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tv   Author Discussion on History Racial Inequality  CSPAN  June 3, 2022 11:29am-12:34pm EDT

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and if i mine are not blessed i want them blessedright quick. if i can go to the bathroom i will go . i'll stay behind these lackeys. >> presidential recordings, find it on the c-span now mobile or wherever you get your broadcast. >> american history te documents america stories and book tv rings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span2 comes from these television companies and more including charter communications. >> broadband is a force for empowerment. that's why charter has invested billions building infrastructure, upgrading technology, empowering opportunity in communities big and small . charter is connecting us.
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>> charters medications along with these television companies supports c-span2 as a public service. >> good afternoon. i'm delighted to be here at the annapolis book festival. i'm more delighted we are seeing each other in person as opposed to on our human screens . >> if i can ask everyone to your cell phone volume is turned on if you're turning it off. we're going to talk about 35 minutes and open it up to audience questions. i know you are here to see these two gentlemen, not to see me so come with your questions andsi'll have a few minutes for syou . the title of this panel is how systemic racism has a changed our history, policy and education and we're lucky today to be joined by two of the best writers in this country on history and race currently working.
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adam harris is the author of the state must provide white america's colleges have always been unequal. erthis book is industry a higher education and it's a very clear installation of how much harder black americans have had to work. it brings to life some household names including marshall and james meredith and also some things that may be a little more familiar. for many years and i was next to carter g woodsonelementary school. i did not know who he was, i found it in your book . we are joined by the author of the best-selling book how the word is passed: a reckoning of the history of slavery across america . those of you who have readhis book know that it is a miracle of talent . it takes us places where black and white americans interacted . one of his unique gifts is he can go to a place, observe,
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talk to anyone, ndhere things that are funny and also appalling and then reserve judgment and we're going to talk about how he manages to do that. >>. >> you had a book about in 2021 about a year after the murder of george floyd when this country was talking a great deal about having a reckoning over race. your we are in 2022 and i think a lot of people want to know if we really have to reckoning over race and racial justice. i wantto start with you , it is a reckoning in anysense . >> thanks everyone for being here. one of the centerpieces of my book actually focuses on lahistorically black colleges and universities . the role they play in educating the population that the majority of america did not want to see educated for the lion's share of the country's history so the
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hrinstitutions are kind of going through this cerampart of attention through that reckoning you saw an increase in philanthropic donations to universities . you saw this rush of money coming from the federal government but you are also still seeing this sort of piecemeal motions towards making real effective change for these institutions and i think the reckoning hasn't yet manifested in terms of transformation only changing the situation for the lion's share of people and i think that's the point is if there's a true reckoning that is! >> so mckenzie gives $1 million to historically black colleges and it doesn't necessarily change. >> several institutions
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received donations that were the largest ever they received in history . sometimes was 5 million, sometimes it was 10 million and a place like the university of mississippi and make $500 million in five years of private donations so to say my alma mater received a $2.2 million donation last year is the largest ever single donation in the hundred 50 year history of that institution so i think thinking about the scope of this past two years and the grander scope of american bhistory it really is only sort of split and whether if it continues then i think that's when you start to see that transformational change. >> and we see a realreckoning with anything in this country ? >> i think what's happened is over the last 10 years beginning with the sort of artificial start of the black lives matter movement as we think about being trade on mark in step . over the last 10 years there's been a shift scin public confidence before millions of people, for many
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people who now understand racism not just as an interpersonal phenomenon but a systemic one, a historical one. i always joke i 2012 if you had asked somebody what redlining was they would have said is that rihanna's lipstick? what is that what's true is now there are people who have a different lexicon, a different language. a different toolkit with which to understand the reason one community looks one way and another community looks at other way is because of what has been done to those communities generation after generation so there has been a shift but we've experienced and i think we see this with heretical race. is an intense backlash as well because what happened is part of what we've experienced is that because now millions of people are telling a different story about this country, a more nuanced, morehonest , one
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that includes multiple perspectives and takes a set of historical phenomenon and it complicates our understanding of it so we don't just understand that best destiny as this inherent good that brought the us on one coast to another, we understand it as thing that killed indigenous people. we don't understand the homestead act as something that's great because were getting immigrants coming to this country access to land at west, where recognizing that people have access to that same land and recognizing the way to clearing the land you also have to kill these indigenous people so that's an example of what it means to these stories. but if you once you begin to complicate the stories there are many millions of other people who sense of self gets tied to the story of america. their sense of identity is tied to the story of america similarly being a shining hi light on the hill the story of being a similar place where anybody can make it if they were hard enough and
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ones that version of the american story is revealed to be untrue or half true or only part of the story i think a lot of people begin to experience ithat not only as a threat to the america they believed in but as a threat to they understand themselves to be is not only become this inconvenient need to reassess history it becomes an accidental crisis because you understand yourself to be his time to a story of america that rmillions are telling you now isn't necessarily true and a lot of what we see as a result of that what has happened at every moment of black progress is that now there are state sanctioned efforts across the state legislatures to prevent teachers from teaching the very history that explains why the country looks the way it does today so part of what we're seeing is people not only hearing a loss of material like a material loss but also a loss of their identity, a threat to their self so i do think there's been a shift. we can recognize there are limitations but we can
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recognize that it's sort of like pre-step forward, two steps back on the situation of the moment but i think we can recognize that there has been a sort of shifting consciousness even if that shift in consciousness is not necessarily always translated into the necessary material or legislative intervention would have a real material impact on black youth. >> one thing is clear from both of your books is that this country cannot escape its history. america will always have to deal with the things we did 300 years ago, 400 years ago ryand i was struck you chose to write a history of higher education because every reporter knows education is the hardest be because you have a very simple story really start with a simple story and realize you need to go backgenerations to get the context or what your reporting wages education . >> i think that it really
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hinged upon this idea i was trying to look at any quality more broadly. and in the same way education was really straightforward. this is something that's seeminglysimple . but then you start the day in our always additional realities .. so yes. there is within this idea, this broader lens my father was i want to examine higher education with this idea of inequality through this lens of inequality. coming from the founding and from that first address that george washington gave before congress in 1790 he said there's nothing that better deserves your patronage and speaking to the members of congress, because that is where results this citizenry and understanding of the founding these are people thinking eoabout this is a place where we citizens.
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this is a place where people earn their character and yet they were thinking of shutting out an entire class of people. it was interesting to me and working through as i reported on inhigher education at the chronicle , you would come across these walls for these bills pass to expand higher education. you think about the g.i. bill and the morel and how that expanded access to higher education and there were all of these points. the morel 17 million acres of land including 10 million acres of land that was expropriated from 250 indigenous tribes to basically give to states that they can build these illustrious institutions they have now. iowa state university, auburn university. and for 30 years these institutions did not, 30 years or longer most of these institutions did notenroll black students .
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the first school to accept that morel land-grant didn't enroll its first black student until the federal government said you have to accept them.your white institution orcreate a review in 1890 and that ended up being george washington carver . if you think about the amount of time they were able to build credit and currency with a system of these institutions and yet you still have eflagships that are enrolling 5 to 6 percent black students. in this place where you have four percent of the students ic are black. for a place like north carolina where unc chapel hill rose present black students in north carolina state enrolls five percent. just looking across the board there were all these f individuals aand i think one of the things that best helps people understand that sort of injustice is granularity of it. the fact that when a louise
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fisher is suing to get into the university of oklahoma boulevard and the supreme court said ayou have to enroll her, instead the state of oklahoma ourushes her into law school in five days and says here'syour law school . this is where you can go. understanding the granularity of all that i think is i felt was important and is why i wanted to examine this broaderstructure . >> it was in the room it was in the capital building. one of the floors they turned into a makeshift classroom and hired three faculty members ypart-time for what would be full-time work and she ultimately u didn't attend. she said i'm not going there. but you sort of saw the way that sthis state was trying to hold on to this semblance of
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separate but equal. george mclaurin when he was accepted into the university and they put him in the hallway and he was looking into the class when the supreme court said they couldn't do that anymore. they put a little bar in the classroom to segregate black students so all this granular injustice was important and that helps to make this broader story. >> notably the years this was happening. >> this was 1947 through, around 1945 through 1951, 52 so pre-brown versus board and they lay the foundation t. >> there would be people in this room alive during that period of american history. it really is that close and that is the thing your book does not allow us to forget is how close it is yours is a bit more like jerry jack kerouac's on the road and it has a point to it . i'm sorry, i like when i was a teenager. you went to eight separate places and you observed, talk
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to came away with your wothoughts. i wondered intensely how did you decide on the places. there aretens of thousands that you could have gone. how did you choose these eight ? >> it helps to give context of the origin of the book. it was in 2017 i was watching several confederate statues come down in my hometown . jefferson davis, robert e lee and i was thinking about when i grew up in a majority black city in which there were more lodges to enslavers that t enslaved people and thinking what does it mean to get to school i had avto go down robert ely boulevard. to have to go down justin davis parkway. my parents had a street named after someone who own hundred 50 enslaved people so we know symbols and names are just ti symbols. there reflective of the stories people tell and they shape the narrative and those shape public policy and the
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material conditions of people's lives and is not to say taking down a statue of robert e lee or making it a federal holiday will somehow erase e the racial wealth gap but they are things that help us understand the ecosystem of ideas and stories and narrative that shape american history and help us understand the way certain communities have been disproportionately harmed or that history so i began in new orleans and i was thinking about my hometown and having grown up in a place that was once the busiest slave market in the country and realizing i didn't understand the history of the city in teany way that was commensurate with the impact that it had had on my city or my state or my country so i began thinking about what my old professor walterjohnson at harvard said . he said in his book sold my soul the whole city is a memorial to slavery. it's in the roads they paved and thebuildings they constructed . so i was thinking about what are the places or the people in new orleans who are
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talking about this for the places that are talking about this but should be and what are the places doing something in between and that's why i got curious about other places through the country so i started looking around and visiting dozens of different places and ended up writing about eight of them and what i love about a book like this is a jack cadillac try travelogue if you will is that you can write, adam and i have written nonfiction book proposals and in your proposal i'm going to go to this place and talk about this person and you start writing the book and you're like none of this is going to happen . you think you're going to write about it but sometimes the story takes you in a different direction. i thought i was going to write this big chapter on civil war battles so i wentto petersburg . and it was an interesting place. it was okay but i was having a conversation with a park ranger telling him about my book project and he said you
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should go to this confederate cemetery down the road and i said i'm not going to go to this confederate cemetery. that is not something i'm going to ikdo but there's a difference between a regular black guy walking around the streets and the journalists and the journalists it's like two people on your shoulder and one is like don't go to this confederate cemetery and the other is like you have to go so i went and i ended up spending time talking to people there. there was this moment i talk about in the book where the woman who runs the site i'm discussing it with her and having this conversation about robert e lee and out of the corner of my eye i see this thing where she's on one side of the counter and over there i'm like there's a flyer for something. i look over and it's a flyer for the sons of confederate veterans memorialday elevation and she sees me look at it . and she flipped it over and i was like that was dramatic. so then she's like i don't know what that is. i don't even know who they are. i'm a man, you run the site, what are you talking about. that was another moment where
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i have to a, i've got to go see this ndsite and then i ended up the chapter ended up being about me spending the day with members of the tons of confederate veterans up there memorial day event and i did not like right in my book proposal i was going to do that. i had no interest in doing that sometimes a story takes you in the direction it wants to go and shows you how wants to be written and that kept happening at various stages. >> one of the most remarkable things and i wanted to ask about this, did you have these interactions? there are places you show up anyway at places you are not wanted and you don't judge the people that hide the flyer or i adore thomas jefferson, i don't care what he did with callie hennings. you maintain a distance and leave the scene and giveus context for what was going on . there are a lot of journalists would want to
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dive in there and judge. what do you think it is about you that makes you want to observe and not reserve judgment? >> to your point i think there's a version of this book in which i spend the day with the sons of the confederate veterans and do like a daily show kind of thing. kind of like clearly makethem look ridiculous . and for me, that's not a natural part of my ethos. and i really wanted to understand why they believed some of the things they believed. so many things that run so profoundly counter to the evidence at hand. i think about the conversation i had with a guy named jeff who was a member of the sons of confederate veterans. ponytail, pencil thin mustache with confederate he paraphernalia all over raand he
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was telling me about thwhen how when he was a boy his grandfather used to take dthem to a cemetery and bring him to this beautiful white gazebo and he would sing the old dixie anthem and watch the deer come out of the forest at night as the sunset beyond the trees and watch the fireflies dance esfrom one tombstone to another and his grandfather would tell him these stories about the men didn't fight a war to oppress people, they fought a war to protect themselves against the northern invasionand to and ect their culture protect their families and state sovereignty . then he talked about how now he brings his daughters to that same cemetery and tells them the same story is grandfather told him and sings the same song is grandfather r sang to him and for me that was important and crystallizing moment because it demonstrated how for so many people history is not about primary source documents or evidence, it's a story there told and it is a story they tell. it's an heirloom passed down across generations.
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where loyalty takes precedence over truth because the story is not only a representative of pieces of history but to my point i made earlier representatives of pieces of the people you love so if i were to go to jeff and said i know you said that the board didn't have anything to do with slavery or secession had nothing to do with slavery but if you look at the declaration of confederate secession clearly in 1861 says our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery the greatest material interest in the world so not vague about why they're seceding. they're quite clear about it. always. but again, that represents like an accidental threat to how jeff understands himself because if he accepts that information lyyou would have to accept his grandfather's lying to him and if he accepts his grandfather's line it would threaten to crumble and disintegrate the foundation upon which the relationship was built upon which so many of the relationships in his community and in his family are built so you only get that sort of understanding i think from genuinely
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approaching somebody and trying to understand why they believe what they believe because otherwise you can go in and make people caricatures of themselves and the thing that the more i'm unsettling piece of some confederate veterans event for me is if it felt like a family reunion. it was thisintergenerational familial piece of it where it was clear how this story was being passed down across generations . it was clear what was the glue connecting people that allow that story to persist in this way and if i went in with a antagonistic position or attempting to assume somebody said something that was empirically incorrect well, actually. in that book i thought it was a more effective thing to just talk to people, try to get a real sense of what they believed and let history
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speak for itself. if you're like slavery had nothing to do with the civil war the next three pages will be evidence about how all of them said this is about slavery and i thought for this particular project that was more effective tool. >> i want to bring you in here adam because the idea that the civil war was not ma about slavery. i wanted to do a quick poll, how many people learnedthat in school ? didn't and i was born in 1981 so i learned the civil war was about states rights. we didn't mention slavery verymuch . we talked about the north wanted one thing and the en south wanted another thing slavery was unfortunate but we didn't go into seventh, eighth, ninth grade. and i wonder if you could talk a bit about how education in this country has served to at times explicitly miss educate people and when you leave black voices, black students out of conversations by not educating people, by
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refusing to let them go to school, we lose our history because we're only telling one version of thestory and that is the version that is palatable to people in the classroom . >> it's a really good question and there has been historically this idea of sanitizing what american history is. a simplification of american history . the revolutionary war and some stuff happens but then you have the civil war and states rights. and then martin luther king. and voting rights bill and then civil rights act and barack obama. it's like a linear path of progress. and maintaining to clint! about how you build this identity around this story, that is a story that allows for a very straight line view of american history. it is a sort of glorification
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of our founding. and need to make the place more exceptional than it might be. that this we always have this idea, preven if there's a struggle there's always a knife towards progress and it ignores the fact that reconstruction happened but you also have this civil rights bill but also have this southern strategy. and that progress is always met with that intense pushback. i think about in 1871 when the university of mississippi or when alcorn state university was created l, that is directly black college in mississippi they were given a guarantee of appropriations $50,000 a year for at least a decade. but 1875 comes. the so-called redeemers sweep back into office, reduce that appropriation to $15,000 a year. a year later they reduce it to 5000 $500 a year and
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meanwhile the faculty of boldness is saying we would rather resign than to enroll and admit a black student. so the sort of absence of an explicit denial of that the denial of those resources cutting back to as i mentioned about the founders that higher ed being a place where you can learn how to be a good citizen is actively shutting people out of that system . it's taking away one of the critical columns of citizenship as education. so when you keep a population undereducated, that is nt effectively denying them the fundamental rights of their citizenship . and i often said america has traditionally had an antagonistic relationshipwith black education that extends to teachers and students, pre-k through college . it's a difficult thing to untangle the cause its k-12
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plevel, it's tied up in property taxes. it's tied up indistricting and if you try to say maybe we can bring students from outside, you can't do that . because of the supreme court said in 1970 you can't bring them across the line because people were fighting against having quality in education. i don't know. where at the moment rewhere one of the things i talked to clinton about before was thinking about the renaming of college buildings and things like that and how though it is not the transformational change that people may want it is an important step in terms of getting people to a place of acknowledgment of where the country was, what those sort of groups were. where the bones lie. and as we move forward with this sort of understanding of
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inequity or that greater understanding of the quality we can start to uproot some of those pieces . if we'veknown . it took 100 years. there's a small l piece in the morel act that where effectively states were required to give money equitably. to distribute the money equitably and also to match the governance funding from the munro act and the early 1900s it was clear states were not matching this funding. so congress there was a s.bill in congress that was legislated around 1914 that effectively would have forced states to report whether or not they were matching their funds for the munro act. build to make states report their funds for the munro act did not pass until 2018 in the farm bill so we only really have two years of
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consistent information where we could have had more than a century.this sort of haknowledge and the explicitness of this is something that lawmakers actively said and there are several racist tirades that they gave on the house floor during the debate saying you can't tell us how to spend our money. we know how to spend our money and we will hold that as much as we want to. but just a little things. those little things. but this brings up a good question which is what is reparative justice look like. you all spent time looking deeply into history and inequity and how effectively we were cut out of jobs and the history of the founding myth. what does itlook like to make this right you think ? >> a lot of stuff. i think part of it when we think about reparations we often think about singularly in terms of what the
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resources were financial or material intervention. and i think that is undoubtedly a necessary and important part. you cannot specifically prevent a specific demographic of people from having access to the levers of upward mobilityfor centuries . and then when you attempt to repair them not have not specifically target the same people who been prevented from having accessto those things . the example all the time is the new deal. the new sdeal i was always taught in my k-12 class was the single greatest catalyst of intergenerational wealth in the century. it was the thing for lifted ndmillions of people out of poverty after the depression and it's the thing that was the great catalyst for people to sort of experience a certain level of intergenerational wealth that otherwise wouldn't have ha happened and while that's true it's also true the new
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deal prevented black people from having access to the majority of the benefits. >> .. along the lines of these resources were allotted. that's only one example of like a range of social policies throughout the 20th, 19th and 18th centuries that specific preventive black people in various context of the people from having access to the thing that would more effectively improve their conditions while a at the same time saying those peoplean are responsible for the terrible conditions in their community. and so in order to repair then not only do you have to have the material at attention specifically targeted towards the groups that have historically been prevented from having access but you have to
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educate people to understand why those materials and inventions are necessary in firstus place. if you only move toward the intervention, , the policy interventions but you don't engage in like the effort to shift public consciousness about the history of this country about the history that is made it so that there are like things are necessary in first place then people will only begin to tell themselves story which many people do about how those new policy interventions are unfair or reverse racism or are politically correct whatever the case may be. the thing to say all the time his history is complicated. when i brought up the homestead act, for example, a story that a white person might tell themselves about the homestead act is their irish grandparent came to this country and they were given access to this homestead land so the food at west but the land was terrible and the land was full of rocks and the land was come you could grow anything on it. so their great, great
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grandfather spent his entire life trying to cultivate this land so they could make things go. it was incredibly difficult so the story that person understands about themselves is one that is born of overcoming instead of cash a set of difficult circumstances we just too. they can be true that landd was full of rocks and is hard to grow anything on the land, it could be to your great, great grandfather spent his entire life trying to make that land something that people could go things on and then ultimately, and that took many years and decades and so on. what can also be true is as i said like people to net access to that land in first place. it can also be true indigenous people, now we are beginning this is to confiscate the story and that is i keep saying threat but like that also been means this person who has told themselves and been told a certain story about themselves and the family and what the family has overcome over the
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course of generations now has to understand their own story in a different way relative to other people and how they experienced that same sort of intervention. i think we just have to make sure we are able to lean into nuance and to say it can be true that your great-grandfather struggled and suffered and had a really hard time and that is part of your lineage, part of your history. but we also have to understand that history holistically, right? but it's a tricky thing for people but it think we have to do, you know, smudges we can't like lean into complexity, lean into nuance, sit with that and wrestle with that, wrestle with that thomas jefferson was the intellectual founding father of this country alongside madison and he is someonene who enslaved 600 people including four of his own children. he wrote all men are created equal and he wrote in another
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that blacks are inferior. you have told all that. american history is messy, applicant because people and americans in humans are messy and complicated, and where to stop attempting to put things in neat boxes that they don't actually fit into and sort of leaningmo to the messiness of wt this was in order to understand where society remains more messy today. spread like to ask a adam about reparative justice but only if we have time. of course reparatie 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
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its budget slashed there is like 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
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good stuff, but two 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
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give alabama state university any money for an entire year 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
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it's impossible to fully 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.
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and what happened in abraham lincoln, you know this sort of 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
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colony we set up for you on the 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
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our home this place belongs to us too. so it's not a question of us 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,
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too. thank you for that thought 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
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really got to get adam's book 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
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insidious examples of the how 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
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market in the south and had no, 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
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and we know they're there in our 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.
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they would like, you know, they 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.
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i was like, yeah sure so i go 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
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university, north carolina, ole miss and what are those effects 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
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not really to end slavely. 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
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momentum that institutions have 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
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way that we were fighting for an 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
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people around the image patient 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
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cotton industry of the south and 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.
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it was a military document. so it only applied to the 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.
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i mean in many ways we'll never know how far lincoln would have 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 >> folks, we are at time. i want to think all of you for coming out. to think our panelists. [applause] >> booktv every sunday on c-span2 features leading authors discussing the latest nonfiction books. at noon eastern on "in depth" join a live conversation with a journalist sam quinones. you will discuss immigration
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