tv Remembering African American History CSPAN January 21, 2019 9:35pm-11:11pm EST
my name is sylvia cyrus and i am the associate director . i am delighted to have you here today as we salute our veterans and our theme, african americans in times of war. that is the guidepost for this week's event. we are excited to share this date with those who have and our service in the armed forces
and civilian roles. i want to take a moment to thank you and our sponsors for making this possible. your conference backer sponsored by end of any indiana university. in addition, the support has been tremendous. the gold sponsor, the hutchinson center for african and african-american research at harvard university over sponsored by alpha fraternity. there is a lot of talk about fraternities. we do except support from all members of the divine number nine. the host committee member and his company, professional management enterprises is a table number seven and finally the honorable senator elizabeth warren of massachusetts who sponsored a table for local veterans to attend as a salute to their service.[ applause ]
>> we are delighted to have duke energy who has been a great supporter of the conference today as well. thank you for your service. table number six. >> absolutely. [ applause ] >> this afternoon we are very fortunate to have as rmc author and journalist a'lelia bundles. she grew up in indiana last indianapolis. she has written four books about her great, great grandmother madame cj walker. the hair carry hair care industry pioneer whose business was based in the city for many decades. the book on her own ground, the life and times of madame cj walker is in production for the eight part netflix series starring octavia spencer.
isn't that wonderful? [ applause ] . she is the chairman of the national archives foundation and is the life member. without further ado, one of our shining stars and always there to help us out coming in for today. please welcome, a'lelia bundles. [ applause ] . >> good afternoon. so, nothing like being in your hometown. just really glad to help and all of my friends from all over the country. this is a wonderful reunion. yesterday i think i met carol washington. i don't know if she is here are not. her first time coming. retired from the military. her professor is lillian
williams and she told her she had to come. she can go to whichever conference but this is where the people are and where you will be welcomed. that is what i feel when i come. although i have lived in dc for many years there really is no place like home. i hope all of you will take the time to learn something about indianapolis and indiana history of african-americans. many were not sure if black people lived in indiana but we are here. maybe you will get the chance to go to the indiana state museum where i understand there is an exhibit on the robert settlement. they moved from the 1830s. we have been here a long time. i hope you will find out about the other things. i am really sorry that the madame walker theatre center is not open right now but it is being remodeled with a $50 million gift from the lilly endowment and it will be open late next year..
>> i think you will enjoy today's salute but it a few items before we start. first, if you have not noticed with the big bright likes, they are taping this afternoon. c-span is in the house but please do me a huge favor and silence your cell phones. mine went off from a telemarketer. mine is silenced now. we don't want them going off in the middle of the program. we encourage you to use your cell phones to send messages and photos about today's luncheon. anybody who is following you on facebook and twitter and instagram. when doing this, here are the hashtags. asalh . asalh 2018 . let's get
that trending. i thank you for that. also take note that we had a voter registration table in the back of the room today. if you are not registered, you still have time. everybody that is registered raise your hand. i don't want to see any hands down. please vote. nationwide voter registrations. something for every state. if you are not registered, do so at the luncheon. friday and saturday and poetry night. no excuse. i know i am preaching to the choir but seriously, make sure everybody is registered in your family. i am glad. please welcome the reverend, martin luther king who gave us grace at the beginning. the executive director of the indiana christian leadership conference.
>> one thing that we do want to do is invoke the presence of our supreme being well we are here today. let's reverently give grace and respect to him and this organization. eternal god, we come here today thanking you and praising you for the mindset and the wisdom of carter g winston. we are eternally grateful for the concept and ideas you have bestowed upon him to make us aware of the presence of the african-americans mail, way male-female women in child. we thank you for the blood that
we share among veterans who were at one time, as a race, not even allowed to serve in the military of the united states of america. but for those who were able to and did serve and for those who gave their lives, as a memorial to them we say thank you, lord. for those who are here and present today, continue to bless them in a manner that will help them to be proud and to help them to understand the importance of them sharing in the war that gave us as americans a place to live inside a boundary without fear. and so as we close we ask your guidance and your blessings upon this program, and to know that you are indeed welcome in this
place. in the mighty name of the one we love so much, amen. >> thank you very much reverend. and now it is my pleasure to introduce this year's annual honorary chair. the brigadier.[ applause ] . he is indiana's first african- american brigadier general. with more than 34 years of combined active and national guard leadership experience he currently assist in leading more than 14,000 national guard service members. >> thank you, ma'am. [ applause ]. >> there is a slight
correction. the first african-american to be promoted to the brigadier general in the international indiana national guard. i want to make that clear. good afternoon. ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, fellow veterans and especially the vietnam veterans. it is an extreme honor and privilege for me to serve as the honorary chair for the hundred and third 103 conference and i want to take this time to thank dr. higginbotham and the executive board for allowing me this opportunity. i want to welcome each of you as we pay tribute and celebrate the african-american men and women and not only african- american men and women but all of those who have won the
fabric of our nation are protected our interest at home and abroad. particularly we want to honor and recognize those who have served and supported the vietnam war. to the vietnam veterans i want to say welcome home and thank you for your service. [ applause ] >> i want to thank you for all that you have done to paved the way for veterans and servicemembers, many like myself who followed after you. first i say welcome home because many of you did not receive the warm welcome you deserve upon your initial return from asia. in fact, some of you were met with protests, harsh words and other things and in some cases you are told to get
out of your uniforms as quickly as possible in order to avoid confrontation. this was a wretched time in our nations history. i say thank you because you stepped up, stepped forward and answered the call of our nation and protected her and our constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic. you did this with duty, honor, commitment and dedication and selfless service. i want to thank those fallen comrades and their families. i thank them for their service and their sacrifice. lastly i want to thank each of you for attending this luncheon today. i hope you will enjoy the program ended the meal. thank you.[ applause ] .
>> thank you so much. it really is important that we are honoring the veterans of my generation who were in vietnam. i know the national archives has had a year-long commemoration. thank you very much, general black. those of us that are here know the history of african- americans in the military. we know that we built this country. there is some of us like me that have great-grandfathers in the continental army during the revolutionary war. we have been here and we are real americans. i want to say that. another round of applause for the brigadier general.[ applause ] . >> a special joy to introduce reginald duvalle. a long time friend. our families have known each
other for three generations. he is president of the tuskegee airmen and in the 25th class of the air force academy. he embodies indianapolis history with a family legacy of accomplish music been musicians and in my history i learned his grandfather opened the madam walker theater in december 1927. . >> thank you, thank you. welcome to indianapolis. i bring those greetings and a challenge on behalf of the indianapolis chapter of the tuskegee airmen. there is only one of other 50 chapters throughout the nation.
i encourage you to explore your chapter. there is a time when many thought some were more entitled than others to the american dream based on just how they looked. am i talking about world war ii or am i talking about today? it's my contention that this week's conference is a great occasion for you each, for all of us to relive the tuskegee airman experience and the goals that they aspire to and incorporate them into our lives. an officer, what you have to do before it flies is preflight it. so i'm going to preflight my comments here with a little bit of background. there is over 15,000 men and women in the tuskegee airmen
experience, men and women, black and white. so i challenge you-all to recognize everyone that is working with you, not just those that are in charge or in the spotlight. the plane didn't fly without the supply clerk. so here we go, just like the airmen, who were all volunteers, i don't think anybody here is nonvoluntary. so you are just like the volunteers of the airmen. you can read. believe it or not, all the airmen could read. and not only read, they could understand what they read and they acted upon that understanding. so this week i'm hopeful that you look and share the literature among your friends and act on the encouragement you get from other leaders. you, like the hair men can and exceeded the expectation of
others, first that black men couldn't fly. and give your best effort, i'm confident that whatever role you play you are going to surpass the expectations of others and hopefully surpass your expectations. you, like the airmen who worked with others they wouldn't normally crossing social boundaries of their time to achieve and set standards of excellence for today's united states air force, you too can reach across disciplines, organizational and geographic silos to envision and imbrace new possibilities for your organizations, just being like the airmen. you, like the airmen, who had the courage to do the right thing without expectation of reward, yes, right here in indiana. there were 100 men said they wouldn't go through the white
officer's club. it is my contention they did not do that in 1945, expecting to get a congressional gold medal in 2007. so my contention is that you, like the airmen, keep your eyes, keep your heart with your country and your eyes on the target. this, ladies and gentlemen, is the 477 that flew down in sea morgue, indiana and columbus indiana. this patch was never made because the unit was disbanded after the field mutiny and the field was declined. there was no reason to deploy them. this, i would suggest is the embodiment of the question of african americans at the time of war. their hearts were with their country and they had their eyes
on the target. so congratulations on over a century of individual collective effort and especially on your choice of today's recognition. i know personally from working with many different vietnam veterans that the tuskegee airmen legacy would not be what it was if you did not live out their standards. so with that, i will close. may the keeper of all watch over all of us while we are absent one from the other. thank you. . >> thank you very much, reggie and listening to him, reggie is a little younger than i am. but our parents, our fathers,
that generation in indianapolis, they were mostly world war ii veterans and korea war veterans and they were the people that really set the example for us. they set such high standards for us and made such a difference, so we pay tribute to them as well. we were talking about charles debow, who is now very well known because michelle obama mentioned him, but his kids were kids we played with. we were surrounded by greatness and didn't know it. i now want to introduce a woman who was scholarship and grace i have admired, our national president for the association of the study of african american life and history, dr. higgenbotham. she is in the history department
at harvard university. she is the nations foremost authorities on african culture. those of us who have done any work have used her book. please welcome our president. >> thank you very much. welcome to the salute to veterans luncheon of the association for the study of african american life and history. i speak for all of us when i professor my profound gratitude to the men and women who served in every capacity and in every branch of our nation's military. this luncheon is in honor of you. i have the distinct privilege of introducing our keynote speaker and one of my heroes, the hon
rational robert l. wilkins. judge robert wilkins is a son of indiana, he was appointed to the united states court of appeals by barack obama in 2014. he received his law degree from harvard university in 1989. he has had an illustrious career, beginning in the public defender's office in washington, d.c., and later becoming partner in a prestigious law firm. and yet with all his achievements, he was the victim of racial profiling, which led him to take the state of maryland to court and to win a landmark civil rights victory that called for reform in police stop and search practices and the collection of data regarding
those practices. judge wilkins has won many awards. in 2008, the legal times called him one of the "90 greatest washington lawyers of the last 30 years." and when i say he is one of my heroes, it is not simply because of these achievements. i read his book. long road to hard truth. the 100 year mission to create the national museum of african american history and culture. and he will be selling and signing his book after his presentation right over there. long road to truth is a must read because judge wilkins is the crucial figure in the establishment of this great
museum in washington, d.c., of which we are so very proud. it was his knowledge of a much earlier vision of black veterans for such a museum. it was his sacrifice and his determination to pursue congressional authorization for the museum to be situated on the national mall. millions of people have now visited the museum. i know many of you in this room have visited that museum, which is led by dr. lonnie bunch, to view the history of african americans in full display. we are indebted to you, judge wilkins, thank you.
. good afternoon. thank you, dr. wilkes higgenbotham for that introduction. i guess it's heroes day because we are celebrating veterans which are heroes to us and i celebrate my hero, dr. wilkes higgenbotham. i want to thank you for inviting me to your midst in this luncheon and i want to talk about the journey to create the national museum of african history and culture, which, as you heard, is conicaled in my book which you see there on the
screen. it is relevant to this conference because the spark that lit the flame to begin the movement to create this museum was african american veterans. and to understand that we have to go back to the end of the civil war and at the end of the civil war, once the confederate army had surrendered, decided by president grant and general johnson, that there should be a victory parade to honor the troop that is had sacrificed so much and literally saved this republic. so they organized what is called the grand review of armies. it took place in two days in washington, d.c. about 160,000 soldiers marched down from the
capitol. you see them assembled there down pennsylvania avenue to be greeted by president johnson, cabinet secretaries, all of the dig tears and of course tens of thousands of thankful citizens cheering them on. it was front page news and every newspaper across the nation, it was deemed one of the grandest spectacles that had ever been done. it was just one problem. none of the african americans who had fought in combat were invited to participate. the official story was that none were available. none were around. we've heard that before. you can read the evidence to the contrary in my book. there was black representation in the parade.
you see, general william sherman did not believe in having black combat soldiers, so he did not have any serve under him, but he had black soldiers and others who served with his army as part of what was called the bummers brigade. they were scouts. they helped to build roads and bridges. helped to attend to the cattle and cook and all those things that were important, especially with his army going south behind regular supply lines. so they needed blacks for intelligence and scouting and all of those auxiliary things. so he let him come into the parade kind of at the end on mules and carrying pick axes and shovels and things and of course the predominantly white crowd thought this was very funny
because this person chronicles that these forgers were the most comic append damage in the army. so these served with significant roles and dignity were laughed at and those that served in combat were forgotten and exclude completely. this did not sit well with the black community and you see here a historic marker outside harris, pennsylvania because they decided they would have their own review. so there was a u.s. color troops grand review in harrisburg a few months later. but of course it's not the same as having been included in the grand review in washington. why is it you think they weren't included? well, one clue you see here from the battle flag of the 24th regimen of the color troops,
it's hard to see, but the model was let soldiers in war be citizens in peace, because after all, these black soldiers were fighting not just to preserve the public, they were fighting for their humanity, for their citizenship, for the end of slavery, for equal rights. this meant a lot more to them than just winning a battle. they wanted to preserve the country, but to gain their true place in the nation and perhaps having them in that parade was too much for president johnson and some of the leaders because that might endorse this model, and so best thing to do, leave them out. further evidence that this might have been the motive was president johnson's speech. two color troops.
he did finally greet them in october 1865 at the white house. there was a district of columbia regimen of color troops. the dregimen couldn't be at the review. but he dressed them down and told them they needed to understand their proper position. this is a headline from i think the washington post about this, and that they need to understand their rights to residency in this nation is a problem and no law can make a white man out of a black man. they said be patient and maybe in due time you can have some citizenship rights. now, of course, the confederates who fought against the country and committed treason, taking up
arms against the country, were able to swear an oath of loyalty and they were given their citizenship rights, but these black soldiers who had fought for the union were told, you know, wait your turn. so you are asking me what does this have to do with the african american museum? well, 50 years later it was decided to do a reenactment of the grand review. and this is from the new york times in 1915 and they anticipated civil war union veterans from all over the country coming to washington for this reenactment. the good news was black veterans who were still alive were going to be able to come and participate. the bad news was that this was the era of jim crow. so the veterans organization that put this all together, the
grand army of the republic said all of the balls and banquets and tours and everything accommodations will be for the white veterans, the black veterans, you are on your own. and so a group of african americans put together a committee, the colored citizens committee to greet these members of the grand army of the republic and got people to open up their homes because these african americans couldn't stay in the hotel in washington and the organized tours and balls et cetera. so they were able to come and participate. and here you see an image of them coming down pennsylvania avenue in 1915. of course some were too old to make that 2-mile journey from the capitol past the white house and had to be driven in vehicles or horse back or lean on the
shoulder of someone. but at least there were black union soldiers that were able to come and finally get their due and review and where president woodrow wilson saluted them. but it was bittersweet not just because of jim crow and all of the segregation and exclusion those veterans had to go through, it was bittersweet because the movie birth of a nation came out in 1915. it had been screened by woodrow wilson that year earlier. it was taking the nation by storm and i'm sure most of you know what birth of the nation is all about, but for those who don't, it is a celebration of the klu kluxx klan, the whites
were happy, the blacks were happy. the north comes with this war of aggression. they win. even had the tumerity to arm blangs and they stayed in the south and were essentially roughians that intimidated and assaulted the white women, so the klan had to rise up and chase off these soldiers to intimidate black people so they would not vote because they were voting and were sending incompetent black legislatures and so the klan came and stopped all of that and the whites regained their place in the
south and it was a birth of a nation. and the movie was taking the country by storm. so this was the scene, the spector during this 50th anniversary in 1915. there were people who thought that something needed to be done about that. one person who thought that something should be done about that was, of course, dr. carter g. whit son. there was a headline from early 1916 about how now they are about to write negro history , celebrating the first edition of the journal of negro history and of course the founding for the association of the study of negro life in history in 1915. and scholars have said that dr. woodson was inspired in part to respond to birth of a nation.
but that wasn't the only response. that colored citizens committee that had formed to welcome and host the black civil war veterans decided to form a nonprofit with the money that they had left over and they were going to raise more money and created what they called the national memorial association to build a permanent physical monument in washington, d.c., to negro soldiers and sailers, so their place of honor would be in the nation's capitol so no one would forget their sacrifice from their war to the revolution war up until that time. and they were inspired by birth of a nation. this is one of their very first flyers from one of their first meetings in may of 1916. there is a couple things that are significant about this. look at the top, the birth of a
race. the movie birth of a nation was showing in washington, d.c., at this very time and they felt that what they were doing was a way for them to respond. the second thing that's significant about this is this took place at the 19th street baptist church. , a historic church and the pastor at the time was reverend brooks, our own dr. brooks higgenbotham's grandfather. so they were going to fight back and fight back with this movement to create a memorial. and this was very tough sledding because the southern democrats and congress were against these bills.
they were actually introducing bills to ban african americans from serving in the army during this time. but these people were without fear and they organized and they raised money and they started chapters in states all other the country and within a couple of years, they actually realized that this memorial should be more than just a memorial to veterans. of course our service in the armed forces is important, but we've contributed in the arts and education and inventions and business and music and you name it. we should have a national memorial building to negro achievement and contributions to america. so they introduced legislation beginning around 1920 for that purpose. they hired an african american architect named e.r. williams and this is his design.
he built a 4 foot, 6 foot scale model and that's what you see there. it took a lot of fighting, but they actually got the bill passed by the u.s. congress in march of 1929. but because of the opposition of the southern democrats, all of the seed funding was stripped from the legislation. now, march of 1929 was not a good time for that to happen because what happens in october? the stock market crashes and the country enters the great depression. so this was approved by congress, but given no federal support and no federal funding. the depression hits and basically the project is doomed from the beginning. it doesn't get off the ground. so the people who are involved
essentially pass away and all of their efforts are forgotten, forgotten by the time we get to the 1960s. of course with the black culture, black arts movement, movement to really celebrate black history causes there to be a lot of interest in museums. and here you see an article depicting the foundation of what would become the disable museum in chicago founded by margaret burrows and her husband. so that was 1961. in 1965 dr. charles wright forms the african american museum in detroit. he started out with it being a mobile museum so they could go
to neighborhoods so that kids and other people could access it. he was bringing the history to them. and there was an effort by dr. charles wesley, then the executive director of as arcla to get a bill through congress in 1968 to actually create a national museum or a national institute for the study of african american history and culture, and here you see dr. wesley's testimony in congress at a hearing in march of 1968 for that purpose. james baldwin also testified at that hearing. he told congress, yes, you should do this, but you should understand my history contains the truth about america. it is going to be hard to teach it. i paraphrase baldwin's words
with the title of my book "long way to hard truth." he talked about how this museum or institute should study why all his heroes seem to end up dead, referencing medgal edwards, malcolm x, several others. several days after he said that to congress, reverend dr. martin luther king was assassinated. it didn't pass and no museum created. there was another effort in 1970s and '80s to create a national museum located at will bert force,oo. there were those who opposed it. the national park service who was going to be -- plan was to make it part of the national
parks service because the smithsonian wasn't interested in creating a national museum. the park service said we are not in the museum business, so we don't want it either. so it really couldn't gain a foothold within the federal government. with support from the state of ohio and private philanthropy and others, the museum would open, though, later in the 1980s and of course the director was a person that many of you know in this room, john fleming. but by the end of 1980s, the pressure was on the smithsonian to do something about creating the museum dedicated to african american history and culture. so they appointed claudine brown
to decide if there should be a museum and they said yes, there should be a museum and those of you involved in that effort, including my friend john franklin, who you all know who is here in the room. they came out saying, yes, there should be a national african american museum as part of the smithsonian and they began planning for that. but legislation needed to be introduced to really create a full-fledged museum. and they can never seem to get that legislation passed. it passed the senate, but not the house in 1992 and in 1994 they were able to get it through the house >> but jesse helms blocked it in the senate. it looked like the effort to create this museum was again
dead. so i really knew nothing about any of this and was not involved in any of those efforts as they were ongoing. i got married in 1995, and you see me about 40 pounds ago with my beautiful wife and a couple, luis and marjorie fraction at our wedding in 1995. we were living our lives not really thinking about this issue. and about a year after this picture was taken, brother fraction was celebrating his 60th birthday with his wife. they were at a birthday party. they were out on the dance floor, and he collapsed and died that very evening. my wife and i went to sit with his widow and family, and that evening we listened to all of
these stories, stories about growing up, some people going to one room, all black schoolhouses, other people were involved in sit ins or freedom rights or things during the civil rights movement, people involved in everetts to desegregate institutions, talking about the differences in black culture, music and all these various things and of course it was a sad occasion, but it was this beautiful rich conference and as we drove home, i said to amina, why don't we have a museum to capture this? and that's what lit the spark in me to find out what i could do to be a part of making this a reality. so i started meeting with people in the smithsonian and meeting with congressman john lewis who
was the primary advocate at this time for the museum in congress. and a group of friend and i formed a nonprofit organization to do what we could do to support the effort. i became obsessed i will confess on this effort, so much so i went to 3 days a week with my job and was spending the other 4 days working on this. and in august 2000, i had the revolution maybe if i could work on this full time, it could help move this project towards the finish line, so i shared with my wife i needed to quit my job to work on this full time. she was 7 months pregnant with our second child. but being the determined lawyer that i am, i was a public defender, i gave the best closing argument of my life, and i got her to say yes. and we agreed that we would go
from two incomes to one and change our daycare arrangements and eat a lot of beans and corn bread and do what we had to do to push for this. but it was also, i guess, a need in me to work on this. dr. higgenbotham shareded with you that i had been involved in this racial profiling lawsuit. i had been involved in that since 1993. up until that time and working as a public defender and seeing the blood and guts basically on a daily basis and destruction of lives and so see so many of my clients who were young african american men, you know, caught up in this criminal justice system and also many of them not really understanding the sacrifices that so many people had made for them along the way to be able to have halfway decent schools and have a right
to vote, et cetera. i felt like i needed to work on this museum. it was in some ways therapy for me. and so i and others began to work very hard with congressman lewis and that's our son born shortly thereafter and a few months later him and his brother. so besides the miracle of our young children, another miracle was happening and that was a miracle in congress because some key republicans joined congressman john lewis in really, really sincerely wanting to see this museum happen. then republican senator round back of kansas and republican house member j.c. watts from
oklahoma. other prominent republicans like rick santorum, then senator of pennsylvania and others came together so that here at this picture in may of 2001 you had all of the top leadership in the republican and democrat side all cosponsoring legislation to create a national museum of african museum of history and culture as part of the smithsonian. and you see hillary clinton and senator john edwards and here then congressman j.c. watt speaking and senator clinton and senator rick santorum and joking you will never see this group assembled all in favor of anything. but they were all in favor of this museum. and president bush is not at this press conference, but he behind the scenes was a strong supporter of this.
and he even dispatched vice president chaney, who was the vice president of the senate to meet with the republican senators and tell them that president bush wants this to happen and to get behind it. so i congratulated congressman john lewis at the end of that press conference and i thought this was a wrap. it was going to sail right through. we got the support of all of the leadership, both sides of the aisle. the president will have this museum in a few months. silly me. and then september 11th happens. so i guess just like that 1929 commission that was hit with the great depression, we were hit with the tragedy of the 911 attacks and congress and the
president were then of course occupied with issues of war, national security, intelligence, creating a new department of homeland security, a u.s. patriot act, all of those things. and it was very little oxygen in the room or appetite for creating a new museum, especially one that was going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. and so we had to go with a plan b. and the plan b was an agreement by that bipartisan coalition to create a presidential commission to plan this museum. and here is a headline about when that legislation was passed. and we essentially had a handshake agreement that this commission was going to be unlike the former commissions that had been created because
there had been about four different commissions that had been created previously to study this issue. but this would be a called a plan for action and if they came up with a good feasible plan and showed we would be able to raise the money to do this and there would be collections and a way to put this in the smithsonian and to have it work and that there was a location for the museum and we could answer all of those questions, then they would support a bill. so the commission met, and these are some members of the commission at a gathering in 2002. you can kind of see me towards the back of the net. you had museum professionals. you had claudine brown, who led the effort in the 1980s for the smithsonian was on that
commission. you had other museum professionals and some civic leaders and activists like me. you might see and recognize hank aaron who was fourth right in the back who was part of the commission of sicily tyson who was part of that commission. so we worked hard, rolled up our sleeves. john franklin was at many of those meetings on behalf of the smithsonian and we came up with a plan that we were all behind and we sent it to the president and congress, and it was turned into legislation. so in december of 2003 you see president bush signing that bill into law, and i had the good fortune of being invited to the oval office and you see me standing directly behind him as he is signing that bill. the bill passed the house by a vote of 409 to 9 and by
unanimous consent to the senate. so it was a true bipartisan effort. there was one sticking point, the national park service, the national capitol planning commission, some other civic organizations said that they disagreed with our recommendation that this museum should go in the national mall. they said that the mall was full. there is no room at the inn. it's not you. it's us. and that with the construction underway on the national museum of the american indian, that was the last site on the mall that was appropriate for the museum. i had chaired the chaired that
the opposition they raised when they passed, they left out where it would will located and they gave that to the smithsonian board of regents. you decide what the commission did and hear from everyone else and you make the decision. so we pushed for another two years and then the smithsonian board of regents in january 2006 made the monumental museum on the national mall. and there you see the founding director of the museum, lonnie bunch, along with his deputy on the roof of the national museum of american history smiling and pointing across the street where the national museum of african american history and culture would be erected.
six years later in february 2012 there would be a groundbreaking ceremony for the museum. and then there would be a design competition, an internationale national design competition where many people submitted their credentials and it was whittled down to six teams and then among those six teams this was the winning design by a team led by three black architects. david aja, free among and max barn. that was the winning design and this is what the museum actually looks like on the day of its dedication in september of 2016, just 2 years ago. now, include this slide is what lawyers would call exculpatory
evidence. i wanted to show that my kid didn't starve, my wife didn't, you know, throw me out of the house. i did go back and get a job. became a partner at a law firm. and then was honored to be nominated and appointed to the federal bench by president obama. so what does this story mean, this 100 year journey? i'm showing you a picture of a third parade. we had the first parade we talked about which african americans, 180,000 african americans served in the american union army to preserve this republic. they fought to literally save this nation. and they weren't even invited to
the parade. the second parade i showed you, they get the 50 years too late belated invitation and then we are treated as second class citizens and the spector of the birth of the nation was hanging over them. the third parade african americans were invited. in fact, it was for an african american, who happens to be commander and chief of the armed forces. so this time, as we see the parade coming down pennsylvania avenue, you see the tables had turned. and so you think about the symbolism of president obama speaking at the opening of this museum. this museum that so many people had been waiting to see and had
fought to build. at the museum to open it, they brought a bell from an african american church in virginia, a church that had been around since the 1700s, i believe, and they had ruth bonner, who was then 99 years old ring the bell. ms. bonner's father had been born a slave in mississippi. so you had someone one generation from bondage ring the bell signaling the opening of the national museum of african american history and culture at the center of the national mall with the black president of the united states. this is one of my favorite
photos. at the end of the ceremony because i think it exemplifies the spirit that was behind the creation of this institution, and perhaps it's a spirit that we need to think about how we can recover in washington, d.c. so as i bring my comments to a close, immaterial to thank all of the active soldiers and veterans here in the room because of your sacrifice and your inspiration, i think that this museum which you see depicted on the cover of my book is really a memorial in part to you. it is a memorial to so many who have sacrificed and served this great nation. and it is and it has been a long road and that
there are many hard truths because the other thing that you see depicted on the cover is a cabin that had been built and inhabited by slaves in south carolina, which the smithsonian found and actually dismantled and brought it board by board to washington, d.c., and reerected it and you will see it inside the museum. so i thought that this was a good depiction of that hard truth of the long road that our people had trod. but ultimately it's a story of victory. i think it's a story of us as african americans working to make america really america and to make the country live up to those solemn and important words
that you find in the constitution and in those founding documents because our story is a story of bringing those words to life. thank you all so much. [applause] . >> i'm glad that there was a spontaneous standing ovation because robert, there is so much that we owe you. thank you so much. the brilliance and glory of that museum, if you have not been there, you must make the pilgrimage because that is really what it is. and there is so much to ponder from what you were saying, so much of our spirit and the
spirit of our ancestors, so much deja vu, so i would just say vote. that's all i need to say about that. you know, one thing that came to mind was to make a poet black and bid him sing from cullen, there is a lot underlying what i'm saying, but paint him black and make him sing. please give judge wilkins another round of applause. while you were talking, it made me think of our good friend frank smith who is here from washington, d.c., who runs the african american civil war museum. and i just have to give a quit shout out to my peeps from the walker legacy center. please stand up. and now i would like to
invite a president and director to the podium to make a special presentation to this afternoon's keynote speaker. . >> because now we know that you are truly an asala person and asala member and joined our ranks, you will come to know when you attend the many, many conferences that are in your future that one of the most prized possessions that we give to individuals like yourselves who have done so much to promote the legacy of dr. carter g. woodson, that this organization
has a leather bound edition of dr. carter g. woodson's appeal we finally refer to the lost manuscript of publication that dr. woodson wrote before the education of the negro. thank you for that publication of what we are and what we do. >> thank you. >> and because you know we have to be out of here at 2:00, right, anybody that speak at 2:00, people are just going to leave because we have someplace else to go. so we are going to handle one other presentation here to our wonderful m.c., he was always there when we need her. we have -- my mouth is not working. we do the carter g. woodson house, we have a lovely ornament she can display in her home and
all throughout year to show how much we honor and appreciate what she does. >> thank you. >> let's give her a round of applause. >> anybody that has been to my house knows it's a kind of museum, so it will be just perfect. congratulations judge wilkins, i have one of those books and cherish it. now help me welcome alexa tucker in the spirit of this year's theme as we salute veterans. she is a champion of veterans. as a child of a disabled veteran, she takes special interest of preserving members of future generations and promotes the veterans history project and national initiative of the library of congress to archive the u.s. veterans.
. >> for the association for the study of african american and life history annual conference. hoosiers are proud to welcome you to our state as you host your conference in indianapolis for the first time. i applaud your decision to shine the light on the incredible contributions of african american service members to our nation. as a member of the senate armed services committee, i'm honored by the solemn responsibility of advocating on behalf of our country's service members and veterans. last year i was proud that my bipartisan education to veterans day was signed into law giving vietnam vets just some of the recognition they deserve so much. while words can't accurately convey our attitude, please know our country is grateful for your service.
our vietnam vets including those being honored tonight are selfless to your service and communities. thanks so much to highlight the history of african americans across the state and country and to all our veterans, thanks to your service for our country and all you have done for our country. god bless you, god bless indiana and god bless america. >> thank you. >> thank you very much ms. tucker and thank you to the senator. please let him know we appreciated his greeting and this year we are all paying attention to what's going on in the halls of congress. as we salute the historical contributions of our nation's african american veterans, we also want to take this opportunity to recognize the veterans here with us today. please join me in welcoming
brigadier general john p. rose who served in the artillery branch of the united states army for 30 years. even in retirement, dr. rose remained in the private sector serving in the international affairs from the university's graduate program in defense and strategic studies in the washington, d.c., area. also a policy advisor and consultant for the national institute of public policy, a vietnam veteran who served in country in 1969, dr. rose joined the war commemoration in july 2015 as strategy and international affairs. he raises awareness of contributions and sacrifice of the sallies of the united states during the vietnam war. this afternoon dr. rose will preside over a special pinning
ceremony of vietnam era veterans. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome dr. john rose. >> madam president, justice wilkins, member of the clergy, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, to my fellow vietnam veterans, thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity to honor you. yes, i am a vie ma'am veteran serving from 1969 to 1970. as general black has correctly identified, i remember vividly coming back into the united states, landing in seattle, washington and being met by a noncommission officer saying take off your uniform, you will not be welcome here in this country. but there is another story i wish to share with you that's very personal to me and one that
has really characterized my life. when i got to vietnam, first with the unit and with the 91st infantry brigade, i will never forget when i was given my first platoon, 21-year-old out of the university unprepared for the challenges i was expected to take on met with my platoon agent, an african american e 7 who i will never forget. he called me aside and said lieutenant, i know -- i know you don't have a clue and i know you are not ready for this, but if you listen to me and you let me show you what to do, you will be just fine and we will both leave together alive. i will never forget that sergeant first class williams, who i am sorry to say i have never been able to locate did for me, he trained me, mentored
me and i really believe that he gave me the fundmentals that allowed me to do what i'm doing today. my country wassing on fire. my assignment was to fort meade, maryland just outside washington, d.c., to an artillery battery that our job was riot control. for the next 89 days that's all i did. times have changed. i also want to take just a minute to reflect on the fact that vietnam covered a period of six presidents is started november 1955 when president truman sent advisors to support the french and ended in 1975 with president ford when he pulled the last americans out. over 58,000 of our fellow
americans died in that conflict and their names appear on the wall in washington dc. over 75 thousand, 75,000 today according to the va suffer from what we call ptsd, but we didn't know what that was back then. but our fellow vietnam veterans do suffer. there were and are over 1606 missing. and i'm proud and pleased to say that we still some find some here and there but we should never forget them. there were 7000 200 84 women who serve with us. eight of which gave their lives. and let's not forget the families. the families who stayed behind who endured a very, very difficult time frame. so it was the president of the united states, barack obama, on memorial day of 2012 that
issued a proclamation. i have copies of that proclamation that are open to everyone here. but in his proclamation, president obama said in recognition of a chapter of our nations history that must never be forgotten, let us renew our sacred commitment to those who answered our call in vietnam and those who await their safe call. the federal government will partner with local governments, private organizations and communities across america to participate in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the vietnam war. a 13-year program to honor and get angst to a generation of proud americans who saw our country through one of the most challenging missions we have ever faced. while no words will ever be fully worthy of their service, nor any honor truly benefiting their sacrifice, let us remember that it is never too
late to pay tribute to the men and women who answered the call of duty with courage and valor. now therefore, i, barack obama, president of the united states of america by virtue be a 40 vested in me by the constitution and the laws of the united states do hereby proclaim may 28, 2012 through november 11, 2025 as the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the vietnam war. i call upon the federal, state and local officials to honor all vietnam veterans, our fallen wounded, those accounted unaccounted for, our former prisoners of war, their families and all who served with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities. signed, barack obama. this is one such activity that has occurred throughout the united states by our small office in washington dc to reach out and to honor, to respect and to thank vietnam
veterans. vietnam-era veterans is not just those who serve in country it's those who supported ever because there were often times where you just couldn't, couldn't go there. i think that's critical and that's important. and that's why i am proud and i'm privileged to be here to bank and to honor and to present to both my fellow vietnam veterans and vietnam presidential lapel pin and both spouses and to those spouses whose husbands or wives have passed away a special pin that has been designated by the president for our fellow, our fellow comrades. so i thank you all. i really do believe in that very difficult time and as i reflect on what happened, you know what is unique about all of this is that vietnam veterans didn't quit on our country. when we came back we didn't hightail it back to canada or anywhere else. it's vietnam veterans that made
america great again. vietnam veterans. [ applause ] she's going to come and pick me up the stager in just a minute. ladies and gentlemen, i do want to honor, and i do want to thank your organization for what it does. the pinning ceremony that has taken place, i understand at the annual black history luncheon in february 2018, i also want to thank and personally recognize miss julia ellen davis. please, thank you resident of the charleston branch of asalah who hosted on sunday september 12 at mother emmanuel ame church in charleston. for vietnam veterans we know how special that is, thank you so very much. madam president, would you join me here for just a moment, please? she left because i'd like to
present to you on behalf of the secretary of defense of the united states, and on behalf of the chairman of joint chiefs of staff, i've got a certificate that i want to present that, you see, we know that we can't reach out to all of the vietnam veterans. there were 9.2 million of us who serve their. there are just over 6 million alive today, according to the va we lose 300 of our fellow vietnam veterans every day. and that is why an organization like this that helps us reach out, it's americans reaching americans and we wish to honor and to thank both of you for what you do on behalf of a very grateful nation. >> thank you. okay. [ applause ] >> i would be remiss if i
didn't express special inks to sheila because she has made all this happen. she arranged for the office to send somebody here and i'm honored and thankful to be here for a lot of personal reasons as well. thank you, thank you very much. ladies and gentlemen what i would like to do, i would like to invite all of the vietnam- era veterans to please come forward and join me here in front of the stage. and if there are any spouses out there who have lost their veteran, please come forward as well and i will invite the members of my table here to join me in order to help resent pins and to honor your contribution and sacrifice. [ applause ]
>> hello, it's senator joe donnelly i'd like to welcome you to indiana >> did that turn it off? [ laughing ] >> i'll get my stuff out of the way. don't worry. yeah, he actually arrived [ laughing ] so that was extremely special. thank you to all of you. [ applause ] so, i know this is, as dr. rowe says this is happening in many places around the country and it is a very much overdue thank you, just as the veterans who we heard about who judge wilkins talk to us about had their very overdue thank you. with the museum on the mall. one thing i would like to mention, sylvia who always, you know a swift note to the mc, reminded me i think that the fifth parade was organized by frank smith. am i correct on that?
yes. so there were parades and then there was another parade. [ applause ] it has really been a pleasure to be here with you. we thank our sponsors again, those people who believe in us, judge wilkins and evelyn said well will be doing a book signing outside. oh, i'm sorry, outfront, the mc needs to be corrected. but we will now have, and i will just say there are panels that are going on this afternoon. i'm on a panel with dr. tyrone freeman and some other good friends at 2 p.m. talking about madame walker i hope to see some of you there. and we will now have a benediction by a mom alcatraz president of the indiana association of muslim imams and chaplains .
>> good afternoon. i think it's only fitting that an african-american vietnam veteran gives the benediction. we pray in the name of allah the most beneficent the most merciful praise be to god the lord of all beings, the merciful, the of instant master of the day of judgment. dear lonely worship we call upon you for help, guidance on the street straight path, the path of those whom you have favored, not of those who have incurred your anger or go astray. our lord, we have gathered here today to understand and to learn from each other regarding the continued legacy and speaking the fundamental truth, established by dr. carter g. woodson regarding missing history and of our
preservation, research, interpretation, dissemination of information about black life, history and culture. we ask that you grant us the insight to see the truth and grant us the moral courage to openly proclaim it and abide by it. lord, grant us the insight to see evil in its true colors, no matter what others may say and save and preserve us from it. lord of abraham, the great prophet and patriarch of the three religious traditions, help us to follow in his footsteps, submit ourselves to you as he had completely submitted to you. our lord, we believe in you and the revelation sent to us and to abraham, ishmael, isaac, jacob and the tribes and that given to moses and jesus and
mohammed and that given to all the prophets from their lord. we make no difference between one and the other of them and we bow to you in obedience. our lord, you are the light of the heavens and the earth, give us the like to walk in, to live in and to be guided by. our lord, there are indeed clear signs in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the altered nation of night and day. for those of your sincere servants who celebrate your praises, standing, sitting, lying down on their side and ponder over the wonder and creation and the heavens and the earth and cry out our lord. we have not created all this universe in vain. lord be to you, our lord make us amongst those wise people and open our hearts and mind to your call. we have heard the call of one calling us to faith, we believe
in you, we are weak and we need your help. give us the strength to respond, our load make us who those who listen and follow the words that you have sent and the best meaning of it, free us from our weaknesses, our prejudices, our biases, our hatreds and our narrow feelings toward each other. create sympathy, empathy and understanding and love in our hearts for all and give us the ability to gauge in an honest and sincere and beautiful dialogue. free from recrimination and negative feelings, we ask that the positive impact of this conference, particularly gathering and its presenters affect the insights and sensibilities far beyond the composite space and we close by
saying [ speaking foreign language ] glory to you or lord , the lord of honor and power and peace be unto the messenger and all praise and thanks is to a law the lord of the world a man, a man, a man. -- amen, amen, amen. >> there is one little item that we did not take care of during the meeting and we do want to make sure that we do that. the deputy mayor turned his schedule upside down to make sure he could be with us here during this conference. and deputy mayor, would you please come forward and just give us a few words? we would greatly appreciate that, david hampton. thank you [ applause ].
>> good afternoon, i didn't have to say anything after all of that but certainly an honor to bring greetings to this august body on behalf of the city of indianapolis, mayor joe hogsett said i'm especially honored because one of the roles and responsibilities under which i serve is to oversee the office of veterans affairs. if i do a good job, don hawkins will let me know that. if i don't, you will let me know that as well. so i want to thank all of these servicemen and women as we celebrate the contributions of our african-american soldiers and all of those who have helped us historically to make it to the state. what a bear very profound book in history by judge wilkins i want to thank you for that and just as i close, just a bit of history as i saw carter g. woodson, i heard someone mentioned earlier the
distinguished men of alpha phi alpha fraternity , i have a great love for the men of alpha phi alpha. i do want you to know that one of the greatest leaders of our time was dr. martin luther king, jr. who was a member of alpha phi alpha but his mentor was carter g. woodson who was in omega. spend a lot of money downtown, please, thank you and god bless you. every weekend, american history tv brings you 48 hours of unique programming exploring our nation's past. to view our schedule and an archive of all of our programs
visit c-span.org/history. live, february 3, super bowl sunday at noon eastern, author and sportswriter dave siren is our guest on the tvs in depth. author of many books including what's my name, fool? the history of sports in the united states. game over, how politics has turned the sports world upside down, and his most recent, jim brown, last man standing. >> now i love sports and that's what i think we need to fight for sports we need to actually reclaim them, we need to take sports back. and if we are going to do so we need to know our history. that's our greatest ammunition in this fight. we need to know our history of the athletes, the sportswriters, and the fans who have stood up to the machine. if, for no other reason than knowing this history, i think allows us to look at the world and see that struggle can affect every aspect of life in the system, even the swoosh- adorned ivory tower known as
sports. >> join our life through our conference with dave siren. with your calls, emails and facebook questions live sunday, february 3 at noon eastern on book tvs and death. once spend 2. on may 17 1957 approximately 25,000 gathered at the lincoln memorial to demand an end to segregation and to lobby for voting and civil rights for african- americans . the prayer pilgrimage for freedom was organized to mark the third anniversary of the 1954 brown versus board of education school desegregation decision, and to condemn slow action by states and the federal government in complying with the supreme court ruling. next on "reel america" , a time for freedom, a 1957 film documenting the event.