the north wanted one thing in the south wanted another thing and slavery was very unfortunate, but we didn't go in deep in seventh eighth ninth tenth grade. it was not until college that i learned anything and adam. i wonder if you could talk a bit about how education in this country has served to at times explicitly miseducate people and when we leave black voices black professors black students out of conversations by not educating people by refusing to let them go to school. we lose our history because we're only telling one version of the story and that is the
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version that is palatable to people in the classroom. hey, it's a really good question, and there has been historically right it's idea of sanitizing. what what american history is a simplification. of american history, right? it's you know revolutionary war and then some stuff happens, but then you have the civil war and you know states rights and then, you know, luther king and voting rights bill and then civil rights act and barack obama, right? it was it's like a linear. so this linear path of progress. and maintaining to you know clint's point in about you know, how you build this identity around this story. that is a story that allows for a very straight line view of american it is a you know sort of glorification of our founding it is a need to make this place
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more exceptional than it might be right that this was we've always had this eye even if there's been struggles. there's always this eye towards progress and ignores the fact that yes reconstruction happened, but you also happen here right you you have the civil rights, but then you also have the southern strategy right and and that that progress is always met with that that intense pushback, i think about in 1871 when the university of mississippi or when alcorn state university was created as a historically black college and in mississippi, they were given a guarantee appropriation. this is during reconstruction guaranteed appropriation $50,000 a year for at least a decade but 1875 comes the so-called redeemer sweet back into office with the quote unquote white revolution reduce that appropriation to 15,000 a year year later. they reduce it again to 5,500 a year. meanwhile the faculty at ole. miss is saying that we would rather resign and this college closed then too enroll and admit
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a black student. and so you that the sort of absence and you know explicit denial of that opportunity. this is supposedly denial of those resources getting back to what i was mentioning about the founders and higher ed being a place where you can learn how to be a good citizen. it's actively shutting people out of that citizenship is actually actively taking away one of the critical cogs of citizenship as as education is and so when you keep a population un or under educated that is effectively denying them a fundamental right of their of their citizenship and and it you know, i've often said that america has traditionally had an antagonistic relationship with black education that extends to teachers that extends to students. it's a it's a, you know, pre-k through college thing and it's it's a very difficult thing to untangle because it's you know at the k through 12 level. it's tied up in property taxes oftentimes. it's tied up and in districting and and if you try to say, oh
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well, maybe can bring students from outside of the it's like oh well milk can be bradley. you can't do that, you know because the supreme court said the 1970s that you can't bring people across district lines because people were really fighting against having equality equity and education. and so i i don't know it's it's a we're at a moment one of the things that i've talked to clint about before was thinking about the renaming of oncology of college buildings and things like that and how though it is not the transformational change that people, you know may want it is important. it's an important step in terms of getting people to a place of acknowledgment of where the country was where the country what those sort of roots were where the you know where the bones lie and and as we move forward with this sort of understanding of that inequity of that granular understanding of that inequality you can start to uproot some of those some of
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those pieces right if we've known it took it took a hundred years. there's this small piece is the last thing i'll say there's a small piece in the marilla act that we're effectively states where required to give money equitably distribute the moral money equitably and also to match the government federal government's funding from the morale act and in the early 1900s, it was clear. that states were not matching this funding and so congress there was a bill in congress. that was it worked his way through around 1914 that effectively would have forced states to report whether or not they were matching their funds for for the marilla a bill to make states report their funds for the morale act did not pass until 2018 in the farm bill, and so we only really have two years of consistent information where we could have had more than a century. so the sort of knowledge in the
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explicitness of this was something that lawmakers actively said and there were several racist tirades that they gave on the house floor during this during this debate saying that you know, you can't tell us how to spend our money. we know how to spend our money. we will hold back as much as we want to effectively but just just those little things are sort of fasting to me and shows how far just those little things just okay, but this brings up a really good question, which is what is reparative justice look like right you both spent time looking deeply into the history of inequity and how black people work cut out of education cut out of jobs cut out of the history's founding myths. what does it look like to make this right do you think you i mean, there's lot of stuff. i think part of it, you know when we think about reparations people can often think about it singularly in terms of what the resource or financial or material interventions look like and i think that that is
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undoubtedly and necessary and important part of it. you cannot specifically prevent a specific demographic of people from having access to the levers of upward mobility for centuries and then when you attempt to repair them not have not specifically target the groups of people who have been prevented from having access to those things, right? so the example i think about all the time is the new deal new deal, you know, i was always taught in my k through 12 classes talking about miseducation was like the singular the thingy the single greatest catalyst of intergenerational wealth over the course of a century was the thing that was responsible for creating the contemporary middle class it lifted millions of people out of poverty after the depression and is the thing. that was the great the great catalyst for for people to sort of experience a certain level of intergenerational wealth accumulation that otherwise wouldn't have happened. and while that's true, what's also true? is that the new deal specifically prevented black people from having access to the majority of its benefits for so
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in the early years of the new deal black people didn't have access to social security minimum wage protection housing mortgages healthcare after the war the gi bill the list goes on and on and so you give the single greatest catalysts or vintage-generational wealth over the course of a century to one group people and then you very intentionally don't give it to another group of people and then people want to act surprised generations later when they're disparate outcomes along the lines that these resources were allotted, but that's only one example of like a range of social policies throughout the 20th 19th and 18th century that specifically prevented black people and in various contexts other groups of people from having access to the thing, that would have more effectively improve their conditions while at the same time saying that those people are responsible for the terrible conditions in their community. and so in order to repair that not only do you have to have the material intervention specifically targeted toward the groups that had historically been prevented from having access to them. but you also have to like educate people to understand why those material interventions are necessary in the first place,
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right? because if you only move toward the the interventions and the policy interventions, but you don't engage in like an effort to ship public consciousness about the history of this country about the history that has made it so that there are like that these things are necessary in the first place. then people will only then people will begin to tell them that was a story which many people do about how those new sort of policy interventions are unfair or reverse racism or are you know, politically correct or whatever the case may be and the thing i say all the time, is that like history is complicated. and so when i brought up the homestead act, for example a story that a white person might tell themselves about the homestead act is that you know, their irish grandparents came to this country and they were given access to this homestead land and so they moved out west but the land was terrible and the land was full of rocks and the land was, you know, you couldn't grow anything on it. so great-grandfather. whoever the case may be, you know spent his entire life trying to like cultivate this
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land so that things could grow and it was incredibly difficult. and so the story that that person understands about themself is one that is born of overcoming a set of difficult circumstances, which is true, right it is it can be true that that land was full of rocks and it could be true that it was hard to grow anything on that land. it could be true that your grandfather spent his entire life trying to make that land somewhere something that people could grow things on and then ultimately, you know, and that that took many years and decades and so on what can also be true. is that as i said like black people didn't have access to that land in the first place we can all be true is that indigenous people will remove from that land in order to create the room on that land for your grandfather. and so now we're beginning to you have to sort of complicate the story and that that is a keep saying threat but like it that also then means that this person who is told themselves and been told a certain story about themselves and their family and what their family is overcome over the course of generations now has to
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understand their own story in a different way relative to the to other people and how they experienced that same sort of intervention. so i think we just have to make sure that we're able to lean into nuance and to say, you know, it can be true that your great grandfather. struggled and suffered and had a really hard time and that that is part of your lineage that is part of your history and but we also have to understand that history holistically right? but but that's a it's a tricky thing for people but i think we have to do is you know as much as we can like lean into complexity and lean into nuance and sit with that and wrestle with that wrestle with how thomas jefferson was, you know, the intellectual filing father of this country alongside madison any someone who enslaved 600 people including four of his own children, they wrote in one document that all men are created equal and wrote in another document that black people are inferior to whites and both endowments of body and mind right you have to hold all
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of that at once and i think american history is messy and complicated because people and americans and humans are messy and complicated and we have to stop attempting to sort of put things in neat boxes that they don't actually fit into and sort of lean into the amorphous messiness of what this was in order to understand why our society remains a more fish and messy today. i'd like to ask adam about reparative justice, but only if we have time are we? are we is it time for listener questions, or can we do? of course reparative justice adam within education there is room for specificity i suppose. yeah. yeah, and i agree with you know, everything that clinton was saying and i do think that you know specifically in a higher education context right? there is a lot of space for both institutional aid right where you know a place like ole miss that you know, shutting black students out in the faculty was saying we would rather close mean while all corn is having its budget slashed there is like
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an actual one-to-one there of this institution may have some sort of responsibility towards this other institution the institutions that traffic and slavery the institutions that were blocking black students from attending during, you know, during jim crow, right these institutions may have sort of direct responsibility, but even even beyond that right without a state and federal government infrastructure that allowed for this to happen and supported this happening this sort of generational a multi-generational inequality and higher education they wouldn't be in this situation. so i often put a lot of onus on on you know, the federal and state officials to fix some of these issues and it's not just the historical issues right you think about north carolina a&t for example in 2004 made the jump to become a high research producing doctoral institution. they didn't receive any additional funding money for it. they celebrated and all that good stuff, but two
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predominantly white institutions made that same jump within the span of three years after that received 10 million dollars a piece when north carolina a&t went back and said hey legislature we would like that as well. they were stonewalled for a long time. they've received i think 2.5 million of that to this point mean while the other institutions have been able to build on that initial funding that they received right? it's a it's sort of and miniature the story of of higher education more broadly. and so i think that you know, i point to you know institutions that have you know, these legacies of slavery these legacies of segregation as places that may need to to provide some of that repair, but i also think about states like alabama that when alabama state university where my dad's alma mater when they moved to montgomery and the late 1880s early 1890s white montgomeryans did not want them there and so they sued in the state did not give alabama state university any money for an entire year
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effectively trying to starve it out of existence. and so knowing that these things happened knowing that you can dig into the state archives and say there is a massive funding app here knowing that they recently did that in tennessee and said, you know you owe us somewhere between 250 million and 500 million dollars just from like the 1970s and and the state of course, they put 250 million into the budget for the institution, but you think about inflation you think about that longer history of them being shut out you think about the fact that university of tennessee received when it was still, you know, functionally a private institution receive state money to become what it became. there is a direct link to repair for state and state institutions. i think just to build off adam's point just to make the connection between because i think part of what we're also talking about is like material versus symbolic. yeah shifts, you know, you tennessee in the 70s. like this is why i always say it's impossible to fully
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disentangle symbolism from the policy that it's connected to because in in 1978, they put up a bust of nathan bedford forrest in the tennessee state legislature in the tennessee capital nathan. bedford forrest was a leader of general in the confederacy and he was the first grand wizard of the ku klux klan. all right, and so you don't you don't put up up this not 1878 that they're putting up a bust of nathan bedford force they put up in 1978. right and it only recently came down. i think the last year or two. if you put up a bust of the first grand wizard of the ku klux klan that says something about what your policy. orientation is that says something about which a policy priorities are and that for me is inextricably linked to the decision about like how you're funding historically black colleges in tennessee as compared to university, you know, predominantly white universities in tennessee, right? and so i think the the symbolism and the monuments and the street names and all of those things can tell us a lot about what
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stories places are telling about their set themselves and how they understand what they're sort of? priorities are in terms of the society that they are attempting to build or the history that they are are or aren't attempting to acknowledge. okay, i want to open it up to the audience if anyone has any questions, there is a microphone in the center there if you could meet us there that would be great. oh, i see a question in the back question up front.
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i think to the microsoft so, i think it's pretty clear that. america is not really in favor of black people or the other way around. so would it be like? do you think it would be a good thing if they were like, mass? movement of african americans from the us to their respective african countries so it's a good and important question and one that people have been asking for you know from the moment black people arrived on these shores so, you know. in the 19th and in the sort of late 18th and 19th century, there was a movement called the american colonization society and part of what they did was they were like slavery is wrong, but we also don't want to live next to black people. this is majority white people who were part of this right? so they were like slavery's wrong. we don't like slavery. we all don't really like black people. so let's get rid of slavery, but also get rid of black people and so we'll like, you know, say, you know a dual sort of gradual emancipation thing right you when you become 21 you age our slavery and then they'll send you to haiti or somewhere. they propose somewhere in south america. they propose sending folks back to liberia. and what happened in abraham lincoln, you know this sort of
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great emancipator as we know him for a majority of his life for a majority of his political tenure really until the midpoint of the civil war was a part of was in favor of that movement. he was like slavery is wrong, but also black people can never live next to white people and lived here in peace because everybody hates each other and i also you know, and he talks about this in the lincoln lincoln douglas debates in 18 1856. i believe where he's like, black people are not equal. he was trying to reassure folks in illinois that he did not think that while he was against slavery. he didn't think that black people were equal to white people. he didn't think that we should live next to black people or that white people should live next to black people or go to school black people or married black people or any of that. so he invited the leaders of the day in i think it was 1862 or 1863 to the white house the black leaders of that time period and he was like what if we end slavery but also you all go back to africa or go to this colony we set up for you on the
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coast of south america and they were like, no they were like no because the thing is that they're these aren't recent african captives. these are people who had been in the united states for generations, right? they were like africa is not that's not our home. right? i've been in you know, you could be enslaved in america up until 1865 and you could have been enslaved for like seven generations. you could have been in america for for several generations. and so i think you know while there is there, you know, they're movements like marcus garvey's movement and other black nationalist movements that have suggested that there might be some utility either informing like black nationalists would have in our colonies within the larger united states or moving black people in a sort of mass exodus to other countries. i think that something that black people have largely rejected and black people, you know, there's millions of us. and so everybody can have different sensibilities and understandings of what they think the best ideas but largely it's something that historically black people have rejected because they're like, this is our home this place belongs to us too. so it's not a question of us
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being kicked out or even kicking us ourselves out. it's a question of are you going to live up to the prom? you made when you founded this country, are you going to live up to the promise that you wrote down in the declaration in the constitution? and are you going to fulfill what are these sort of aspirational documents and create this country that that is is equal right and create this country that is free and create this country that that has an opportunity for everybody to thrive and i think that's i think all the time about james baldwin's quote where you know, i'm paraphrasing but he's like, i love america more than any country in the world. and that is why i reserve the right to to criticize her in perpetuity until she gets it right and that's the sort of the way that i think about it, right like in and again, this is a situation where different people can have different ideas. some people might want to leave and i'm not one to say like you shouldn't but i i don't think there's any onus on black people to have to go somewhere else because place belongs to us, too. thank you for that thought
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provoking question. noel i was here actually to hear you in these two guys happened to so same here honestly i want to say thank you for expanding on the vocabulary and the opportunity to continue this conversation first off but secondly through both of your research's and especially you mr. smith and goola monticello, do you think you changed maybe just one person's perspective unless you start with your book. you know, it's it's been interesting to me. there's there's been a sort of acknowledgment that yeah, i knew that there was inequality in higher. this is a company that i was i've known that that things were bad. but i didn't know how bad they
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were on purpose. is it you or people here? this is people that were people say to you. yes, of course paraphrase, but how bad they were on purpose right the fact that by in you know, the mid 1900s kentucky's doing this big study to understand how underfunded kentucky what would become kentucky state university is and by the 1940s kentucky has the worst appropriation between black and white institutions at 42 to 1, right and the fact that they had known about that for at least three decades at that point. so i think that understanding a new has has. i think that that has happened and people have have told me that that has happened. so it is it is nice to know that it is at least changing people's understanding of what higher education is and has been and what higher education could be if institutions and the students that attend them are funded equitably and you all i mean you really got to get adam's book
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because i read it and i you know, i think about this stuff all the time, right? i read about the stuff all the time and i was really just like knocked over by how may i know another word but like absurd so much of this was right there like the state says you have to build you have to either integrate black people into this school or like build another school for black people and they're like, okay cool cool. we'll build a school and they're like what's that room 411 in the capital building like get a cut day like got a couple part-time teachers open the room and they're like and then went to court and went to the legislature. we're like, this is the law school and we're and we're serious. i mean like we're created what the absurdity of racism is that you think that putting a black person in the hallway. so that they're not physically in the room with these white students is somehow. saying right that is somehow makes any sort of sense, but the book is full of all of these like really remarkable and like insidious examples of the how
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far people will go to preserve. not only because you're not even really preserving an institution. you're just like making it, you know, i think we can look at it and recognize you're making it look foolish. you're making yourselves look foolish, but that is you know, that's the how white supremacy often manifest itself in my case, you know. people often ask me about the audience of this book and i always tell people is that i wanted to write a book that the 16 year old me version of me would have wanted to read i wrote this book because i remember growing up in new orleans and not having the language or the toolkit or the language or the history to understand why my city looked the way that it did why people talked about it the way that they did and how why in so many ways it was a microcosm for the way that people talked about race and culture across the united states and so part of what i was trying to do and you know, when we did the poll to see like who? how you know what people's education were like, i i was somebody who who grew up in what was once the largest slave market in the south and had no,
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i just had no sense of that part of that history. i mean the cognitive dissonance of like my best memories as a child being like feeding the ducks with my with my mom in city park, which is like our our central park in new orleans and doing it under the literal shadow of a statue of pgt beauregard right like a man who who was open the first shot or did the first shot to open the civil war? i mean who led an army predicated on maintaining expanding the institution to slavery and the country's full of these examples of of cognitive dissonance so so i don't you know, i didn't write the book to change people's minds. i feel very moved when people tell me it did shift something inside of them, but what i wanted was to write the sort of book that would have been really liberating and freeing for a 16 year old version of me and that was what was sort of the orienting direction of the project. i have a question for adam. i've been in higher ed for 17 years and we look at our gaps and we know they're there in our
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predominantly white institutions. what can we learn from our hbcus? it's very good question of the money. yeah, you know, i do think that that is a big piece of it right? there was a building on my campus that you know, my mom had also attended alabama a&m in the 1980s and when i got to campus in 2009, the building was still being renovated and because they didn't have the funds to do so, but you know, there's this interesting so my dad originally went to louisville university of louisville. he ended up leaving because he had some family things he needed to deal with but when he went back to school he went back to alabama state and it was always interesting to me the way that he talked about these two institutions. so when he would talk about louisville, he was like nice to facilities i've ever been to the dorms were great. the dining hall was fantastic, but when you talked about a&m, he was like my professor. when i was climbing a pecan tree at dinner time, they would find me and give me something to eat. they would like, you know, they
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would they would cared about me as a person in the classroom. and i think that that jelani favors has a great book called shelter in the time of storm. i'm where he talks about this sort of second curriculum that students receive at at hbcus and it's it's an addition to sort of this sort of race consciousness that had been a centerpiece of hpcs, but it's also a general care towards students, you know. there was a when i was at when i was at a&m, i had a professor who this is the last story that i will wrap in, but i had a professor i had aced this test. it was a african american history test. absolutely a state. i've the best test i ever took my life and i believe i was the only person in the class who had done well on the test, i had a bunch of friends in my class, but i was the only one who had done well, and i also worked in the department and so after class she was like hey adam you want to come talk to me for a little bit after class. i was like, yeah sure so i go
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into our office and she's i'm thinking i'm getting a pat on the back like, oh great job on the test. she tells me hey, why didn't you help me and your friends out? like why didn't like why didn't you help them study? and i was like, huh, and and to me it was it was both a oh, i guess i could have done that, but it was also her saying it's not just about you like there's a there's a community here that you should be working with and helping and thinking through difficult things with and so that's always kind of stuck with me as a sort of the community that you find at hbcus is something that's very difficult to replicate but i think if you could pull pieces of it, i think that that's one thing that could be learned. hello. thank you for your time today. so i'm currently a high school senior and i'll be attending the university of virginia at the jefferson scholar next year. do you think there are black students that are attending universities are build on oppression and slavery and exclusion are affected by the brunettes in the past the university of virginia university, north carolina, ole miss and what are those effects
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what you say? and maybe we can get the next person because i think we're almost out of time. so if you want to ask and then we'll answer both. hi, so when you miss him lincoln, i always have this always something in my back of my mind that he didn't amount of the police department. he only did that with the states that we're belly not bully states. yeah, so my question so we really look at this list. i'm in the 60s the civil rights movement the lab here the black power movement of the late 60s and early 70s, really. in ones who actually of thought so hard to actually make america better. for all of us and i just wondered would agree that. we don't look at the issue of what the massive police improves it was is to really win the war not really to end slavely.
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that's the way look at it like it was one of your opinion. yeah, thank you for that. you want to answer the first one? yeah, so i think that you know, it does. there is a toll that that weight of history and the the ways that institutions sort of repeat their that the institute the institution is going to be the institution. there's a sort of perpetual a perpetuity too and institution. there's a momentum that it is developed over over a stretch of time. i think about auburn university that on the same day that bo jackson won. the heisman is the best, you know college football player in the country. a federal judge said that that was the most segregated institution in the state of alabama literally on the same day by 2002 auburn university enrolled about 5% black students and today they enroll fewer black students than they did in 2002 and so you think about that sort of trajectory and that that momentum that institutions have
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that is a very daunting thing, but i i do think when i was you know, i was at texas tech briefly and when i was there people wanted to start a moving for africana studies, you know, they wanted to be an r1 institution and they didn't have an african artist program didn't make sense, but they also only had like 4% black students on campus. and so, you know, i think that there is a there is a need to sort of the pushback there's like a there's an additional weight, but i think that that is within any institution you think about journalism you think about you know, this is it's an overwhelmingly. it's an institution that is not historically been. accepting of black people of brown people, you know, and so anytime you're working in a system that has not designed for you it is going to be difficult, but that is not to say that students have not been successful and that students have not worked to make those institutions better in the same way that we were fighting for an
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african studies program at texas tech students are because you know perpetually fighting to make those institutions better as client was saying, you know, we want america to be the best that can be you should be fighting for those those ideals that you know, we're hoping to live up to. yeah, and it's something i didn't go to predominantly hbc you even though like every person in my family feels like went to more a spellman or howard, but i think one of the most important things i say just briefly on that front is just like finding community within the larger community right like for me at davidson. i like my experience the davidson, but it was like you know other black people who helped me down and like were the people who i could go back to in moments where everything else felt really overwhelming. so, i think it probably a big part of it is like finding your community within your community who you can be your fullest self with and with regard to lincoln, you know, it's a huge thing right? because people some of the ways that we miss on miseducate people around the image patient
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proclamation is by making people think that it was the thing that like the amazing proclamation freed all the slaves and it didn't the emancipation proclamation was the strategic military proclamation which we had a couple different goals part of it was it is true that lincoln was becoming more abolitionist jason in his sensibilities, right? he rec i said two years into the war that this was clearly you were clearly not going to if the union won the war there is no way that they could allow slavery to persist in part because so many formerly enslaved people were escaping to the north and becoming part of the war effort and was becoming so central in northern sentiment to the rationale around why the war was fought even though in the south it was always the primary reason upon which the war was based. but also lincoln was you know, and his cabinet were very strategic. they recognized that great britain and france had a lot of economic interest in the sort of cotton industry of the south and
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that they were britain and financial accountant on the verge of supporting the confederacy in part because their economic interests were so entangled in it, but lincoln recognized that he made the war specifically and declaratively about slavery that britain and france which had in the decades prior recently immense or abolish slavery in their countries and said that we are we are like abolitionists nations that they would not then support an institution or like a territory that was fighting a war predicated on maintaining and expanding the institution of slavery. so part of it was to keep britain and france out of the war which would have significantly changed the trajectory of the war part of it was a recognition at the way that the country was moving the way the politics were moving the way the war was moving. it's just wasn't feasible to allow slavery to continue to exist. even if when you if and when the south were was let back in and also as you said it didn't apply to states in the north. it was a military document. so it only applied to the
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confederate states. it didn't apply to the border states. so there were four states where people were members were these states were members of the union but still owned enslaved people, maryland, kentucky, delaware, and there's one more but in those states it was you know, lincoln was it was a very delicate balance because he was like if these states fall into if i take away slavery in these states then they will or if i abolish slavery in these states or attempt to and these states will fall into the confederacy and and that those four states being part of the confederacy would have all so significantly shifted the trajectory of the war. so lincoln was a politician right? like he's the he is the president that i perhaps admire the most because i think he had this remarkable capacity to shift and evolve and like i'm i admire someone who thought about the in one way in 1850 and thought about in a very different way in 1865 and i think that that's something to be commended and in some ways. i mean in many ways we'll never know how far lincoln would have
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evolved because he was assassinated after the end of you know a week after the civil war came to an effective end, but but i think that's another example of making sure that we understand things like emancipation in more nuance complicated terms rather than saying like in the emancipation proclamation freed the slaves when it actually is a more the rationale behind it. and the reason it came into existence was a bit more complicated than that. all right folks. we are at time. i want to thank all of you for coming out. i want to thank our panelists adam and clint for this wonderful discussion. book tv's coverage of the annapolis book festival continues now welcome folks. thank you for coming. um, my name is fish stark. i'm your moderator for this session and excited to have you all here. just if before we get started if you could remember to pleas


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