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tv   Lectures in History African American History and Museums  CSPAN  June 20, 2022 2:41pm-3:37pm EDT

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everybody who visits here shares. just like the thousands who come here each year, i was impressed by the majesty of the great state rooms on the first floor and was proud of the stream of history that ran through each of them. what the passerby doesn't always realize is that there are two sides to the white house. the official side that remains in the public eye and the private side, that the public rarely sees. the living quarters for the president and his family. this is our living room. actually, it's the west end of the long haul. it's the nerve center and crossroad of all our family activities. an intimate place and yet busy,
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and it belongs to all of the family -- >> learn more about first ladies online at slash history. african-american museu m.>> good afternoon, welcome to the how and why, the making of the international african american museum. i'm carrie taylor, an associate professor of history at the citadel. mayor joseph riley is co-teacher for the semesters exciting course. mayor riley will introduce our special guest for this weekend, but first i wanted to briefly explain today's format. mayor riley and secretary lonnie bunch will engage in a fireside chat style conversation, after which will open it up for questions. we ask that you put your questions in the chat function, and all relay those to secretary bunch. with that, i'll turn it over to
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my colleague, mayor joseph riley. >> thank you very much, professor taylor, doctor bunch. ladies and gentlemen, is a huge honor for me to introduce to you a great american, lonnie bunch, the second -- in the founding director of the national african american museum of history and culture. as professor taylor just said, what the semesters classes called why and how of making of the african american museum. there's been no one more supporter behind our efforts then lonnie bunch. 2005, secretary bunch was the director of the chicago history museum, one of the great history museums and our country. its collection values more than $22 million. reveres later, 500 million --
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today more than 7 million people have visited that extraordinary museum. while the national museum was in its planning stages, i would call on lonnie every time i was in washington. i was looking for data and encouragement. as busy as he was, he was always so gracious and willing to meet with me as if there was nothing more important to do. i remember distinctly eating lonnie -- and told him that we had acquired -- mr. secretary, describe your feelings about the importance of a national african american museum being located in. in many ways, i am so honored to be with you because of my profound respect for the mayor
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and for what you're doing. in some ways, museums always create manufactured reality. at jetsons wharf, you have sacred ground, secret space. the opportunity to tell important stories in a space where they actually happen is unbelievably powerful. i've always felt that if there's anything i can do to be supportive to help make your dream of -- making that dream real on that wharf, i'm in awe of your colleagues that have worked so hard to create a museum to not just understand charleston and slavery, but to understand it's all. >> thank you very much, lonnie, and i've quoted you so many times. the fact that seldom do you have the opportunity to create
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a museum on a site so instrumental to the history. a bunch of books are filled with great stories and -- one of the favorites is describing lonnie's meeting with prince -- who is in his 90s at the time. former rice plantation in georgetown, south carolina. mr. jenkins gave lonnie, and all of us, excellent advice about snakes. also, about the study of history. [inaudible] and humble man, profoundly sad about history, well wanting [inaudible] the snakes. >> in some ways, this is an example of sacred place. basically, i went up to the old
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race plantation, on the walk a mock neck above georgetown, and as i walked down the slave street, they were four or five cabins still standing. he still -- he lived in one of those cabins with his enslaved grandma. it's the holy grail for historians, someone could tell you exactly what it was like. he was amazing. he would take me to one side of the tap into talk about how he was enslaved -- to keep the grass without fermon. he took me to another side to talk about the role of children watching the chimneys for the fire. he took me to the back where he talked about the crops that his grandmother grew to supplement but they were given. then we went to the fore side, and he didn't come, he said -- i said why don't you want to come over here and talk to me? he said, nothing but rattlesnakes over there. being a kid born in north new jersey, rattles laced was not meant anything but i knew
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anything about. after i stopped running, i said to him, you know, why didn't you warn me? he said, people used to remember, now they forget. i'm not sure what a historian does for sure, but if your job is to remember, then we need to remember not just what they want to remember but what they need to remember. and that notion shaped me for my entire career. besides being terrified of rattlesnakes, the notion of helping people remember what they need to, in other words, using history as a way to educate, to challenge, to prod and provide understanding, context and maybe some healing reconciliation. all of that came from a person i only met one time, when i went back to the site, he had already passed and so, the reality is, the kind of wisdom that he gave me has been reflected in everything i have
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done since that moment. >> i took that from your book, lonnie, to heart. and we will take it to heart in the pc am that we are creating. you stay in the book that the national museum has four pillars, and should have four pillars. this is to support the efforts of the museum, not monetary efforts but for historians. they are all fabulous. one is a paraphrase -- , mr. jenkins, one is that the museum should be a place for reading and memory, to the museum should illustrate stories and narratives -- three, cited in the global context in full collaboration. i'm interested in all of those, but i feel that our museum has
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a special duty to have its citizens be deeply moved by the stories of african american history that our country never learned. so doctor bunch, give us your thoughts about this responsibility of our museum and how we best can go about it? >> in many ways, one of the great challenges is, first of all, to make sure that those stories, those histories are remembered and well told. the challenge is really to help people understand that those histories shape as all. these are not stories about african americans for african americans, but rather in some ways, this is one of the quintessential american stories, to understand our notions of spirituality, resiliency, optimism, we are better to look than within this community? the challenge is to make sure that a good museum is like a
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two sided coin. one side gives you the really deep understanding of a history, agriculture. but the other side, it wants to take that culture and use it as a lens to understand what it means to be american. in essence, the best museums of history help us recognize that the stories that we tell, regardless of what the community is, our stories that shape us and inform us and make us better as a nation. i think part of what is so powerful about what you are doing is, you are eliminating the dark corners of the american experience. in many ways, the discussion around slavery, slave trade, and really the origin of america's contested. some people don't want to have these conversations. we -- i would argue that you can't understand who we are as americans without understanding all the history. you can't understand how our politics, how our foreign
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policy, our culture was shaped by slavery and the struggles over slavery. in many ways, the work that you are doing is really valuable because it really allows us to understand something that often we did not pay attention to. the other piece that i think is so important is that part of what we're trying to do is make sure people understand how this has been shaped by an international context. i think, in many ways, americans, we are, in some cases, very isolationist. this is until we had to get passports for canada or mexico, only 13% of us had a passport. the notion of helping americans understand that they have always been shaped by international issues, and that to this day, we shape the world by our own culture. i think that is important contribution as well. thank, you doctor bunch.
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you write so beautifully and you are a great storyteller. especially member bowl to me, are the stories of the enslaved woman from alabama -- plantation who -- fed and left her children before a day in the cotton field in the hot sun. and then, refused to let laborers strip her of her hope and humanity. or, the story of your grandmother, in the the honorable -- bunch who took in the laundry of other families, scrubbed food -- so that her children and grandchildren would not have to work. there are so many stories, and we have just been talking -- there so much to learn, and so much to be enhanced and strengthened by.
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so, lonnie, the thank you so much for being a great storyteller. thank you for the most fabulous museum director in the world, and secretary of the smithsonian. thank you for being here today, and i will now ask professor kerry taylor to open up the chat room and we will have questions for doctor bunch. >> may i make one comment before you go to questions? >> i'm sorry. >> one of the things that is really important that i have discovered throughout my career, and i know your working on it in the museum, is the important of women's stories. often, in history, women's stories get second shift. and, the notion of leadership that women play in organizations, in movements, the notion that women carry a burden of struggling for
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fairness and freedom, at the same time they are struggling to reimpose families. i think that is really unbelievably powerful. and i take great solace from the role women have played and recognize that i am standing on a lot of their shoulders. i think it's important to make sure people recognize that often, history is told through the lens of a male perspective. i think that misses so much of what is essential. we need to understand that about our past. >> that is excellent. of course, here in -- a dear friend of mine -- , who we honor in our museum and who -- she, like rosa parks, she wasn't very big. but oh my lord, the power of that bright courageous woman. thank you very much. we will open up the chat room,
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and professor taylor will -- >> that's right, as a reminder, please post questions in the chat, and i will relay those to the secretary and to the mayor. maybe, as a point of privilege, i was wondering, secretary, if you might comment on the museum's mission against -- and i'm talking about the d.c. museum -- against the backdrop of this dynamic period of political change in which it opened. particularly, i'm thinking about this phase, but we might refer to as the second phase of black lives matter protests triggered by the killing of george floyd. has that -- you know, what impact did that have on the museum? on the mission?
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and our thinking around the museum? >> well, i think it's had an impact on the museum in the smithsonian at large. for example, i think that what has been really important to meet its to recognize that museums often forget, part of their job is to collect today for tomorrow. to make sure that we put in place, but i call, a rapid response team. i first sent them out to for us in years ago, to minneapolis after the murder of george floyd, when black lives matter in washington d.c. was having those confrontations, we were there to collect a lot of the material. i also sent a rapid response team to collect january 6th. for me, what is important is that i realize that in many times in my career, whether it was at the smithsonian or other places, i want to tell certain stories in the collections weren't there. i thought it was really important, and i started years
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ago when i was the associate director at the smithsonian, for bringing the curator together quarterly and say, what should we know today? what should we collect today? and somebody might needs to know this 20 or 30 years later. that is really important to me. i think it's also essential, i believe -- at times of crisis, cultural institutions have to contribute mightily to making a country matter. make the country heal and to understand. i think that, a place like the smithsonian, it's only about yesterday. if that is true, it fails. if it uses yesterday to help us understand today -- to understand and contextualize the challenges of black lives matter in january 6th, at a time when the public needs to find a trusted source, museums tend to be that trusted source.
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but i want to do is never abuse the relationship, and the trust people have at the smithsonian. i want to use that to educate and to challenge and to help us find reconciliation healing. i think it would be very easy for institutions to say, that's not my issue. but i think that, in a crisis, if you're not contributing, if you're not fighting the good fight, if you are a place of history and you don't use the history to help understand today, than what you're doing is making history nostalgic, rather than a valuable tool. >> terrific. we have a question from the professor tiffany silverman. who asked, if you might address the challenges around honoring the past as we become equitable to other perspectives.
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i think, specifically, she's thinking about monuments. symbols of the past. >> i think one of the things we know as historians is the evolution of history, right? the sweep and changing interpretations. i believe very strongly that one should never erase history. one should proven that history from time to time. there ought to be opportunities to do two things. to help people understand what's monuments really mean, whether they're confederate monuments or whatever. but they really mean and what they really symbolize, when they are built and what they tell us. not just about the historic moment they're celebrating but the moment when they are created. like so many confederate monuments were created either in the era of jim crow segregation or later, during the civil rights movement, as a way to send a different message
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with the changes the country was undergoing. i think it's important how people understand. i think, in some ways, if i could do one thing as a historian, wish we could find ways to help the public embrace ambiguity. in some, ways we tend to look at things, we americans, it's like, anything we tend to look for simple answers to complex questions. but history teaches us nuance, complexity. it teaches us that there are amazing things that happened when you have those debates around the shades of gray. and so, in a way, i think that, if history could really help people understand evolution and change and subtlety, but a major contribution it would make to the country. >> i'm going to paraphrase a question from, or, i guess, a request here from our excellent student, melanie delgado.
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who asks if you could comment on the changing political dynamics from president bush through president trump. and i think she's asking, specifically, if you could address some of that material you deal with in the book. >> i think that, well it's crucially important for my success at the smithsonian, i think for any leader of a cultural institution, you have to be political. that doesn't mean you have to have a specific political point of view, but you have to recognize, as the mayor knows, they have to build allies. they've got to work with people who have politics that are very different from yours. so, for example, when i came back from chicago to become the head of the african american museum, i knew i had to create
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a bipartisan sense. but i also knew, that candidly, and i talked to some members office and they'd say, see this blackface, democrat. but i also learned, however, in chicago, that i got a lot of support from republicans from the north side, democrats from the south side. so, i use that. i had those folks from other politics take me around. so, there, four people could see that i could handle things from a beast best nonpartisan that i could. it didn't hurt that a friend of mine became senator and then president, that didn't hurt. but the reality is that what i realize is, if i couldn't get every president to care about the museum, i can get the support i needed on the hill and i thought it was a missed opportunity because i felt the museum's job was to educate everyone. george w. bush was a big
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supporter. in fact, i will always celebrate him, because there were many people who felt this museum wasn't where they have the national mall. should go someplace other than the national mall. he stood up and said, well, of course it needs to be on the mall. i quote him every time. with president obama, it was an interesting challenge because, initially, even that we are close friends, the notion was you don't want to be seen as simply the black president. , so the notion was how to provide support. and if you, notice during his second term, he became much more visible and vocally supportive and become one of the great supporters of the museum. with president, trump it was important for me to be able to help expand the notions of white african american culture was, its impact on broader society. it wasn't always easy, but it gave me something to do. >> cheryl hard and love is reflecting on the impact of
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walking through the doors of no return in the slave castles in west africa. she was hoping to get your thoughts on how it is we connect the african and the american stories in both the museum and washington and, here in charleston. >> one of the things is really to tell the truth. that these things are connected, completely connected. that it was international considerations that led to the creation of the united states, what became the united states. but the slave trade is part, really, it's the first global business. and so, really, helping people understand that is powerful. i also think it's important to realize that we are so connected today, internationally, that it would make sense to recognize how connected we were in the past. i've been struck by something that happened to me.
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i spent a lot of time trying to find relics or pieces of a slave ship, i went around the world, i negotiated with the castro's, which i was not successful in, tells you my limited ability to be a diplomat. but i looked around, i had to bring together scholars from the uk, from south africa, brazil. we began to map the ocean floor, trying to find these relics. because, for years, every summer i taught in south africa during the 90s. some of these folks are now museum people and they call me and, say we might have a ship that sank off the coast of cape town. we think it might be a slave ship, can you look at that. we brought our expertise, we look to the ship, turns out it was a ship that had left liz bin in 1794. we're around cable stored to pick up 500 people from a tribe in mozambique, on the way back to the new world it sank. so, i felt an obligation to go
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talk to the mccullough people. i went to mozambique and the chief of the people said i have a gift for, you gave me a vessel. a bull that was wrapped in shells, when i opened it was full of dirt. i'm trying to figure, out what are you saying? tommy he said to me something that was really powerful, i made the connection. he said, i would like you, my ancestors would like, you to take this soil, take it to the site of the, rex sprinkle it over the side of the wreck, so for the first time since 1790, for my people can sleep in their own way. i'm, crying i'm so moved by it. and, then a woman comes up, probably in her 20s, and she says to me, my ancestor was on that ship and every day we say his name. so, it made me realize that this was not about yesterday, was about today it was about
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tomorrow. that help transform how i thought about things, but it made me realize how fortunate i am to get to explore the passed through the lens of museums. >> our esteemed alumni, norman seabrook, as a personal question for you, secretary bunch. mr. seabrook was living in washington, d.c. in the 1970s and 80s and he was curious about your experience of traveling, transferring, from howard to american university. wanted your comments on that. >> [laughs] okay, all right. as the mayor, knows i always tell the truth. i fell in love with a girl at american university, i thought, oh, what's love, all transfer, we'll live our lives together. we dated for a year and she dumped me. so, you know, what can i tell you?
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the joy of being 19. >> that's great. my colleague son, edward, thank you for sharing your thoughts on -- it like you to discuss history from the point of contacts in modern times and the importance of that. says, oftentimes, we have requests for fact that a historical figure and the context of those facts may not be desired. >> i think that one of the great challenges and being a historian, somebody who cares about history, it's to realize that context is everything. without context, there's not understanding. i think the public, sometimes, thinks that history is a simple, fact a simple date. but the reality is, it's the contact around that, fact around that, the light gives
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meaning. the zeke's opportunity for differences an opinion as to what that particular moment met. but i really think it's crucially important. when i built the african american museum, i thought i had to do two things. one, was i had to make sure that everything we did was within the framework of helping people understand the broader context. but the second challenge was to recognize that context alone, sometimes, leads historians and museums to really just be in search of a great narrative. i thought it was important to humanize this. reduce history to human scale. both by contextualizing, but as you go through the, museum is probably more quotations than any other museum should have. you'll see many stories, such as the story of joseph tremble. we all know a lot about african americans who gain their freedom, at a freedom paper.
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the serve joseph tram was someone who gain that paper when he gained his freedom in the 1850s, but he knew that paper was the key to his future and his family's future and he was terrified, that if he carried it with him all the time, it might get destroyed by perspiration or he might lose it. so, he wasn't very good with his hands but he made what he called a handmade tin wallet. this ugly piece of ten. he put the freedom paper in that tin and he carried it with him every day for protection. then, every night, he would come home, according to the family, and he would take at the paper and he would talk about the fragility of freedom. the importance of freedom, the rarity of freedom. the family kept that for five generations and gave it to us. for me, that's what i mean by humanizing. we know people have freedom. but to see it through the lens of that particular individual was really, very powerful. i think, it created more
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meaning for so many people. that's what i mean about finding the right tension between contextualizing and reducing it to human scale. >> our student, tyler mitchell, has recently seen the netflix documentary highlighting the african american museum. he knows the role of quincy jones in that film, among many, many other celebrities who have been a part of the museum's creation. he was curious as to what it was like working with all these high powered, high profile folks. each of whom we are sincere in there desire to see the museum succeed but also have other kinds of needs. >> that's nicely put. it is ugly, you're working with
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a personalities who all want to be the boss. i learned something very early, my very first board meeting, before i even started the job. they sat me down next to oprah winfrey, thanks to bob johnson, bt, across from that of time warner, the head of american express. i'm terrified! i am a kid from jersey, with the heck am i doing here? the next, day after the meeting, because i didn't do very well. i, was, like stuttering. the head of the smithsonian at the time called me into his office and he said, you look a little nervous. i said, you think? basically, he said something to me that has been so helpful during this process. he said, those people are at the top of their game, they're the best in their field. and so are you. more importantly, they want what you're about to give them, which is to build a museum. so, view yourself as their
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equal. now, i never viewed myself's are complete equal, but it made me realize that, if i lead, i could learn how to work with them. but each one was different. quincy jones, i'll tell you the quincy jones, story it's the best. i go to see quincy jones the very first time, huge house in beverly hills. you often, there is oscars and emmys just laying on the ground. i'm like, oh my god, it's quincy jones. and so, i'm there a little early and he's finishing up a meeting. he introduced me to this person and it was someone from sweden. because quincy jones spent a lot of time in sweden. i just come back from sweden and i said, oh, i really like sweden and there's a museum i loved called the -- which is about a ship that sank, very important. quincy jones went, wait a minute, you know that? that's my favorite museum in the world. he opened a closet he had a whole little shrine to the boss a museum. because i could talk about the
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vases museum, we began to have this conversation. the second thing that made is close was our -- this is really silly, but when i'm 14 years old i think the most beautiful person in the world is peggy lipton of the model squad. i forgot, that was his ex-wife. let's talk about peggy, lipton e calder and she came over. i was, like oh my god. this embarrassing. like, hi, i love you has 14. somehow i wasn't that cool. but that allowed quincy and i have a great relationship. >> this is something of a follow-up. we have some number of staff members, and other associates of the international african american museum who are with us today. and i'm wondering, and i know you've had conversations with the mayor and other staff members, but i'm wondering if you have thoughts on some of the mechanics of building the museum, and building a staff. >> well, i mean, i wouldn't be
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-- there are many people that know much more than i. but i really think that one of the things about cultural insurgents is, if i do it right, you build a staff that's a family, you build the staff that recognizes that you can pay them what they're really worth. you want to make sure that you give them the opportunity to engage with interesting people who come to town. but to feel that, regardless of what part of the organization they are, their winds dumb counts. no one has a monopoly on wisdom. you want wisdom to flow from all aspects of the organization. the other thing is, to recognize that what's you do when you build a museum is you often don't see how your little moment, or what product you are working on, how important and transformative it is. i've always said to my colleagues, i need you to bring
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your a game. i need you to be better than what we can all imagine. because i don't want you to spend your time thinking, what does this mean to me? like you to spend your time thinking, what does it mean to bubba? what does it mean to ancestors? if you do that, you will get the acclaim in the sense that you -- all the people who work on the african american museum feel descent of ownership and wonder. they feel that they contribute to making the country better. that was worth more than i could ever pay them. >> professor silverman, as for your comments on the relationship between the smithsonian and the military around the cultural preservation. thinking especially, in particular, of the rebooted monuments program and the smithsonian's cultural rescue mission. >> in some ways, i have always felt that the smithsonian is
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out this amazing place that is blessed with resources, and expertise that not everybody has. it has the ability to work with anybody we call. they will help make us better. i have been so moved by the work that has been done at the smithsonian for generations, especially over the last decade, on cultural preservation, whether it is actually going to help rebuild many of the shrines that were destroyed, whether it was helping haiti rebuild so much after the earthquake. what happened in haiti, whether it is the work that we've done helping communities that have faced floods and recent years in the united states -- in some ways, the smithsonian has this amazing group of people who know how to preserve and conserve and save things that are threatened. in essence, the smithsonian has its own version of monument men
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and women whose job it is to basically show that we can be of value in ways you don't normally expect. i think that, one of the things i would like to see more of, is a closer relationship with the smithsonian and the military. especially the military museums and like. in some ways, while we have relationships that are at odds, i was very close to the people building the marine corps museum -- it really isn't a formal relationship. i would like to see more of that. most people don't know, the largest collections in the smithsonian that our natural history -- because natural history has 5 million butterflies. that our natural history came from the military. so much of the early smithsonian material came from the military involvement in the west, exploration, the largest collections in the museum of american history that i once oversaw are the military
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history collections. there have been a long history from the 18 80s, two today. >> a couple of questions here that i'm going to try to collapse. first of which is, on the current access to the museum, donna factor wonders, if it's easier to get into the museum these days given covid, and then, the second question is, if you might talk to efforts a volunteer engagement, how have volunteers been included in the museums programs? >> well, i think the museum, like the rest of the smithsonian, is closed now and everything is virtual. but to be honest, it is still one of the hardest tickets -- it's very gratifying. but it is also very interesting
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because, all of these people call me because i'm now more visible. i got a call, maybe about a year and a half ago, from this woman who said that she wanted tickets to the museum and i said, you know, i don't do that. my staff has let me do that anymore. she said, no, don't you remember me? i would see or girlfriend in seventh grade? she said her name, i didn't remember her at all. when you are 13, you remember every coach you had. so i didn't believe this. but it was such a good lie, i gave, her tickets. i think i am flattered and humbled that people want to get into the museum. to give you an idea of the numbers, we expected 4000 people a day, we got 1000 people a day. it is the most diverse fleet visited any museum in the world. but really move me, more than anything else, is that 30%, 30% of the people who come into the museum say they had never been into a museum as an adult.
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and this is the first time they have done it. it really provides a kind of educational opportunity, a kind of interaction -- you know, museums are at their best, they can create informal communities. people time to gather, they don't know each other, they come together around an artifact or an exhibition, where a public program. the conversations take it in so many different directions. i think that is what happens, time and time again, at the museum. i am very pleased, and will probably open as soon as it gets a little warmer in d.c., but i'm so pleased that people find it as a pilgrimage site. it has become a site that has people understanding the challenge of race in this country today. so i feel very fortunate that i was part of a group of people who got to do something that mattered. >> and, on involving volunteers -- >> oh yeah, full interest.
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sorry, i got carried away. you know, one of the things that was really important to me was to create an extremely active and large volunteer program. a program that would do what you traditionally expect. readers, doses, but also a lot of researchers. we have a lot of people doing -- one of the things we do is we transcribed the -- papers. those papers that are important but hard to read and access. the volunteers, we have thousands of volunteers who come and do that. now they do it from home. and so, really, the goal was, i wanted as many people as possible to own the museum. and i felt that, if the volunteers were a large group owned the museum, they became our best champions. and so, in some ways, one of the things i love the most, and i miss the most is being able to walk through the museum and just hang out with the volunteers. i've learned so much, i'm moved
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that they are 85, they are 35, and so i really think that -- i always think that you can tell the success of a museum by how diverse and how excited it's volunteer corps is. >> i'm going to try to squeeze in a couple more questions, i think we are running close to our deadline. norman see brooks is thinking about recent attacks on voting rights. and he asks, how does the museum continue to address contemporary issues related to civil and human rights? >> i think it is both drawing from the work that is in the museum, the talks about what it meant to struggle for voting rights. how long history it was, how many people suffered, how much lost there was, how much
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creativity there was in trying to figure out how to achieve that struggle. and, one of the things the museum makes clear is that one of the african american communities made the evolution from the slavery to freedom, there were two things that were key. one was education. and the second was protecting your freedom using the vote. and so, we tell that story. i think we also -- i'm no longer the director -- they also do a really nice job of programs that connect the past to the present. for example, i know that when the john lewis material about his involvement with both the voting rights act of 65, but also the struggle to protect it several years ago. we try to make sure those are the connections. the african american museum has -- and i think you will have the
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same thing, it's a benefit, people expect to have a contemporary residents. as long as you drill that in, you can fulfill those needs to the people who are expecting it. >> that may be related to this question. the question is, what is our elevator pitch for the international american museum in charleston? if they're on the spot, how would you make that pitch to somebody as to why they need to visit the international african american museum in charleston, south carolina? >> there are silences in history that hurt us because we can't hear them. the story that you tell on gadsden's wharf is one of those silences. if we can hear those silence is, if we can be brave enough to confront that history, if we can learn from both the pain and the resiliency of those who experienced it.
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if we can learn from the cooperations across racial lines to end slavery and the struggle for freedom, if we can do that, what a nation we could be? and we can do that, really, very well at the museum at gadsden's wharf. if you use that, you're going to have to pay me. no, i'm kidding! >> are there plans, with the african american museum in d.c., are there troubling exhibits, or other plans for something along those lines? >> there have literally been 25 traveling expeditions, we have travel to country. but even before the museum opened, we started with traveling exhibitions. so we are doing both traveling exhibitions and traditional way, and now more virtual expectations. people can engage in both. my belief was that, if the of african american museum in d.c. is successful, but it doesn't
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help other cultural institutions, then it failed. so when i hope the museum is, it is a beacon that draws people to washington, but then pushes them back to charleston. to detroit, to los angeles -- in essence, what we have realized, and i think it's been one of the great contributions, is the museum stimulator created conversations around history. what we see, after the museum's open, more attendant african american museums, museums that talk about civil war, for example. my notion was that, what you want to do is use the museum to sort of beat the drum on the power of history, the importance of history, and recognize that while there are stories that are told brilliantly at the museum, we need to so how those stories played out in charleston and other museums across the country. that is my cue.
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>> here's the setup question, this must be our riley relative. the question is, have you ever met anyone who does not know when to quit or what it means -- or the meaning of the word no, i.e., which joe reilly? >> joe reilly is, without a doubt, a friend and a special guy. the time he served as mayor, the vision for hit this museum, his desire to share his expertise through teaching. i wish we were all as good as joe reilly. >> what a nice guy! >> well, there is probably some -- nearly a dozen other, mostly comments, of thanks and praise for your work. secretary bunts -- bunch. i'm going to turn it over to mayor reilly to close us out.
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thank you so much for taking the time to answer the many questions from the group here >> well, it's my pleasure. as i, said you guys got me out of a budget meeting so, believe, me i'm a happy guy. i also want to say that, i mean this in all sincerity, my profound respect for the, merit my profound respect for the city of charleston and its history. i have a lot of friends in charleston who have made me better as a historian, as a scholar. so, i look forward to being able to, even if i have to stand in the, back peak over symbols, shoulder to be there for when this museum opens. because it's going to be a special day. it is going to continue the process of helping the country better understand itself. helping the country illuminate corners of darkness, find silences that need no longer to be silent. i, think in many ways, this museum will be transformative. >> thank you.
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thank you, kerry taylor, and professor taylor, doctor bunch. profound thanks. i all of us seen it obscene a great man, a great citizen of the world. the smithsonian is enhanced by bunch their leadership, the national african american museum, institute of, culture was created because of dr. bunch leadership. all have contributed or are contributing to enhancing our society. high standing and mutual respect for each other. doctor bunch, you are one-of-a-kind. and among other things a great writer, keep pushing this. everyone who's been on this today should get a fools errand,
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it's a wonderful book. it's informative and it's inspiring and dr. bunch, lonnie, i look forward to see you in washington sometimes. in rostered, when the museum opens in charleston, hopefully in june or july of 2022, you will be there and you will be speaking. and we will be standing with robust applause and gratification, for creating the national museum. supporting the national busy i'm here and for your big, all around great person, inspiring to everybody who's had the opportunity of meeting. you doctor bunch, thank you so much. >> thank you. my only hope is, when they ran we had at the smithsonian, you let me come to charleston. >> the doors are open. >> all right. listen, thank you all very much. great pleasure with you, all take care. >> thank you. who was the man behind him if
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confederate general? historian alan guelzo recently talked about his book robert e. lee, a life, on american history tv. >> lee could not ignore, however, in 1861, two factors. first, light horse harry lee, for all of his revolutionary fame, had been a hard look husband and father and left his family for the west indies when robert was only six years old. the shadow that light horsehair cast over the lee name was one that robert struggled to redeem, hence that broad street of perfectionism in his behavior. but robert also yearn to breathe free of his father's reputation in other ways. he wanted independence, he wanted to be his own man. and, in one, since his marriage
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to marry customers was an attempt to stake at around for himself. but he also yearned for security. the security has father had denied him. so, while most of leaves contemporaries at west point left the army as soon as they had received their taxpayer provided college degree and could decently resign and go into private engineering practice or some other profession, lee stays with the army. as the one certain profession and paycheck that he could count on. the hinge factor in this pursuit of independence, security and perfection was arlington. it was as much to protect arlington for his family as it was for virginia, that he chose to resign his commission and refused the office of command.
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that is not the only factor. the other factor in these decision was his expectation that there would be no war after all. hard as it is for us to appreciate this, because we are looking from the president backwards. in april of 1861, even after the secession of the southern states, even after the firing at fort sumner, it was still, by no, means clear that the crisis would have only resulted in a civil war. we could have simply resigned as army commission and stayed neutral. where he could accept the invitation extended to him to take command of virginia forces and play the role of mediator between virginia and the union. the, achieve, by peacemaking, a famed greater than his father
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had ever enjoyed in war. but of course, it did not turn out that way. like many, many others, lee found the secession crisis galloping away from him. in the end, step-by-step, incrementally, he found itself, by 1862, as the commander of the army of northern virginia. he played that role as perfectly as he had tried to play every other role in life. that he failed. but it did not necessarily surprise him. on the way to appomattox cortez, he frankly admitted that he had always expected that the war would turn out the way appomattox showed it would. but at least his conduct would show how he could rise, even above the feet. in the,


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