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tv   African- American History and Preservation  CSPAN  April 11, 2017 10:35pm-12:30am EDT

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>> wednesday, a discussion about the military's enforcement of rule also and laws as they apply to free speech and sexual harassment cases involving service members. we'll be live from the event, hosted by the george washington university and the american bar association starting at noon eastern here on c-span3. >> the los angeles times has been putting on the festival of books for more than 20 years, and it has become an institution that's part of the community. and if -- and it is a way that we can celebrate with the readers of the paper and with the city as a whole the very notion of reading. and today when the idea of there being something called fake news is out there, i think that books help us celebrate the way that
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words and facts are grounded in story telling and in history. >> watch our live coverage of the los angeles times festival of books all weekend april 22 and 23rd on book tv on c-span2. >> next, a panel on african-american history and preservation. moderated by lonnie bunch, founding director of smith tone ya' national museum of african-american history and culture. this is an hour and 45 minutes. [ applause ] >> all right. this is going to make me cry so come on, sit down. geez, i was just going to say thank you, hard core folks. you know, i'm really pleased to welcome you to this session, but before i do that let me just say how unbelievably honored we at the smithsonian are that so many of you are here and that all of
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you that participate in this conference, the papers have been brilliant. we have learned so much, and i just want to let you know how much it means to all of the smithsonian that you're here. so thank all of you so much. i appreciate that. so my job today is to welcome you to the session with -- that was voted the session with the most unwieldy name. history, preservation, public reckoning in museums, which is translated to mean this panel will grapple with issues and challenges that flow from working at the intersection of history and memory, or put in another way this panel will look at what happens when the past meets the present. as a discipline, public history is one of those amazing fields that really wasn't around or wasn't discussed back in 1983. it really hadn't been visible, nor had it been valued. yet now almost everybody here would not deny the need for historians to help to shape the
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multiple platforms such as museums and historic sites and films and television, where million also of people learn or unlearn their history. by doing public history, it is really something that is in my mind wondrous. i'm, unfortunately, old enough to remember being told by my faculty adviser that if i went to work in museums i was ruining a promising career. i guess they were right. but doing public history is not for the faint of heart. the need to navigate the minefields of confronting public perceptions or beliefs, the minefield that comes from the glare of media scrutiny, the minefield that comes from the impact of finding the money to do the work you want to do or even the fact that public history by definition is collaborative, and that collaboration in some cases can
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work to make the rough edges of history smooth. unless one is vigilant, politically aware, nimble and candidly thick skinned, it seems to me that what is so important is while this panel will talk a lot about public accessibility of history and the like, the one thing i want to put out there not to forget is what is so key about museums and why historians need to be engaged, is that everything a museum does is fleeting. conferences, books, exhibits, except the collection. so what is really crucial is that it is the museum that really preserves our cultural patrimony and to really make sure that historians are helping to shape what museums collect, what museums document is crucially important. i guess i would like to illustrate the joys and challenges of public history with two moments from the creation of the national museum
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of african-american history and culture. as you can imagine, i get a lot of letters, a lot of e-mails. suddenly i discovered a lot of cousins i didn't know i had. but i received an e-mail several years ago, a letter several years ago that began, "dear left wing historian." clearly it wasn't a fan letter. but the letter began to say, what happened to the smithsonian i loved? it used to be a place that celebrated america, that looked at the achievements in our history in a very positive way, and now your museum will raise issues that are better not remembered. and then the author wrote a line that i always keep. he said, after all, don't you know that america's greatest strength is its ability to forget? so a lot of us are out of a job. but he went on in the letter to talk about how it was horrible to build the national museum of
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african-american history and culture and that historians like me ought to be fired from the smithsonian, although i must admit he did sign it, best wishes for your continued success. but in many ways the letter raises so many issues about whose memories, whose history does one privilege, and how can public history, how can museums, historic sites really change the sort of long-held historical frameworks and historical imaginations, historical memories held by our publics? i was struck though even more by something that happened back in february of 2012. we had just had president obama speak for the ground breaking, and i was walking to the museum the next day. i was going to say an elderly african-american woman, but she was probably my age. so somebody that was mature but
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youthful actually came up to me and she stopped me and she hugged me and she said, thank you. but before she let go she said, but whatever you do don't talk about slavery. in some ways during the first two years of trying to create this museum we spent a lot of time doing surveys and focus groups and interviewing people and looking at the literature that assessed what the public knew or didn't know about african-american history. we gathered historians together to help us think this out. we gathered people who had no connection at all to museums, help us understand what they wanted and what they didn't want. what was interesting is what was revealed that the number one issue that the public wanted us to engage with or that they wanted to understand what slavery. the number one subject they didn't want the museum to talk about was also slavery. clearly it seems to me this woman hugging me and reminding me she didn't want to talk about slavery really tells us one of the great challenges.
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one of the great challenges of public history is to give the public not just what it wants but what it needs. and in many ways i think our challenge is to really figure out just what are the limits of what public history is. how can we create a body of literature, critical literature that really helps future historians understand how to wrestle with what we now call public history? i think there's no doubt that there have been important moments, important transformations in some historic sites, some plantation sites you will hear about, and we all know an amazing array of exhibition that have problemetized and broadened our notion of african-american history, and there are many challenges that we have faced. let me layout quickly a few. it seems to me, how do you help
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the public find a useful and usable path that instructs, that inspires, that contextualized, that prods, that gives the public historical or cultural tools that help them live their lives, to help them live their lives through a better understanding of the past? how can we do that? what are the challenges? can museums, can historic sites help the public do something that i think is so important, and that is help the public embrace the ambiguity of the past. museums often provide simple answers to complex questions. it seems to me the question is can museums, can these sites, there they be places outside of the academy, outside of classrooms that provide nuance, complexity and learning that comes from embrace ingham b big -- ambiguity? can in many ways public historians create the kind of spaces to allow visitors to explore and to give voices to
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the silences that else a barkle brown spoke of yesterday to do that? can these spaces provide opportunities for reconciliation, healing or is it just reckoning with the past? ultimately, the question that faces us is how do you do the work in face of media scrutiny, in face of the real challenges of finding the funds to do the work you need to do? how do you do the work to ensure that despite all you have the integrity, you have the scholarship, you have the research, but also you have a way to make it accessible for the broadest possible public? in some ways we are very fortunate to have an amazing panel today to help us wrestle with all of these issues. i think in some ways these are all people that helped transformed the profession. while i'm not going the read all of their biographies, the fact
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that george mcdaniel, dorothy spool radford and david blight have all successfully wrestled with the challenges and opportunities of public history. i think that like so many i have learned so much from them, and the work of the historians who labor in the fertile fields of public history have been made better by all of their efforts. let me get out of the way and ask george mcdaniel to come up and speak. [ applause ] >> go, george. >> thank you, leah, i appreciate that. thank you for being here. thank you, lonnie, and all of the wonderful staff for putting it together, and also the volunteers at the front desk. as director of an historical site i realize the important work of volunteers so i want to thank them.
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also, during this symposium one of the words has come up again and again has been struggle. for those of us in the public history field, we know that's an ongoing challenge. so when you're trying to answer questions that you may have, please know that we certainly don't have the definitive answers. this is an ongoing process, it is an ongoing struggle. well, as you can tell by my accent, i'm not from brooklyn. i'm very much -- jersey, that's right, jersey. i'm very much of a southerner. so beginning this i thought sort of in the tradition of southerners, black and white, he begin with a story, sort of like an african lie brags. i was in africa in the peace corps, but it is not just a humorous story. it is a story that's personal, but i think it illustrates where we are. i'm going to drop back in time. i taught public school in providence, rhode island, i was trying to teach history in 1972.
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the history for american history was available through a book, and the students either had -- this was junior history textbook and american history is that thick, or for those who were slower readers, a little american history textbook about like that. but history, the book was a gateway to history. so hei began using artifacts, music and art and other things to make it accessible. i went for my ph.d. history at duke, got a fellowship here at the smithsonian to work with slave quarter it and other things to use material culture as a way of teaching with african-american history. in 1968 a tenant house was removed from maryland and placed on exhibit in the hall of every day life, along with other houses, and one of my challenges or opportunities in 1978 was they hired me to come back and research it for the reinterpretation of it because they realized the interpretation was sterile. so i went back and managed to locate people who had lived in
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that house, the curator didn't know where it came from. i found it came from prince georges county, located residents in that house, brought them in and did oral histories with them as they documented how it was furnished in their time. took it back to 1890 or so and found out the residents were not aimless sharecroppers but instead were rooted in family and community. connected it to the work of herbert gutman. head of two parent household sur rounded by extended family networks. the former residents showed or told us that the smithsonian put up the house backwards. they had taken the front of the house, put that on exhibit against the wall and the front of the house, which has a symmetrical side, door centrally located, flanked by windows, put it as the front of the house. that was the back of the house. they also s': that the rooms were backwards.
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we also featured the former residents in the festival of american folk life, did oral history workshops with them as they described life as they knew it, not just we are backing the director of the cultural history department of smithsonian and asked them to reinterpret the house. >> lets bring informal residence and video tape and selecting what kind of chairs and how do we refurbushished the house. the director of the cultural of history looked at me and said, george, we sunken up money in that route. fortunately, that house was
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exhibited. that became -- i went to montgomery county, maryland and documented in the communities that i played on. one of the houses that documented was the jones/sims house, 1874 and the community. that's the house that's going to be in the new museum and transitioning. [ applause ] >> so what i hope that we do by this work is we keep on pushing. it is a struggle. so i hope that we can find ways
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to bring history back to the people. the title of this session of his industry preservation. that's a top topic. in the good news is that this museum's construction demonstrates the pod reckons of the new history and it shows the change. when i was packing in regards to an african-american tenant house. now, what do we have that? that museum rising up. that was 1978, almost 30 years ago. that remarkable step, i think, great opportunity for us to connect with the public in to fine ways to gaze the public and i answered those questions that delani talked about. how do we get people engaged? >> i think we do that by finding
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ways to not disremember the past and tell the story and not just owe m omit bad things but by remembering them and combining those thi things with the goods create experiences that enhances our lives. looking back here of our writing, william faulkner certainly tried. that's a simple phrase. he's not just referring to your heart but our hearts. we lift up our hearts by telling the truth about our past. if we just look at one side of history, only at the good or the bad or only at the elite or the press, we do not lift our hearts. in this life together, people passed were no different.
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that story maybe told by texts or books or artifacts or videos or aoutçó autographs or places landscape. if that story is well told, the public will respond and we'll see that history preserved. if museums like this, we can change the perception so that history is seen like not something peripheral or extraneous or select few but rather central to the understanding of who we are as individual and community and as a nation and as human beings. why is that important? because as martin luther king has said to declared the quote,
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"he who controls my mind and body, he controls my history, controls my mind." >> my vote and yours, too. if we look at trends and schools and high rate education and jobs for history phd and culture, we have a job cut out for us. to count these pressures how history museums including this one and history museums across the nation, build bridges so that people care antibiotbout h. one way of the future. history museums are seen in places that matter or places that people feel safe and respected and challenged to be sure but respected. complacent of the history of people. featured in engagining exhibits
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and programs. >> they feel history is respected and not shut down. safe places, scholars and preservations and citizens and communities and activists and different points of view. they come together and discussed issues and breaks down. >> places where people ancestors trapped of prejudice and locked in conflicts one another can come together and discussed how they are shared zz ha. for this symposium, i invited
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the nate senate of slaves and s of slave owners, rebecca campbell, braxton, chandler and drayton nelson and her cousin allison rador come. we do have with us, three descendan descendants. i would like for them to stand, please. easter, rebecca and katherine bra braxton. >> eastster chandler and rebecc campbell. i hope you got the opportunity to talk to them during break and at this symposium. >> their ancestors came over in
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slaves from bar by the wbados. their ancestors arrived and remaining at emancipation. we video taped all this history with them in black and white and we produce programs with them of members at the local family and state and national levels. >>e >> they want to learn more of the people not just o f the past but the present. the descendants point of view made for a personal, complex and nuance story. in addition, the senate learned from one another, both cognitively and spiritually, they got to know one another. we do expect respecting one another and respects of different points of view.
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the ticket for participation and our programs have not been forgive necessary ness or recon. >> we do appreciate the silences that's been referred. >> when they are together, we do have these programs. we go out to lunch together. it is important that the descendants know that dray hall would support their participation. participation will not lead to an embarrassing, got-you moment. i hope that you have a chance to talk to the descendents here and going out in your own community and locating people connected with your own work and bringing them to your school as and colleges and museums. support for history. we learn from that process. the collaboration of different
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history organizations and charles at the horrendous massacre at emmanuel church. three days after the shooting people leaving artifacts in front of the church testifying in the deep grievances and sympathies, wishing to support members of emmanuel. >> i called my friend of a long standing member of the congregation, drayton hall bullets and the civil right leaders and i asked her what may be done. >> she candidly says george, the church is grieving that we have not thought about saving
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artifacts. >> liv, would you please stand? [ applause ] so again, i encourage you to talk to her during breaks and so forth and get to know her. >> because they are very deep and engaged. >> she and i decided to call for a meeting of different history organization to see what may be done of hundreds of artifacts that are left out front, i am a vietnam vet and i have touched the whole artifacts that's left at the vietnam memorial. we talked about that and we formed the subcommittee dividing strategies of preservations of the church. it was stolen in the room that the city of charleston gave to us. to lonnie.
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there is an online coventtribut the website. i encourage you to go to emanuel ame as well. we have tweet and facebook and all the news programs of different ways of preserving digital media. we have celebration of -- mem y of -of -- of -- memorization. >> the church also wanted exhibition and the community haves worked wis have working with others. >> we'll hang 15 quilts and memories of the nine victims. five for the survivors and one
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for the church. 15 quilts out of a total of 400 that were received from around the world. in the theme of this exhibit, it is going to be healing, not forgiveness. that's a long process deeply personal. healing is something that we are all in need of. in sickness and in health, in all of us. >> that's the theme. >> the exhibit, the verses will be asked to reflect on your own situation and identify one thing that they can do to heal their community upon their return home. >> write that down. >> it is for them to carry through with their pledge. this way, we hope that the vis cassat tas will own their victims and going back to doing something in their own lives and helping to
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heal the communities and themselves. we hope to turn museum experience into action. another question that.n deals wh the public reckoning of history is how to enhance the relationship of souls of support for that history. too often, the common practice from museum and storage storage -- identifying and removing historical resources. use it in the exhibit or book and returning back to the community. the community that people benefit and the appreciation of local history is not lifted up for all the people to respect. that includes political leaders and decisions regarding funding the local his strategies and education. the public reckoning of history
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by that community is hard to enhance. the future, we need to see these patterns changed. the question is how will we or how will you help do so? >> as we strive to enhance the public reckoning of history, we must always be appreciative of one thing. surprise. all of us, young and old and african-american and caucasian or hispanic or whatever. we need to be opened to surprise. we need to be prepared for surprise and not afraid. >> history teaches us anything. it is the future. the future brings surprise. what's the one ingredient for this to happen? >> courage. >> we noeed to build bridges. do not get into cynicism whose calls are all easy to heed which can convince us that are not trying, we are being
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"realistic." as good bridges know, a bridge to be effective cannot serve as one side of a divide, it cannot serve just one side of the puppet. a community has diverse publics to connect and those publics may not agree, destiny for us as individuals as organizations to have courage and to put cynicism aside. to be effective bridge builderb, we need to work together and disremembering. we need to push one another beyond our comfort zone of whatever our station in the professions and the public and creating expanding circles that engage people of preservation of the interpretation of history, including tragic moments an and -- uplift our hearts. if we can find ways to do that, the public will take care of itself.
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thank you. [ applause ] >> now, we'll hear from redford who's worked on the plantati plantationatiplantation that is the influential for all of us. >> i am going to talk about the complexity and rewards o f a historic site to the point that it had historical legitimacy. inspired by alexander's roots. in 1997, i began a journey to identify my ancestors.
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>> i arrived on one of the hottest days of the year. clutching in hand an 1826 boiil of sale, naming and transferring my ancestors to 25 of them. he was one of the wealthest in north carolina. somehow i felt when i got there that i am going to see something that i recognize of my ancestors
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out. only the circa 1830s planter's home was opened for ra tour of the public. there i was standing all encompasses and all too familiar, elitist white male he interpreted tour. >> he cleared the land and cultivated the fears. [ laughter ] >> he built the mansion house. he married and had six sons and provided them a posh lifestyle. he was devastated by the outcome of the civil war. he died broke and brokenhearted. he rose again on the 3rd day. [ laughter ]
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[ applause ] >> and end of story. remarkably the tour guy never utter the word slave for that matter. there was a small cod tucked away from the corner which she actually described as -- what, we are the higher girls slept. oh. [ laughter ] >> there were domestic dependancies which had not been opened, they would have been the main of the slave communities and you could have included something. and of a distance field, there was an 8 by 12 sign that said,
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site of slave quarters despite extensive biography aies includ washington -- >> they still insist today of n uninstitutional and and to be able to recognize -- by the time i left ta day, holding still the bill of sale naming my ancestors. i internalized the line from ellison's invisible man.
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i am invisible because people refused to see my ancestors. >> and some plantation sites to cross the site of an industry wide option to render invisible slaveries, ugly stain and slavery victims to all generations. by 1986, i had documented to lineage of every slave family
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from somerset place. the record was there. and i had to publish those somerset and the geological study. >> the state of carolina gave me permission to have a little family reunion on the grounds and bringing all the families together as it happens around 2500 folks came. some from as far away as sierra leon including the descendants of former slaves and others wanted to be apart of such a historic event, including alex sayly who came. on that day, one elderly
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gentleman, who wore time on his face. he walked all through 14 rooms of that collins' family home. he stopped only to inspect the impressive craft manship. he stood proudly and announced when he finished his inspection. >> we did quite good, or did we? >> he claimed ownership of the building. he had claimed to his ancestors and he fully engraced the history of his ancestors and claimed somerset of his own. the event called -- news press and all three or four of the major television station camera
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crews and the broad media ignored visibilities to the enslaved men and women who liverlived and died at somerset place. >> one descendant, the majority leader of the state senate later wrote, i have always been proud of who i am. now, i have found a new appreciation and a new vision of where i and we as the people must go. but, now i know why. in 1988, i accepted a job offer for employment at somerset.
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the objective twowas to tap int the african-american mark. >> my specific and limited charge plan was to continue forever organizing family oriented or homecoming events and songs and dances and one day festival, period. is that funny how when you want to do african-american history, we can do a one day festival, not caucasian history. >> well, the department had a long range planned of, they were dpoi going to a visiting center of one day. tf it was going to be the state of the art and some exhibits there
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dedicated in telling the story of slavery. >> that would cover any obligations they have built to include african-american history. without slightly changing the tour. it was still in focus in 1988. what they did not understand that lessons learned during the civil rights movement should have convey to policymakers that expected, automatic deference and acceptance of the status quo representation of african-american history and culture like slavery itself had passed into history. we had passed the point that.
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well, if you think that's the best thing that we people can do? please. [ laughter ] >> as philosopher will durante put it, yes, i am a devotee of perspective and addict of integration. i want to see things fold. my obligation to the past and the present generations was to eliminate the states' options of ignoring the existence of 800 men and women and children who lived and died at somerset place of 400 body who is are still on the ground. >> despite delays and suggestive threat and companying the uncompromised administrativ
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administrative -- of main straining of slave owner and on one canvas, i knew that reconstructing permanent, representatives, homes and other relevant structures in the former slave community was the only logical strategy to eliminate permanently. the option of symbolic an and -- when your purposes are noble and goals benefit mankind, all that you need to achieve them will be available to you. what did you say?
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[ laughter ] by the way, does not mean they're going to fall on your lap. [ laughter ] among the resources available to me, first of all, were legislatures, you cultivate relationships with legislatures who signed on the dotted line for the money to do whatever you want to do. that included the north carolina black legislative caucus. also, available where a stunning, i would be afraid of who i would leave out, stunning array of historians and archaeologists and volunteers from a nonprofit because the first thing i had to do was to form a nonprofit because if i had to go to the state to ask for every penny, we would be broke and being nothing right now. the other thing i advise anybody
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to do is first get some money, form of nonprofits so you don't have to depend upon the state or taxpayers for everything you do. today, after many seasons of funding, research, one time timtim? >> i am almost through. >> after funding and research, somerset place has integrity and intelligence and historical legitimacy. people embrace humanity. in the reconstructed homes of davis, they are introduced to an enslaved grandmother. they learned how she struggled and see photos of our grandchildren and how she struggles with all of life
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challenges. she's an african women bought of the plantation long of 79 others directly of africans of 1786, at the hospital they learned of the economic aspects of plantation life and see and we'll skip that. we'll get there. >> i do have to say, adding to the reallyisomerset place of th and the jail. visitors now, toured the one off limits and domestic dependanci s dependancies. >> instead, they learned how he balance all of life privileges. as historian peter woods say
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says -- educating citizens of the social history. at somerset there is a smooth paradigm shift moving to inclusive and invisibility and the anemic to the community narrative to the historically integrated we tour. [ applause ] >> and now the lord hayden will help us understand by looking a t the challenge of place and a lot of her work. >> deloris, if you would?
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>> thank you lonnie, i am honored to be here. it is been a remarkable couple of days. i have learned a great deal. my talk is called the shape of time. outside the doors of history museum, urban rain reveals the shape of political and economic life to those who can decode buildings and landscapes. >> but, urban vernacular buildings offered the opportunity of interpreting of everyday life and cities. over the past decade
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decades -- preservations generated some protests. people asked, well, where are the sites o f native americans or african-americans or latino or asian american history? >> people asked where are the workers' landmarks, where is women's history and why are the few women honored and never women of colors. >> i think that one could ask where are the slave markets in kitchen -- showing future generati genera generation a generations and how space was divided. we could ask the rare neighborhoods of stereotypes of racial and economics segregations. the politics of identity how ever they may be defined oas rae and gender and class are in escapable when dealing with
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urb urban environments. while historians have ignored space, it is the volatile conversations of politics and space that makes urban built environments that can illuminate many of the questions raised by other palace in the last two days. sometimes spatial history can fill silences in the archive. >> to study race and capitalism, look at how bull dosers battled urban landscape in the '50s and '60s. when people losing homes to highways and urban renewals.
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and amplifying the damage from demolition and amplifying from mortgage discrimination. >> change ing the priorities is not simply a matter of acknowledging the losses o of -- or correcting the bias of legacy and patrons. it is not enough to add a few native american preservation projects or women's project to the landmark. in 1983, i found a nonprofit in los angeles called the power of place. i suggested that the framework of livelihood to encompass urban
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history and to define a new approach to preservation of an urban approach. livelihood crosses boundaries of race and class and gender and age. it includes both paid work and paid work of nurturing. abroad, urban livelihoods can reveal the labor behind any city's economic growth. >> downtown la, to represent the work of women, children and men and native american and african-american and latino and white and the sites of span and the early 19th centuries to the mid-20s. oil fields and garment factories and fabricated and housing factories as well as mid wives and firefighters.
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i was inspired at that time by projects, public history projects such as jack chen's eight pounds livelihood, projects on chinese laundry workers. >> i represent cultural relationships and identity that's formed not out of legal membership but out of cultural belonging. >> as an urban landscape historia historians, i proposed this itinerary to suggest of an inclusive way of understanding urban history. >> yes, many years later, i would say that the power of place and ordinary urban
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landscape to hold citizen memories to accomplished shared time and still remaining on tap for working people. to capture and restoring shared meanings and claiming the urban landscapes -- finding ways to interpret older patterns of labor that are still recognizable in the current flow of city life. >> in la, i have my grad students who included many active in the field now. we ran public history workshops where we discussed the process of remembering and workers and retirees and including firefighters and mid wives and
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among others. i would say how could we fail to nudge the numbers in los angeles at that time. in the mid 1980s, 98 parse% of official landmark celebrated anglo history and 96% celebrated men's history. it was a lot of room for improvement. we partnered with ucla's ethic stu study center. that's when i met lana. we interpreted existing landmarks to recover ethics and labor history. we proposed new landmarks and wrote the applications for various designations we added public art to remember workers
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where no structure survives. mason, an african-american midwife, former slaves was a subject of one of the first public art projects. she was a pioneer. she was a single parent ahead of the family with three daughters. she was recognizablrecognizable. she expanded the story of the city building as boosters have heard of many anglo men. she indeed come from mississippi walking behind her mormon master with her three children and she managed to win freedom for a group of slaves in los angeles. artists helped recover the memory of her life as a midwife who delivered hundreds of babies and one of the founders of
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the -- some of you may have seen the video mason wall. the wall tells the story of both, the city and her working life. our next project involved three organizers, they came from russia, guatemala and mexico to los angeles. as immigrants, their stories were familiar. as working women, they make the story of union building and far contentious than the way it had been represented before. >> many more details of the los angeles work from that decade can be found in my book. the power of place urban landscape of public history. the archival research took a few
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years to ground it all, a architects and urban planters. the projects that we were unable to do. i also tried to mention the efforts remembering by other groups and individuals who followed us. 30 years later, i can report that there are many activist groups committed to community's involvement. there are many new surveys of landmarks available and many projects involving history succeeded and urban context becoming much easier. >> today even bulldoze places can be marked, reconstructing history of portable devices. >> there is people guide to los
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angeles and illustrated guide of the site of struggle of the wider region. and they tackled issues of class, race and gender and sexual orientation as well as a lot of union organizing. another group i admire, the los angeles urban rangers, including historians. they appear in customs of service rangers. they perform in landscapes and encouraging dialogues with citizens. max paige and marlon miller edited a collection of 50 essays called "bending the future."
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>> the book details imaginative projects interpreting size of ethics and women across the country as well as dozens of proposals to make the process of preservation more inclusive. and yet, some recent textbooks, on preservations including very little of architecture style. the struggle to represent everyday life goes on and it is i would say conclusion that it takes political, historical and spatial imagination to locate where urban livelihood can be preserved and interpreted to project the most enduring meanings for the city as a whole. thank you. [ applause [ applause ]
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>> now, let me turn to david white. >> thanks so much lonnie. we all expressed our grad constitute and i gratitude -- i am humbled. i did not bribe anybody. [ laughter ] anyway, i used to write a lot of memory at every conference that got to be. i was always the last speaker because that's when we dealt with memory and how it is all remembered. thankfully there is another panel after this taking up that vast question of american history and thank god i am not on that one. [ laughter ] >> i am going to do a very practical descriptive thing in my brief remark and frame it with the sort of thing that i used to do.
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>> james baldwin, we know him of the greatest essays of the american letter. the written voice of the civil rights movement in so many ways. he was a public historian. >> he did an interview in 1961, he did zillions of interviews. he was having a tough time handling baldwin who was not an easy interview. he was shooting from the hips. he was angry as the dickens. >> americans don't know their history and he answered every question before it was asked. turco, finally, mr. baldwin,
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what did you mean by a sense of history? >> baldwin in the interview does a brief, quiet moment. he said, well, he reads something that you thought only happened to you. he discovered that happened only a hundred years ago. this is a great liberation for a suffering struggling person that always thinks he's alone. i have always loved that definition of what it means to have a sense of history, it means that you are not alone. it is especially important for young people. turco got him to settle down, what do you mean of a sense of tragedy. he goes quiet for five seconds. he answered. george, i am so glad you are using the word tragedy. it is not a word that americans like. we don't like using that term. anyway, baldwin answered, well,
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people think a sense of tragedy is a kind of embroidery. something irrelevant that you can take or leave. >> that's what's the blue and the spirituals are all about. it is the ability to look on things as they are and survive your losses or not survive them. so know that your losses are coming. to know that they are coming is the only possible insurance that you have. that'll you survive in them. a sense of history and tragedies is not always plentiful in america. it is in this room. god knows. i am going to do what we have all done after a couple of quick stories and i will get to my practical and descriptive part. >> what is this thing called public history? >> we can spend all day with
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that and lonnie launched us on that. >> lets talk about public history in fron t of this guy. it is always somehow where history and memory meets. it is always where research and methodology meet or collide or all those people walking around on those halls. i was at a conference here that i am certain some of you were at. i think -- i cannot remember who was always there. it was at least 15 years ago. they had a great conference on what are is race at the german
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historical institute. great research center here in washington. opening panel was three brilliant people examining great details how race is a fiction. biologically it does not mean anything. it is a social destruction and an hour and a half of three terrific people, brilliant young people just nailing it. >> the great sidney mins where he taught us so much. >> he got up and i don't remember what he said but i never forgotten the moment. he said -- god, these papers are terrific and brilliant and the billi building. bill beautiful german buildings. the trouble is nobody walking out there believe anies any of .
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>> what we are doing here is very important he was saying but they don't believe that. we had to get to this them. another quick story, we were all consultants which was not opened for ten years and we used to go out there for weekends and create and dreams and consult and turned it over to the design team and they did whatever the hell they wanted. that's all right. our job that weekend on a saturday, each of us, i don't know, six or eight and jim horton organized us as usual. our job, each of us was to sit at a big seminar table, was about six or eight of the members of the board of this museum for two hours and run a
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discussion. my table, i had the -- my table is entirely african-americans. i had the school's superintendent and a famous civil rights lawyer. it was amazing. it was one of the toughest teaching moment of my life. what am i going to say to these people? what do you want to tell of the story and what it ought to be? to a person, they all talked about in one way or another and how they wanted their children to walk out of their museum feeling better. and i am being a little rehearsed there. they wanted a progressive vision. they did not want the story of shame anymore. they want a progress, they want people to walk out to feel good. there was one person that my table have not said a word. it was fred, the reverend.
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everybody knows who he was. he was living in cincinnati and he had not said a word. i think it was two hours. >> i did my teacherly think, revere reverend, what do you think? [ laughter ] >> he gave me a one sentence answer and forgive me if you have heard me said it before. i have only used it before. >> if you cannot tell it like it was, it can never be what it will be. it was a -- everybody at the table were like, gee whiz. thankfully, we were saved by lunch and it was time. he was telling us a lot and of course, from his experience, progress, feel good? >> i never really got to ask him much about that moment except i
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am sure of what was going on. come on. tell it like it was. the quick descriptive part and i will end with guess what, douglas. anyway. about five years ago on the back of the soenvelope and starbucks. lonnie and i -- we called it the yale public history. >> lonnie was more than an enthusiastic to support it. he still funds, more than half of it? >> really? >> you do? >> somebody in your office knows all about this. [ laughter ]
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>> it started with a phone call and now it is somebody else i am talking to. anyway. >> known in the profession now is lonnie. anyway, every summer and this is a fifth year in a row. we bring about 16 or so public historians and they all applied and application presses from all corners of the country doing anything to deal and anything can be slavery or anything that can be local interpreters and directors and national park service and etcetera, etcetera, we bring them here for a week. it is like a boot camp for public stohistorians. we are now up to 86 different individuals who participated in it. i am proud to say some of our alums are here. i am sure there are more of you here than i am aware of. >> aaron bryant is here with the institute of 2013.
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i am sure i missed -- and others who are alums of this institutes. we involved of 13 institutions of the first two years of the institut institutes. the first two years institutions had to apply. a site and familiar, drayton hall sent three people from your staff one year. the second two years we changed that. we did not have the institution supply. you get to come and be treated like an intellectual in a week which most of these people never got to do. they get to read books and assigned to read books. they attended lectures. >> from outside, lesley harris, had been a lecture every year.
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christie coleman who runs the war museum. rex alice came one year, two years, i think. >> each year we have done it and we had at least three staffs from aahc who comes and participate in the full week. i will just say one other quick thing about it. we have now, what we do with it now is a curricular approach. we used to let the institutions bring their projects and they, you know, they shop. it was great. now, everybody coming in as individual and we divide them into three groups and we all give them an assignment and we give them fictional $2 million budget and they have to invent an exhibition. this year's topics will be the plantation record which are very plentiful and the names of real
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slaves are mentioned. the second topic was the colfax massacre. and mejia jackson's life and career and chicago. >> it is amazing what people can create in laptops sitting three days in seminar rooms after they're told millions of dollars doing whatever they have to do. they have to come up with presentations and it is amazing of what they have to create. one of things that i am proud of. >> it is been a wonderful thing. oh, we have all graduate students. about six or eight graduate students and a few from yale and others from outside and some of those alums are their today as well. for graduate students, it is a
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chance to engage of the world of public history and learn what it is all about and how hard it is to tell the trajectory of a narrative on the wall for one hour of the public. i just want to end by reminding us what maybe all of us know, but that's -- this history has always been public. you can say that about all history. it is always public. for caafricans and americans. i want to point to one single moment, illustrating that and i will sit down. >> it makes me modest at first. it is the immediate reaction by frederick douglas and his community. '64 election as most of you know was probably the single most
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racist supremacies. >> i don't want to go into it all. the republican party, of course, shied away from the 13th amendment they had crafted and passed one house of corresponding but not the other. they went silent during the fall of campaign of e mmancipation because they're under attack. they would not let douglas go out in a stump for lincoln. they told him please stay home. but, never the less, election day finally came and lincoln was not reelected by 65% of the
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vote. what did douglas do? >> on a sunday after the election, he focused ame church. i thought of this this morning. oh, i got to use this. because this involves, this moment involves the church, the community, the nation, and arguably, one of the oldest stories in all civilization. douglas got up to start his lectures, speech, on that sunday, and immediately involved -- he told the story. noah sent the dog out to see if there were any land. the doves came back and the dove came back of an olive branch.
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>> noah sent the dove out the second time and it did not come back. noah raised the tarp and looked and the land was green. there was life. there was hope. where did douglas go for a moment of transformation or what he saw, the hope and transformation the emancipation may actually become real. let less than a week later, he went back to maryland for the first time in his life since he fled at age 20. 26 years since he step foot back in maryland. >> he went back to baltimore, the church where he first formally worshipped where he met his future wife, anna murray. at the front of the church where he arrived was his older sister
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where he had not seen in 28 years. elisa mitchell of his older sister, he had not seen since 1836. she came 60 miles to see her famous brother. she had nine children, name one of them is douglas. she followed his career even though she was a non-reader. he walked arm and arm with his sister to the front and got up to speak, what did he do? he reads the texts. tells about the doves being sent out and being back. >> today i am the dove. i am the dove. that i have come back to -- that my feet are on this soil and that you can see me. i am the dove. what's amazing about that is, you know, i was trying to figure
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out what's public history and how do we make our narrative public. everybody knew that story then. maybe not now. >> he went to the oldest rebirth story he had if western civ civilizati civilization. the flood to find meaning for emancipati emancipation. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> i would like to open up to questions right away. if you have any questions or comments, please line up with the mic and we'll go from there. >> i gather you are ready. >> i am. >> you got to speak close to the mic so we can hear you.
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>> is that better? >> no, it is not. >> thank you, i am really mesmerized by this conference. i used to attend conferences and i stopped and became a politician and of course, thanks to george mcdaniels who dragged me here. i am liz austin from south carolina. >> i am a member of the historia historians at manuel ame church. today is about the 237 days
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since the june 17th massacre. everyone had been coming emmanu emmanuel. i invite you to come to visit mother emmanuel. my e-mail, i want you to write down 110 calhoun street, charleston, south carolina, 29401. please, let us hear from you. if you are ever in charleston at 9:30 in the morning on behalf of bishop franklin la norris and our new female pastor, we took 33 men to get it right. [ laughter ] [ applause ] >> thank you. it is been a wonderful conference. i don't have any questions. for what, i am a questione questioner -- it is been great. i will be attending more of these conferences in the past rather than social studies and
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principle conventions and school board conventions. i had 11 jobs with the school district, i am bad hock home, t you and god bless. >> thank you. [ applause [ applause ] . >> i think that's a tough one to follow. i am here as a public citizen. i have been living in the district for the past 15 years. i am a graduate of georgetown university. my question is for lonnie bun. bun r bun bunch. i think that new museum has the opportunity to touurn that on i head. we follow twitter, hey, can i apply for jobs there. is this the appropriate sfpace
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for me. i am wondering of the curators of museums and what the museums may seek to do of diversity of hiring and more people of color of curators of museum exhibits. >> good question. [ applause ] >> i am proud to say that i have the most diverse staff in america. [ applause ] .
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next american history tv in prime time takes you inside the national museum of african-american history and culture. we'll show you exhibit galleries and artifacts and conversations with staff curators and the author of a book about the krooe creation of the museum. >> you are looking at the national museum of african-american history and culture on the mall in washington, d.c. it is the newest smithsonian museum opening back in september. and this week it


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