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tv   Rosa Parks Civil Rights Activism  CSPAN  July 29, 2020 9:37pm-10:45pm EDT

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secretary of state mike pompeo testifies thursday before the senate foreign relations committee on the department's 2021 budget request. watch that live at 8:30 am eastern, on c-span three. online at, or listen live on the free c-span radio app. american history tv continues now, with remarks from civil rights leaders fred gray and john lewis on the life of rosa parks. they highlighted her activism with organizing boycotts and non violent protests against segregation and discrimination. this event was held to celebrate the opening of the new exhibit, rosa parks, in her own words, at the library of congress. >> please welcome the librarian of congress, doctor hagan.
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(applause) good evening. good evening. and welcome to the library of congress. it is our pleasure to have everyone here for a very special night, as we open the libraries newest exhibition, rosa parks, in her own words. it is my honor to welcome members of congress, including members of the congressional black caucus, members of the rosa parks family who have come to washington for this special celebration. can you give them a hand? (applause) we would also like to welcome the rosen and raymond parks institute for self development, led by miss elaine steel. that is another round of applause. (applause) and photographer,
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donna tour, whose photo of missed parts is prominently displayed and a vital part of the exhibition. and all the leaders and staff of the different cultural institutions across washington including secretary of the smithsonian, dr. lonnie bunch. (applause) and the archivist of the united states, mr. david fairy on. and our guests and staff and our viewers on live, this is being livestreamed, right now. i have to tell you, we are radiating with joy and pride tonight because it is our pleasure to open this beautiful and compelling new exhibition about one of our country's most beloved civil rights icons. rosa parks. the collection resonates strongly with me.
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after i was sworn in as the 14th librarian of congress in 2016, the very first collection i was able to see was the rosa parks papers. and library manuscript specialist, adrian cannon, who is a descendant of carnage you would sign, father of black history, showed me the connection. she carefully showed me the letters and private notes and photographs and written by mrs. rosa parks. adrian is here tonight, and is the proud curator of the exhibition. >> (applause) >> from the first moment i saw her family bible, followed by all of her personal letters and writings, i felt the overwhelming power of the collection. an example, in one letter, she
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wrote after the arrest, i had been pushed around all my life and felt, at this moment, that i couldn't take it anymore. i knew then, when i read those words, that we had to share these papers with the public for a much broader view. and in this wonderful exhibit, through her own words, rosa parks, you will discover, was not always writing for publication or posterity. she was writing in the moment and for herself. this is not the rosa parks we all met in textbooks, or in public service announcements. but it is the very complex, very human and the very real rosa parks. powerful story, a long fight for justice have always resonated with me. and as the first woman and the first african american to serve as a librarian of congress, i
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take special pleasure and having the rosa parks collection housed here. (applause) housed here, in the world's largest library, side by side with the papers of frederick douglas, abraham lincoln, mary church terrell and thurgood marshall. rosa parks lived a life dedicated to equal rights and social justice. she helped change the country with the example she set. as a statue of rosa parks stands with pride in the capital rotunda, in this exhibition, you will see her standing tall, quite literally, as her photos, images of her papers and videos tower more than 12 feet above you. none of this would have been possible without the generosity of the howard g buffett foundation, who made the rosa parks collection a gift to the
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library, and to the nation. it all started when jesse holland, a journalist at the time, learned that the collection was stored away in boxes in a warehouse. i wrote a story about it, and his story was red and seen by mr. howard buffett, who bought the papers and get into the library, so they could be preserved, scanned and seen by everyone. jesse is now a scholar residents in the library of congress, john center. -- that deserves a hand. (applause) the collection, comprises some 10,000 items drawn from both this miss parks private life and her decades of work for civil rights. it includes photos and correspondents, handwritten reflections, private notes during the montgomery bust boycotts and the struggle she endured after. adrian and our exhibit director,
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mr. david mantle and his team, have curated a beautiful gallery that will tell miss parks story in her own words, and photographs. it is our honor to open the exhibition tomorrow to the general public on december 5th. the 64th anniversary of the montgomery bus boycott. and as part of the opening, we are releasing, i am a librarian. this companion book, rosa parks, in her own words. written by the library susan -- and it includes many of the photographs and documents you will see an exhibit shun. we are delighted to be joined by the people from the university of georgia press, who worked with the libraries publishing office to create this eloquent companion piece. and we are also starting something with this exhibition at the library of congress, for the first time, we are launching a ask a librarian noble research station.
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within the exhibition. visitors will have the opportunity to right there in the exhibit, delve more deeply into subjects, themes, election materials and online research. resources related to mrs. parks life through direct interaction with the librarian. and before i go, i also have to acknowledge the generous donors who made this exhibition possible. the ford foundation, the catherine bee reynolds foundation, the reynolds are here. with additional support oh -- (applause) with support from aarp history, joyce and thomas more head who are also here. (applause) and the capital, we can't thank you enough for your generosity and for your support of this exhibit.
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as the curator adrian cannon explain to me, the storyteller of this exhibition is rosa parks. it is her words, and her voice, that will be echoing through the gallery as you walk around the display. it is the full story of rosa parks. the seasoned, lifelong activist and the woman behind the civil rights icon. (applause) he ♪ ♪ >> and now we are going to find out which of these ladies is the incredible rosa parks. will the real rosa parks please stand up.
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>> (applause) >> what supports is often taught as a sort of meek, seamstress who one day sort of accidentally stumbles into history and refuses to give a person on the bus, launching the civil rights movement. that version taught in schools, often celebrated nationally, very much distorts and limits who rosa parks actually was. her activism starts two decades before her bus stand, on december 1st 1955 and will continue for four decades after. >> as far as i can remember, during my lifetime, i resisted the idea of being mistreated and pushed around because of my race. and i felt that all people should be free regardless of their color. >> one day when i was about ten,
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i met a little white boy named franklin on the road. he was about my size, maybe a little bit larger. he said something to me, and he threatened to hit me, balled up his fist as if to give me a sock. i picked up a brick and dared him to hit me. he thought better of the idea and ran away. >> i love that. i love that. at ten, she knew the deep injustice of thinks. >> perhaps the case that guts for the most is the case about a 16 year old by the name of jeremy reeves. jeremy reeves was a high school student, a jazz drummer and delivered groceries. is he started having a relationship with a young white woman, a got fine found out, she cried rape. >> they put him in the electric chair and told him if he didn't confess, he would be
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electrocuted on the spot. he gave a false confession. she began writing letters and trying to organize against blocking that execution. got dr. king involved. and didn't succeed. he was executed. she would tell me how devastating that was, how it broke her heart. >> this is a rosa parks letter from 1956. i cried bitterly that i would be lynched rather than be run over by them. they could get the rope ready for me at any time they wanted to do their lynching. while my neck was spared of the lynch rope and my body was never riddled by bullets or dragged by an auto, i felt that i was lynched many times in mind and spirit. >> she was a believer that you had to dissent, you had to voice your objection even if you couldn't see that that would do any good. >> rosa parks, like my mom, has her own definition of who she
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is. she doesn't let anybody change that definition. >> health plan for a better world of tomorrow by giving all of the love, care and guidance to our children of today. >> as a child, when you read about important people, i thought that these were physical giants, people who spoke a language that was different from the language that i spoke. i found that those were regular people, and so i have always felt that a person does not have to be out of this world to accomplish something is extraordinary. >> we must have courage, determination, to go on with the task of becoming free. not only for ourselves but for the nation and the world.
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cooperate with each other, have faith in god, and in ourselves. >> i think we underestimate to the kind of courage it took to stand up to these forces that had silenced and marginalized black people from the very day we came to this continent. and yet, she was taking them on. i think it was really an amazing part of her legacy, was the courage, the strength, the bravery that defined her. as a human being. i think when we are involved in excavating american history, and coming to terms with the real history, i think too often, we find that most history is a sanitized madison avenue version. she is a lifelong activist, she represents the variety of strategies to combat the persistent racism in the united states. it is important that we liberate rosa parks and liberate ourselves from the tyranny of the superficial history. >> hurt, harm and danger. the dark closet of my mind.
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so much to remember. >> and yes, it's somewhere in the dark closet of my mind to, it can't help but be in the black closet of your mind. you should never forget, there is so much to remember. but also, know that this exhibit will show that rosa parks made a difference in moving us forward. and move forward, we must. even as we remember the past, we have to look to a brighter future. >> (applause) please welcome the
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honorable john lewis, representative from georgia. >> (applause). you go evening. >> -- good evening. >> you are a beautiful group. you look good. let me say to the librarian of congress, thank you. i don't want to cry tonight but i mishit some two years, thank you for open this place. who held this exhibit in honor
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of a savior of our country and democracy. rosa parks, gray, i don't know i would be. i don't know where our nation would be. i don't know where will we be as a people. this woman, by sitting down, she encouraged so many of us to stand up and since then many of us have never looked back and we will continue to look forward. freddy gray would tell you, my friend, my attorney, fred, you were an attorney for many of us. you probably had unbelievable
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number of clients. people just came and said, we need your help. i grew up in rural alabama. about by 50 miles from montgomery we said 48 to 50 miles from a guy murray. my father had been a sharecroppers for a farmer. but in 1944, when i was four years old, i do remember when i was for, my father had saved 300 dollars and a man sold him 110 acres of land. we still own that land today. (applause) kim >> growing up, people lived in fear. we saw the signs saying white
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only, colored only. white boys, colored boys. white girls, colored girls. growing up, i was told by my mother, my father, my grandparents and my great-grandparents, don't get in trouble. but rogue -- rosa parks inspired us to get in trouble. i've been getting in trouble ever since. (applause) >> he was saying when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have an obligation to say something, to do something. i met rosa parks. my staff had statements but i cannot stay with it. i have been moved by her spirit.
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if it hadn't been for rosa parks, growing up there, i don't know what would have happened to so many people. she inspired us to get in good trouble, necessary trouble. i followed the drama and montgomery, i followed your leadership, i followed the words of martin with their king junior, the action of rosa parks. we were too poor to have a subscription to the local newspaper, but my grandfather had one and when he would finish reading his newspaper, he would pass it on to us to read. i read about you, reverend aber nasty, rosa parks saying --
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i kept saying to myself, if the people can organize, we can to stand up and organize. a little college about eight or ten miles home bulk a blank student so i got a chance to get an application and apply to go to the school. i never heard a word from this school so i wrote a letter to dr. martin luther king junior. and told him i needed his help because i have been inspired by rosa parks. dr. king wrote me back and sent me a bus ticket and invited me to come to montgomery to meet with him. i cannot forget it. freddie gray is still the same
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way, so young. [laughter] >> met me at the greyhound bus station and drove me to the first baptist church past by the reverand abernathy and ushered me in to the church. i saw martin luther king jr. and abernathy standing behind the desk, and dr. king said are you the boy from troy? are you john lewis? and i said, dr. king, i am john robert lewis. i gave him my whole name. but he still called me the boy from troy. and over the years, i had an opportunity to meet rosa parks and to talk with her. she was so wonderful, so kind, and she kept saying to each one
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of us, you too can do something. she inspired us to participate in the sit ins, to study the way of peace, the way of love, to study the philosophy and discipline but non-violence. again, i want to thank you. i want to thank you for what you are doing to help educate another generation, to stand up, to be brave, to be bold, to be courageous, and for people to see something that is not right, not fair, not just, do something. we cannot afford to be quiet.
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we live at a time where we must save our democracy. save our planet. we must do what rosa parks did. when there comes a time to sit in, sit down, do it. there comes a time to speak up. speak up and speak out. come a time to get in the way or to get in good trouble, necessary trouble, do it. be brave. be bold. be courageous. rosa parks believed as i believed. we have a right to know what is in the food we eat. we have a right to know what is in the water we drink, what is in the air we breathe. and each one of us today must find ways to tell the story of rosa parks. one brave woman.
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with the help of hundreds and thousands have changed america forever. to use the way of peace, the way of love. to follow the teachings of gandhi and martin luther king jr. to make our country better, and to help save our little planet. so thank you very much for being here tonight. and again, let me thank the library of congress. thank you. (applause) >> thank you, congressman lewis.
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you are a living icon, and we owe so much to you. thank you for being here and thank you, thank you, thank you. and now, we have more special guests joining us for an extraordinary discussion on the life and legacy of rosa parks. we are joined by attorney fred gray, who made history by representing miss parks after her arrest in montgomery. and jane gunter, who offered her seat to miss parks on the day of the bus on december 1, 1955, and they will be joined by cbs news correspondent and the anchor of the saturday edition of cbs this morning, miss michelle miller, who will be moderating a discussion.
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please welcome attorney fred gray, jane dunker, and michelle miller. (applause) >> i feel honored and privileged to be here. madam librarian, thank you. thank you all for being here. thank you. miss gunter, mr. gray, when you see this exhibit, when you see this exhibit, it shatters the
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notion of rosa parks as an accidental activist. finally, that myth of an accidental activist will go by the way. the history, in her own words, will be spoken. the woman the two of you knew will be known, and part of the reckoning, i find, with what we see upstairs is this funny, feisty, incredibly savvy american. you knew her long before 1954.
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i want you to describe her, the first moment you met her. >> yes, ma'am. >> thank you, sir. >> before i answer that question, thank you the librarian for inviting me to share this occasion here. i got my wife, carol, here. some other relatives. if you just raise your hand. those who are here. and also the president of the national bar association. i just want to thank those persons who have come. i want to thank congressman lewis. he wanted me to end up filing a lawsuit so he could go to troy state, but his parents were afraid and he was a minor.
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we introduced him to dr. king and it introduced him to the movement and the rest of it was history. now, what was your question? >> back to rosa parks. back to that day that you met her, how would you describe her? >> i had met rosa parks not just december 1, 1955, but i really at first met her when i was a student at what was then alabama state college for negroes. alabama state university. i lived on the west side of town. alabama state was on the east side of town. i was a student trying to learn how to be a teacher. i had already learned a little
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something about how to be a preacher, and that was the biggest thing that black boys in montgomery, alabama, in the 1930's, 40's, and 50's could be. i found out she worked with the naacp. she also worked with edie nixon, who was a family friend of ours, who was mr. civil rights. they were very much interested in doing whatever it took so that african-americans would be able to enjoy the same rights and privileges of others. i then had to ride the buses and it was because of problems we had over buses, including a man who was killed as a result of an altercation on the bus, that i decided that in addition to being a preacher and being a teacher, i was going to be a lawyer. they tell me that lawyers help
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people. and i thought that the black people in montgomery had a real problem with buses. so i made a personal commitment when i was a teenager. i was going to finish college, go to somebody's law school, become a lawyer, but in order to do that i wasn't going to go to university of alabama, go someplace else, come back, take the bar exam, and destroy everything segregated i could find. while i was thinking about doing that, i saw ms. parks working, doing what i wanted to do, and that was my first beginning. move forward to three or four years later. i enrolled in the law school in cleveland. i finished in three years, took the bar exam just in case. a month later, i took the
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alabama bar exam. on september 7, 1954, i became licensed to practice. now, i am ready to destroy everything segregated i could find. (applause) >> shortly thereafter and one of the things that misses parks was doing, she was youth director, and one of the young ladies who was in her youth director course at the naacp was claudette. she was the 15-year-old girl who did what rosa parks did but did it nine months before without the instructions and without all of the experiences which you've learned about that misses parks had already gone through. but misses parks, when i opened
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my law office, she came in and helped me to get it open. she worked at a department store a block and a half from our office and we talked about these matters. so when claudette was arrested, that was my first civil rights case. she was interested. edie nixon was interested and fred gray was interested. however, the black community was not quite ready for the lawsuit i was ready to file. those people decided, including rosa parks, that we were going to get ready, and whenever the next opportunity presented itself, we would be ready to end up ending the problems on the buses. that opportunity came on december 1, 1955, after misses parks and i had had conferences almost daily for five days a week, telling people, if you
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decide not to give up your seat on the bus, how could you conduct yourself? we talked about that. we even talked about it on december 1, 1955. and she knew i was going out of town. when i got back, i found she had been arrested. >> hold that thought. hold that thought just for a second. i want to stop right there. so you set the stage. here she was. for a year, you said, she had been instructed by you on how to act if she had been arrested. if she decided if she was going to take a stand. misses gunther you were 18 years old.
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you did not even live in montgomery, alabama. you lived outside of montgomery. so you did not live on the base. >> we lived on the base. >> how did you come to be on that bus? >> well, after we moved to montgomery, i went to the doctor at the base and found out i was going to have a baby, and the doctor required that i do a lot of walking. every day i would walk to the city and walk back. i had a coin with me in case i needed to ride the bus, but i actually did a lot of walking. that day, i guess i was tired. i have no idea. maybe i was ready to go home but i got on the bus and i sat on a long seat behind the driver, and all of a sudden, this driver stood up, turned around, and just bellowed something out to somebody down the aisle.
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i realized it was an older woman. she was in her 40's so that was older. so when he did that, he let me have that seat, i stood up and said she can have my seat. when i did that, a fair skinned, tall man pushed his knees into mine and said "don't you dare move." and mr. gray knows that in the 1950's, women did what men said. totally different from today. (laughs) >> men were in charge of the world. anyway, that is what happened. and all of a sudden, i sat back down, and i got off the bus
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when the driver said everyone get off the bus. >> did you see her arrest? >> no, i did not. >> so here you are. yes. her daughter, jan is in the audience. exactly 64 years. i am sorry. but i think back because no one came forward to tell the story until you. no other person has admitted being there. why did it take so long for your story to come out? >> because when i got back to the base, i never went back to the city, and i did not even know anything that was going on in the city. i had no idea there was a bus boycott or this man called martin luther king. i had never heard his name, so we came home to atlanta and 35
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or more years went by of my life. growing a family. and then all of a sudden, one sunday afternoon after church, one of my sons was reading on the floor a life magazine, and he saw a bus and he said, mom, this is the funniest looking bus, and i said oh dear. i was on that bus. so immediately, one of us started calling to meet misses parks, and after the third call, elaine steele call back and said i am elaine still with the cofounder of rosa parks institute and mrs. parks will be in atlanta at the event and she would invite you to her hotel room. so we went over.
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they asked me to give my recollection of that day. >> and you gave it. she did not remember you. but she remembered what happened on the bus. >> as she remembered a tall man. when brenda davenport was one of the interviewers, she said well i am here to protect miss parks to make sure you are not lying. in a little while, misses parks said you were there. >> she said you were there. >> right. >> for those millennials out there who have a hard time thinking about a world where a tweet and a social media blast and news 24 hours, seven days a week, it was a different time in terms of news coverage.
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fred gray, vi just want you to describe it. rosa parks and what she did on december 1, no one outside of montgomery really knew about it. did they? >> knew about rosa parks or knew about mrs. gunter? >> they did not know about rosa parks because the news did not penetrate, was not put out there in the same manner. >> with respect to misses parks arrest? >> yes. it was not national -- it was not national news? >> it was national news, the montgomery bus boycott. it made the news. her arrest did not make the
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news until mr. nixon leaked the story to the press that we were going to start a boycott on monday. and the reporter for the montgomery advertiser ended up running a story and really, mr. nixon did not tell us he was going to tell it. we were trying to keep the white people from knowing it but let the black people know it, but it developed that the best thing that happened was for mr. nixon to do what he did and as a result, it makes the front page on sunday and monday that the negros were going to boycott the buses in montgomery, alabama. but when i talked to ms. parks, after i got back in town on december 1, and she retained me to represent her, i asked her to tell me about anybody who did anything on that bus that
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would help her in her case. she did not tell me any person, white nor black, had offered to help her to do anything. they were there, the officer who had police power asked her to get up. she politely told him she was not going to get up. she was not disorderly. and they would have helped her if we had had some witness on the bus, black or white, to come to misses parks rescue. she never told me and i never subpoenaed anyone to testify on her behalf because we did not know at the time. we knew white people were on the buses and i am not saying she was not there at all. i am sure there were at least more than 10 white people
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because they had all the seats taken. there were black people on the bus, but nobody thought enough of miss parks to come to misses parks rescue, so she was arrested, and the rest is history. >> tell us what was definitively the signature of what made misses parks, not just her arrest, but her trial resonate. it was a tandem act, was it not? >> no, no. misses parks had been working on civil rights for years before december 1st. >> i understand that but you made very clear to me that people had been working on the idea of a boycott for some time. the decision to boycott the night of her trial on december 5, that was the impetus, that
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was the explosion, was it not? >> the matter of staying off of the buses as a result of misses parks arrest did not originate with misses rosa parks. she was not the person who was really moving forward with it. as a matter of fact, when i met with her in her living room and talked with her, what we were concerned about than was preparing -- there were two things in my mind that i told her that we would be thinking about. the first thing, we have got to get ready for her trial on december 1, so don't worry about it. i am going to get that ready. i said, ultimately, we are going to have to file a lawsuit. i said joanne has been talking about asking people to stay off
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of the buses because we have been having this problem for a long time. i said don't you worry about that, mrs. parks. you have done your part. i am going to talk to joanne, i am going to talk to nixon and we are going to see if an addition to people's -- two year trial taking place, we will have a protest and people will stay off of the buses. i left our house and went to nixon's house and talked with him. he was willing to participate. i told him i was going to joanne robinson's house and talked with her. we talked in her living room from the evening of december 1 to the morning of december 2 and we sat and planned the various things that had to take place if we we're going to get the people to stay off the bus. one, we got to get the ministers because they had more people on sunday morning than
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anyone else and we had to get the message out. we were asking them to stay off of the bus for only one day but we wanted them to stay off of the bus until they could come back on a nonsegregated basis but we could not tell them that so we talked about the one day, but we had to be prepared that if we were successful, what are we going to do next? then we said well we need somebody to serve as a spokesman. it was joanne robinson who suggested my pastor should serve as spokesman. >> and who was that pastor? >> that was reverend martin luther king jr., who had just gotten to town about one year before. normally, nixon, mr. civil rights, and another political and business men in the senate, would have been the person to serve in that capacity, but what we were afraid of, joanne
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and i, if we used either nixon or louis, we may lose some of the other ones, so let's get somebody else, she said. i will tell you who. i said who? she said my pastor, martin luther king jr. i said i met dr. king. i do not know him like you do but that fine but i said let me give you two good positions for these other two men. let's get nixon, the treasurer, because he knows a philip randolph, who is the founder of the union, and the other man was a former coach at alabama state. he was in the political aspect. he wanted to get people registered to vote. he had a club named the citizen club. in order to get to the club,
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you had to be a registered voter. i said let's make nixon the treasurer, make rufus lewis the chairman of the transportation committee, because if it left on monday, we will need somebody. well, and i said jewel is co-owner of the largest funeral home in town. guess what? they have automobiles. we need automobiles to take people to and from work. she said when i am going to do when we get through here, fred, i am going to go over to alabama state and get some students and draw up a leaflet. i will say another black woman has been arrested.
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her trial is going to be on monday. let's stay off of the buses as a protest. that is what happened and the rest is history. neither one of us -- i could not afford -- it could not be afforded that fred was out here doing all of that. i would have gotten disbarred before i got barred. (laughs) >> they fired her and she got fired later on. there was a lot of plans that went into the bus boycott, what it was, but what inspired them was a 15-year-old girl, claudette colvin, who did what mrs. parks did nine months before, and we all said, if claudette could do that, then all of us can do whatever it takes, and we stayed off of the buses for 282 days. (applause) >> now you know the
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rest of the story. >> in fact, rosa parks was convicted. rosa parks was convicted and claudette colvin's case was the case that won against segregation. >> claudette colvin's was a -- let me take them in chronological order. we will take rosa parks case. >> senate straight. >> she was the one arrested on december 1. so my first responsibility was to see that she was adequately represented on december 5. i knew that they were going to convict her. there was no way in the world they could end up finding her not guilty, i knew that. i let them put their case on
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come across examine their witness, raise my constitutional questions, don't put on any evidence, because none of them could say that she had done that, and see what happens. and what did they do? they convicted her. so on her case, we appealed it to the circuit court and then it had to go all the way up to the alabama courts, and then ultimately to the u.s. supreme court. so that was one case. but if we had gotten her found not guilty, all that would have happened is she would have been not guilty, and the city ordinances and state statutes requiring segregation would have still been on the books, so we had to have another lawsuit. and that suit was a case of browder versus gail. now, i get an opportunity to let our people know, at this point in time, and this was a couple of days after dr. king's
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house had been bombed, we need to go ahead and file this case, and the question is, i knew in my own mind i was not going to use rosa parks as a plaintiff in that case. and i was not going to do it because if i had done that, her case was up on appeal, and what the city would have said is that this is a collateral attack on her appeal case. so let's let her case go through the system. let's get some other good plaintiffs, and i can think of no better plaintiff than claudette colvin, this young girl. but she was a minor, so her parents had to be involved, and the result was that we ended up selecting other persons, and that was the case of browder versus gail that ultimately desegregated the buses. but if mrs. parks -- if claudette had not done what she did on march 2, 1955, it is quite possible that mrs. parks
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may not have done what she did on december 1. she had not been arrested, there would have been no trial. there would have been no meeting at the baptist church. martin luther king jr. would not have been introduced to the nation at that time. and the whole history of the civil rights movement would have been different but for the 15-year-old girl, claudette colvin. while we honor mrs. parks here tonight, if mrs. parks was here, i am sure she would be glad to say that part of her inspiration, along with what she had been doing for years before, was to be able to inspire young girls like claudette to do what she did. so we also honor claudette colvin and the plaintiffs in that case as they did in
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montgomery on this past sunday when they also unveiled a statue of rosa parks and honored the persons in browder versus gail. (applause) >> it almost sounds as if, because this young woman was in rosa parks youth ministry, that she inspired a young woman who then inspired her, it was a pay it forward moment over and over and over again. here you are, 64 years later, practicing attorney. congratulations. >> thank you. (applause) >> i just want to know how your legacy, rosa parks's legacy, impacts what is
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happening in today's strong, as rosa parks has always said, the struggle continues. and so, i wonder how this continuum of your legacy informs that. >> well, i don't know about my legacy and these historians will have to decide that but i know this. i know that at least two generations of people have been born who know nothing at all about hard-core segregation. they don't know about the problems that we had, and i think, if i will have a legacy, i think if mrs. parks was here tonight, she would be happy for all this that we are doing. i think she would also want us to say thank you and all of
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that. but to look at where we are now and see the progress we have made, but even more importantly, just to see what needs to be done to solve the problem so that all of the people in this country will enjoy all of the rights and privileges that the majority enjoys and that has not ended yet. so the struggle continues. i believe that she would think and i believe there are two major problems still facing us that we need to be serious about. one, this country still has some serious racial problems. racism has not been eliminated in this country. this country has never really faced up to taking affirmative actions towards destroying racism. we have chipped at it a little
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bit but we have never really worked on it, so that is one problem that needs to be, and if i have a legacy or if mrs. parks has a legacy, i think she would want us to complete the task of doing away with racism so that everybody, regardless of their race, color, creed, sexual orientation, will be able to enjoy the same rights and privileges. (applause) >> i think there is a second point, and that is, in this country, there is too much inequality between the majority -- when i think about majority, i think about white people -- and the minority. and i think about african-americans and others. the disparity between those two are so great, and if you just
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-- if you will -- and this is nothing new. the national urban league has a report they make every year to the president, and what i am telling you about this part of it, you can find it in the annual report. >> the state of black america. >> the five areas that you manage economics by african-americans. at the lower part, and whites are at the top. if you take, for example, in unemployment, we are less than twice less than where white people are. if you take poverty, we are three times in worse shape than whites are. if you take incarceration, we are incarcerated 16 times as whites, so what i am saying to
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you is that inequality needs to end. those two things, inequality and racism, nothing new. they have been here since slavery times. but they are not going to go away unless somebody does something. if we had done nothing, if mrs. parks had done nothing, if claudette had done nothing, it would not happened. if you can take what we did in the civil rights movement, the bus boycotts and everything else, number one, you have to recognize that we still have a problem. because if you don't think we have a problem then we are not going to solve it. secondly, you have to prepare and make plans. you cannot try to execute at all, and then when you do that, you have to execute these plans. these two things need to be done and it needs to start at
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the top. it start at the white house, it should go to congress, the supreme court, the ceos and educational institutions to do away with racism and inequality. (applause) >> and in fact, chris rock, the comedian of our time, said racism is not a black person problem. it is a white person problem. mrs. gunter, i look at you, this beautiful white woman who says she was so inspired by rosa parks. you met with her. you said she changed your life.
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how did she? >> i do not think about that in the beginning, i was busy growing a family and living life, until that magazine incident. then we met with mrs. parks and before the meeting was over, mrs. parks said that i was there. and that interview was done by brenda davenport of fclc of atlanta and elaine seale. they asked me if i would tell my recollection of the day and when i told my recollection of what happened that day. trying to try to protect mrs. parks and mrs. parks said, she was there. >> you are a missionary and a
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pastor and work in the movement until this day. >> to this day. i go to schools and talk to children about rosa parks and the bus boycott and every february, all of my days are filled and i love it. i enjoy it. especially seeing children learn what really happened from my eyes. >> do you see the struggle through the eyes of mrs. parks? do you see this is your struggle now? >> i do not see it as a struggle for me at all. i have absolutely no conflict with red, yellow, black and white. i worked with all kinds of people. we are just people. and any choice sermon would be
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about peace, love, kindness, and forgiveness. >> forgiveness. thank you both. (interpreter) jane gunter, thank you, fred gray. >> i referred to this earlier. again, i want to commend this library for having this exhibit of rosa parks here. people can come from all over the country and see what is here. you have museums all over this country who need our support, and they are deserving of that support so that the story can be told and they will be educated on it. one of those organizations is located in alabama, the history
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center. it gives a history of all of the people under one roof. it also serves and gives a brief history of the civil rights movement from slavery times until the present, showing five cases of people from tuskegee alabama. we ask for your support. if you want to learn more, just let me know. that is the first thing. (applause) the next thing, all of what i have told you tonight about the movement and more is found in my autobiography, "bus
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ride to justice". there is a copy over there. our problem is that if our young people do not know what has happened and if we do not educate them fully, it will never get done. thank you very much. (applause) >> thank you. >> you have seen history in the making, haven't you? that is what we had hoped you would see and hear people who would love history and appreciate history. we will have brochures for everyone. thank you so much. the report from the national urban league is also available. (applause) sir, you should know that this exhibit is going to be online so people everywhere
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can see everything. we thank all of you for being here and being part of this discussion and now we invite you to go upstairs and see the exhibit. (applause) >> secretary of state, mike pompeo, testifies thursday before the senate forms relations committee on the department 2021 budget request. watch that live at 8:30 am eastern on c-span three, online a or listen live on the free c-span radio app. >> next on american history tv, an oral history interview with courtroom cox in the civil rights movement. he spoke about attending howard university, his involvement in the


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