tv Marcia Chatelain Franchise CSPAN October 2, 2021 4:11pm-4:53pm EDT
about places that we chicagoans are so close to. it is just amazing to read about these fantastical events that happened a couple hours drive from here. >> i would like to say before we close, please it is fun and frolic my career is been such a joy our friendship and following your career to the first woman editor in chicago business. i am so proud to know you, thank you. >> thank you. [appla. now here's more from chicago. >> hello and welcome to the 36th
annual near south planning board printers row lit best. please help me giving a special thank you to our sponsors. [applause] before we begin we ask that you silence your cell phone and turn off camera flashes if you're taking photos. at the end of the presentation we will be taking questions. there is a mic here because c-span is recording. so please come to the mic so it will be heard on the recording and we will remind you of that. and let's begin. she's content please welcome marcia chatelain she is the author of franchise the golden arches and black america. she is in conversation with elizabeth taylor. thank you ladies. [applause] >> thank you. thank you all for coming today.
can you hear me? it is such a pleasure it is a beautiful day outside. it is going to be a much interesting to be in this room as we really dig into this really important part of history. i'm thrilled to be here, professor of history at georgetown university that is the official bio. i just want to say pulitzer prize winner 2021 history. [applause] at. [cheering] and i get a chill. so the citation read this way. one reason i'm going to read it out loud and there is a big luncheon or anything for the book because of covid. i don't know if you have had a stranger read this to you, ever. so i am going to do it.
this amazing book, franchise the golden arches and black america. the citation read this way from nuance account of the complicated role of the fast food industry plays in african-american communities race in capitalism that masterfully illustrates how the fight for civil rights has been intertwined with black businesses. so, it is a smart and capacious book and a work of history that goes way beyond what you know about the golden arches and entrepreneurial spirit. in the calorie count of the happy meal, it digs into this really important story of how
this purveyor of food actually shaped political culture. shape to the economy and really shape so many particularly cities around the country. it is really important history it is a lens i don't think people have thought about quite the way you have. i'm really thrilled to be here. so, mcdonald's is embedded into the american subconscious. i'm sure it is a stone's from here there is one. but it is a paradox. it is simultaneously history of opportunity it's also an opportunity for exploitation. it is a national story but it
is also chicago's story pray to let's begin in chicago. marcia, your first book with southside girls growing up in the great migration. here we are, in chicago where you grew up so what was your first mcdonald's experience? >> i just want to thank you to everyone for joining us. thank you so much for this invitation to talk about my book. i got up this morning and took a walk around downtown. it was so emotional having grown up here and having so many afterschool johnson this neighborhood. i can count the number of places i got a paycheck around the city. i want to return to that. because it mcdonald's for me was at the center i think of my budding social life as a young adult. we ate mcdonald's a lot as a kid. in the 80s that is what you did.
there is no social shaming about what your kids eat mcdonald's. that is what we did all the time. but as i get older, mcdonald's became the site of our socialize. there's a number of people i went to high school with in people who are of the same age. that was her social media. we did not have cell phones but we could all meet at a mcdonald's. and many ways i sought is an ever present part of my social world. and also the place reckitt articulate my independence. growing up in chicago with mcdonald's, mcdonald's had two distinct places. one in its underwriting of so much of the black cultural life of chicago which is how i start thinking about my book. when you think about the resume was of the broadcast
know your heritage. all of these things are underwritten by black mcdonald's operators. growing up in the 80s and early 90s a lot of first corporate job opportunities for students of color, mcdonald's was up with abbott labs and mcdonald's lumen entry for a lot of black college students. so in many ways i think being in chicago mcdonald's means a little bit of a different thing in other cities. so we know mcdonald's was launched by ray croc. and then the franchise started. it's the story of the franchise industry. and capitalism. so how did that work for mcdonald's? >> so mcdonald's grows out of southern california.
one of the things we talk about in the book is when we think about when people talk and write about mcdonald's they frame it as a story of innovation. getting so many people food so quickly. for the food industry in the 1940s and 50s. but for my purposes i like to think about in terms of what does it say about america's racial history? what does it say about business to grow up around the highway system which is terror and anxiety for so many black travelers. what we think about the suburbanization of fast food in the communities have all means of excluding african-americans. so when we get to the moment were franchise in this growth opportunity for business it is really exciting. it is a moment in which you don't have to have a lot of business experience. our own a family business to make big like i own my house
but bank of america really owns my house. you can be really successful about an education which is really one of the promises of american industry. people are just in love with franchising. someone has done all of the hard work but the star is checked assume all the risk and liability and you have to do an incredible amount of work to make it work. >> thinking about chicago, can you talk about the first black franchise owner? >> yes mcdonald's was founded in 46? the original mcdonald's in san bernardino was from the 40 spirit moves to chicago and 55, ray croc he is incredibly ambitious.
he says we can have a mcdonald's in every bedroom community. but african-americans don't really get an entry point into franchising until 68. it's immediately after king's assassination. it is very easy to not know or misunderstand king in his moment was not the good guy of history. so after his assassination, it is a work over the past three decades that martin luther king is a hero. but in 1968 after the uprising from reaction to his death. after this consternation about the civil rights movement was incredible encouragement for black owned business under the umbrella of black capitalism. herman petty was the first one to franchise and mcdonald's.
he is in that moment where there is a federal pressure to open a business opportunities for african-americans. mcdonald's is involved in it knowing that there will be a number of right franchise owners who do not want to do business in black communities anymore. and mcdonald's start recruiting black donors to serve black communities but is very profitable for number of reasons. >> very profitable for some of them, right? >> let's a very good point you make pretty prospective franchising. what they soon discover it's called black stores at the time. that black stores yield very good profits because they are often located committees where this is not a lot of competing businesses. market research shows african-american consumers go
to mcdonald's more often than their white counterparts. but, the franchisor is not visibly see all the prophets. early on mcdonald's tried to intervene to create a baseline program so black franchise owners can keep their stores. my 75 -- 76 there is a real sense this is something that can work. that if you put black franchise owners in black communities, you not only take advantage of the changing landscape of inner-city business, but you have a really loyal customer base because people feel they are patronizing a black owned business. it's incredibly important for the politics at the time. but then it becomes a trade-off between two may want mcdonald's or a community center? can you explain how that was all interwoven together? the power structure.
>> so one of the things that happens as mcdonald's is becoming more present in the cities like chicago, and cleveland, in los angeles, portland oregon, that community groups are not trying to decide if they like mcdonald's or not. i think this was something i really wanted to talk about in the book, and world in which mcdonald's was on a presupposition. i do this often is anyone in this audience never been to mcdonald's or doesn't know what it is? only twice this has happened. two people in the dozens of events i've had her on this but eaten at a mcdonald's. they were both raised by vegan nutritionist. [laughter] they had not eaten and mcdonald's but everyone knew what was there is a period of time this is not a fixture in every community. so as mcdonald's is growing in terms of its presence in black communities, sharing to decide
the going to contribute to the health and wellness of the people around it. there's all these different protest saying if mcdonald's is going to be here, it has to be black franchise. if mcdonald's is going to be here they have to donate to the free breakfast program donate by the black panther party. mcdonald's is going to be her that the palpate for park. this early moment before corporate social responsibility had its playbook. mcdonald's is trying to decide if they should do these things are not. some of these actions are so mind blowing from the perspective of 2021 is a whole office of people telling you how to not sound racist or not say something. and it 78 -- 79 even up to the 80s, everything is still on the table. think that's the part of the history i find most fascinating. how do we set the standard and template for how corporations
interact with communities. >> that is so interesting. in the book you argue the government really supports the expansion of mcdonald's by highways or drivers can find them easily and other ways how has society been complicit in this expansion of mcdonald's? >> one of the things we see during this time period, it felt very strange in 2020 to hear some of the rhetoric from 68 being recycled. one of the reasons why they're so much unrest in the 1960s, it's not because people want more businesses necessarily they want the fundamental things you need for good quality of life.
their equal housing, good schools for your children, access to healthcare, jobs that pay more than starvation wages. the issues are very clear. it seems that the federal government says were not going to really deliver on the promises of civil rights and poverty. but people have their own business may be the be appeased by this but this is my mug cynical grumpy self. there's something about that i find so appalling but i understand why it's in 1968. there has been a large-scale failure of the federal government to live up to any of the promises of the legislative and >> reforms that have happened relative to black rights. until people are saying okay were not going to be protected in these ways, it may be we have a business. maybe we become self-sustaining. but small businesses particularly but very few businesses have the power and we have yet to have one, to
undo civil rights abuses. no company can innovate respecting some its right to vote or ending police brutality. and so we know that during this period of time, people are thinking that maybe it is true. in 2020 we have no excuse for thinking that the appropriate response of the george floyd is to buy it from black businesses, none of it makes sense but this is what's costley presented as a potential solution to the problem. >> it is a that continues to this day. so anyway what you are talking about is so perfectly express on the cover of your book. because it is in paperback, can you talk about the cover of the book? it captures a moment that's a really important moments. >> think i'm glad you asked. i love this picture so much. it is a picture of a gentleman
is giving the oath of voting to a woman in the parking lot of mcdonald's. this is from the neighborhood in portland. one of the things i really appreciated in the research process was that i was able to write about black history in the pacific northwest. she is getting her right to vote at a mcdonald's and hence the title franchise you see what my editor did there she came up with the title i was not that creative. [laughter] the point is, what does that mean for mcdonald's to be the space in which black rights are being pursued and realized? this is so depressing. i think it's a cautionary tale to all of us to think this is where this needs to happen. i think what i am most concerned with is saying that we actually do have the tools
to address racial injustice. but if we keep on suggesting market-based solutions or market activity is going to do this, that we are going to continue to see the cycles of history. >> own to quickly ask about advertising. advertising for mcdonald's was so expansive one of the biggest campaigns ever, you talk about the company? >> communications based in chicago is so important for this moment. what's happening in terms of the marketplace is that 1968 is the culmination in many ways of many years of a racial unrest. think the death of king at the level tour the country is and other political issues.
and so corporations are feeling indicted and thinking how are we going to reach out? how are we going to be more inclusive? what they do is they start investing in black advertising agencies and black creative marketing and black market research companies. corelle corporation takes mcdonald's on and creates a series of ads that are supposed to speak to the black consumer. there's an anecdote about they tried to sell african-american consumers that you deserve a break today because it doesn't work what break in 1968 america look around. all of this is to say this is something i came to really appreciate during the research of this book. there are not a lot of african-americans on television during this time. it is a very big deal. even when i was a kid growing up in the 80s it was a really big deal to see these
commercials. two seat not only actors and actresses and singers, to see black creative talents have a place to start. because producing commercials, being the backup singers, being a dancer in a commercial , this was the platform before the internet. if you spend as much time on youtube's idea, watching old mcdonald's commercials there are some really big stars to get started in these commercials. and so i wanted to make sure this book, although this a lot of policy history and a lot of civil rights history acknowledges that creative works that was able to shift some of the representation into the 80s and 90s. >> had had such power. can you talk a little bit about archival work? finding that photo for instance.
this is not a corporate history of mcdonald's. they did not open up their archives. >> no they didn't, they did not. i think that's a blessing for us be creative and go around. and find really interesting stuff. talk about that process, what are your great fines question recorded you go? >> i went everywhere. i can't believe i did this, i really can't. when i think about the amount of times i got on airplanes in my recent events, got on an airplane stayed for days at a library to get three pieces of paper and the excitement. this is the life of a historian. i tell my students when you're on twitter under something that's gone viral and there's a joke you spent maybe 40 minutes trying to find its origin to fill really proud of yourself, that is my job that's my whole professional life. [laughter] so mcdonald's has its own archives is not (and it's a corporation. how do i tell a story about
mcdonald's? this is really about shifting the lens. floyd speak about black america succeed mcdonald's is everywhere. my look at the papers of people like julian bond, mcdonald's is everywhere. when look at the archives of the southern christian leadership conference of the naacp mcdonald's is everywhere, right? so i think we often think about certain relationships of power. people would say was there an archive of all of the black franchise owners of the early class? i said no. but if i think critically of the places they donated money to bring the community groups and interacted with them, i could've written 1010 books about mcdonald's and black america. i think it's a cautionary tale about who we think are important makers of history. this is why i'm so excited about the possibility of a graduate student read this book thinking this is the worst book i ever read.
i'm going to go back to the same archives and i'm going to write a better version of this. these things are possible but it is political. there have to be programs we study african-american history. there have to be faculty led by hsu to do that. this is not magic it's about changing who and what we think about in the places that train scholars to do that kind of work. >> it's always interesting how you are a journalist for a while, and that is how i met you, summer intern. >> at your phd was it american civilization which i actually
think is a more expansive way to look at history. makes me think that's one of the part about archives. >> being an inter- tradition every piece makes you think about the different places where knowledge can be produced. it isn't just the papers that are put in a newspaper archive or a collection in a historical society. something see on youtuber on television. it's the conversations of people have that you have access too. one of the things i want to say being back home and really being reflective about this trajectory, a lot that's possible inside the book and in my career was because i grew up in a moment of which there were opportunity programs. this period of time i am a generation from 68.
but i benefited from the minority scholarship programs this idea that maybe we should try to change things a little bit. i think the biggest difference between me and my students as they are actually living in a world with fewer of those routes to opportunity. this is what i find most irritating about the cycles of history. that in some ways i can chart the programs somewhere federally funded while more public private partnerships. i can chart the programs that got me too this point. when i think about the number of resources my students might have with technology, those same programs and same possibilities are not there. i think this is something that be so careful about and suggesting there's ever a moment where the work is done or always said with unfinished business and the question is how do we return to a place where we want to expand opportunity so aggressively.
>> when certain ways you grapple with this, because in many ways your book is quite an indictment of capitalism. capitalism just cannot be that socially responsible. i think that's how i read your book. >> he read it correctly. [laughter] but he wanted to do it in a way that was sensitive and cannot be so arrogant to suggest i am so much smarter than the entire mechanism of capitalism that makes me want things. or makes me excited with the new iphone comes out. i don't think that's the entire point. it is to say if we are going to be serious about the inequalities that are born out of the racism then we cannot constrain choices to the point where a new mcdonald's becomes
the new presence and the lives of people and then have an expectation that people will be well fed, healthy, have time for their families, have living wages and access to healthcare. these things are not compatible. but i think when it comes to securing black rights, this is the place we turn too. this idea that the marketplace can put something together to quell the real deep inequalities people are constantly reacting to and having to make choices from. >> it seems that people are eager to condemn the that eat foods of mcdonald's and all the bad food. and the dangers. but less eager to contend with the social implications of the business itself. >> absolutely.
it is so easy to food choices for this is along practice especially throughout the 20th century we have ideas of diets, good food and bad food. i want people to live healthy lives. but i never want us to suggest what a person is consuming is more important than the conditions that create the set of choices. i think for health practitioners for public policy people there is a default position that african-american choices should be the first place to go. as if all of those choices are equally constructed among all people. >> right. one of the blocks to a new system emerging, franchises that would do vegan food.
>> is a vegan festival going on right now. people have always embraced different food movements. that's neither here nor there. i just do not want the impossible burger to determine whether the committee has healthcare. mcdonald's commits all the burgers they want, they can be fine. but i want them to operate in a civil and social context where their workers don't make poverty wages. >> let's talk about the franchise about the owner. let's talk about the disenfranchised people who work there. which are in your book. >> when i looked at your footnotes that those really great archival fines. >> there is this a moment
where people are thinking okay, fast food jobs are first jobs. there an entry point into the marketplace. and then people will have the other tools necessary for social mobility. but we will put no money into those tools but will not create any regulatory structure on the quality of those jobs. and when the nation is in financial crisis there will not be an extension of benefits in these jobs and people are wondering why can't you advance them from the jobs? when mcdonald's really start to get to black communities things that are interesting. one is a lot of the black franchise owners are praised for working at mcdonald's the early mcdonald's brothers fired all the young women who work at their restaurants because they said they flirted because sexism is evergreen. then slowly but surely you have young black women working at mcdonald's.
some being able to become managers in seeing this as a great opportunity. mcdonald's sells itself to black consumers by suggesting the person working the counter would one day become a franchise owner. this a dream that if you just stay in long enough to know how much capitol you need to have to franchise a mcdonald's? mark zuckerberg in an article a few days ago so you can either have a mcdonald's franchise or i can send you to harvard. and it wasn't that a great story? [laughter] just to wrap our heads around it but that myths of the possibility in the franchise system is still so powerful. all of this is to say the economy shifted rapidly so these jobs were not possible in terms of creating stable working families. the fight for 15 has effectively raise that
consciousness among a lot of people. but still the $15 an hour wage is not enough. i used to work in oklahoma city attacked and the university of oklahoma. i remember when companies would come in, people would say these are great jobs we talked up a lot because oklahoma city is not expensive. as if this is the kind of barometer for economic growth. this is how the fast food practices really mushroomed. low wages, inconsistent scheduling, sexual harassment, no paid sick leave, workers are expendable. this is the moment we are contending with it. >> we are running short on time. for any questions please get them, please come up to the microphone if you have a question. i have one last question retaining my right for the last question.
hi. >> actually i was going over in my mind what question to ask what. >> hi daniel how are you? i thought that was you. >> i'm glad you got to the last point i was going to come to that i feel wages and i grew up in the south mcdonald's was my first job, my brother's first job, my nephew's first job. when they moved to los angeles i'm supporting a family with a job from mcdonald's. the fight for 15 would've been a great thing to have done in 2011. that now is like an incredible insult almost all around the country. i wonder if you have seen any connection between that sort of mutation of what mcdonald's was in the civil rights movement? on the powell memo and basic strategy of corporate america
to push out everything that happened with the civil rights movement. which was in concert by the u.s. government. i don't want to say synergy, or to complement right there. >> one and things i found talk about archives that really blew my mind was when i was looking at mcdonald's in the 60s, i found a number of instances in which groups like the student on violence and naacp were involved in protests against segregation at mcdonald's. why is that not within the frame of our history of segregation? woolworth, rexall, would see all this iconic images and they are very much codified which these were where it happened. the pine bluff, arkansas movement of 62 -- 63, people
are beaten by the police trying to do a protest of a segregated mcdonald's. mcdonald's was part of the north carolina citizens and durham and memphis. all of these places people are acting against a mcdonald's. it is not within the frame. sometimes i wonder, because they'd grafted themselves onto the narrative of after king's death we did the socially responsible thing by recruiting black franchise owners they work themselves out of that history and kept on doing these things. they were very early supporter of the martin luther king jr. holiday. i think that rights them out of that. while there's a lot of criticism of mcdonald's practices through labor practices, today there's a lot of stuff about the environment in the 80s and 90s, i find
that so strange. [inaudible] >> any other questions i know i mentioned a lot of these creature comforts, universal healthcare necessary for society kind of like you said the indictment. why don't we see a lot of small business owners really pushing for things like healthcare those issues. one of your see some is franchise owners as someone who has a business and whatnot the hardest thing to try to purchase to understand and work with. i never understood why there's no idea of what the big push
in terms of that. that is such an excellent point to issues that come up there very much beholden to the corporate structure with the nation's board if you work for mcdonald's who work for mcdonald's corporate rework for the franchise owner. the back-and-forth on the forth on the issue about challenges of sexual harassment, wage theft and taking care of workers. i think the narrative is small business america has been that regulation will kill your business. they are employees are people to be distrustful of and invested in all at the same time. and so we could create an incredible movement if we
really are the fuel of america. every politician left and right can make this claim. these are the things we can demand from the public in order to have small businesses. this is why always a danger, danger, talk about black owned business they don't employ anyone. he'll never have rebuild or harlem if they have the floor, perhaps this if you really want black economic empowerment this requires universal healthcare, freed college free childcare. can employ one or two people that can maybe expand. once we suggest that public good undermines business, we lose that possibility.
>> i know we have to go i have one quick question. people should rush out and buy this book. if we could just only give you a taste of it. you have a five month old baby at home. so you think you'll be able to go to mcdonald's for what are you going want to do there? >> is a thing this is what i have learned in my many months of parenting. i cannot determine what my child eats after a certain point i want him to be an autonomous person in the world. this is what i do know. at the very least i will try my hardest to raise a very sensitive child who imagines his choices make a difference. whether it's what he eats or how he treats others. there will be a lot of real talk about mcdonald's. there'll also be real talk about every choice we have is
complicated. and regardless of the choices he makes he still my baby boy. i adopted a cheer i won the pulitzer prize in that order. i just not about me necessarily but a black woman in her 40s could be recognized with the pulitzer prize. every program is able to do this is really meaningful. it is not necessarily mean the work is over. you've done so much goo of the n chicago continues. >> today's