tv American Perspectives CSPAN November 28, 2009 11:00pm-2:00am EST
its own sake means nothing. it's empty. it's hollow. unless when people are seated they have the will and the conviction. and when people are seated, we who vote have the energy and the drive and pay attention to give support, to lend our voice, to weigh in. one thing that is interesting about the congress of the united states, some people who look at the congress of the united states look at the african-american community and believe that the only people who represent african-americans in the congress of the united states are members of the congressional black caucus. and lo and behold, sometimes people wake up. there are blue dogs, yellow dogs, red dogs, no dogs.
that have african-americans and latinos in their district. because a vote is a vote is a vote. my point is that there is an opportunity. and we have to understand the role that public policy plays. and we have to understand the value proposition that intelligent scholars play in helping to design and support that public policy, in a role that people play in promoting and articulating messages and supporting those kinds of public policy changes. we need to have a debate in this country right now. reverend jackson said and i agrow with him, it's time for a second stimulus. but it's time for a similar laws that -- stimulus that creates jobs in urban communities, in areas of high unemployment. it's time that we not beat
around the bush and say what needs to be said. that is a public policy measure. so we have to think about the types of things that we need to do. so those that serve on ways and means have discussions day in and day out about tax incentives and tax measures and tax provisions. why can't we give tax incentives to say that every solar panel plant that's built in the united states is built in an urban community? [applause] why can't we take the types of steps that are needed? i say we can. if we're willing to put our ideas into action. our ideas into action. so when it comes to public
policy, i know that the members of the congressional black caucus are on the frontline working. but we have to build the kind of work approach that supplements and supplies ideas, supplements and supplies support, of the kinds of things that we need to do. in this capitol next year, there's going to be a big discussion about the work force investment act. so i was sitting down talking to some very intelligent people with a lot of degrees. and i said there's going to be a discussion about the work force investment act. and i was asked, "well, what in the world is that?" i said, "it's just a few billion -- a billion -- of billions of
dollars that are spent on job training in this nation. and what the work force investment act does is it says where does it go, who gets it, and how is it spent. and that's public policy. the architecture, the design, how it is designed, who wins, who loses, where the emphasis is. that's public policy. there'll be a debate in this capitol next year about the elementary and secondary education act. and the same person said, what is that? i said, you heard of no child, let's leave them behind? i said, that's the elementary and secondary education act and that's billions and billions and billions of dollars. and how it's spent, how it's designed, that is public policy. so my point is, that in our
continued effort, continued effort to make the political gains that we've worked for and that we've won, a tool oftenned change and transformation. we have to focus in a new and more down mick way on the role of public policy as a way to bring about that kind of change that we need. so i just close by saying this. i had the great opportunity to be a jackson delegate in 1984 and 1988 as a very, very, very young man. and it was a great experience. and reverend jackson, as congresswoman lee said, inspired so many of us to believe that
electoral politics could be an avenue to bring about social and economic change and justice. we forget that very important lesson, that very important light that was lit many, many years ago, not only by reverend jackson but by so many of the pioneers in the congress, in the city halls, in the state legislature who worked. and that is what it's all about. thank you. thank you. [applause]
i'm rebekah myers. i'm with the national association of social workers. greetings to represent lee. one of the questions is our association has looked at issues of race and racism through the our pro effects, has developed some sidelines, how to work culturally competently, we have a code of ethics that addresses. this we are still predominantly a white organization. and after listening to some of the presentations, i just wondered -- dr. blakey, you talked about how we're in denial. and dr. goodman, you talked about how race is just dead dead science. what are some of the things especially from dr. goodman, that are really important for especially white people to take into account to try to change the surround, stop the denial? because that greatly impacts our profession and the people we serve.
>> well, one of the important issues is i understand here speaking to a select audience. and so we may be here largely agreeing. but there's another audience out there, predominantly white, young, middle of the country, et cetera, audience that really does need to be reached. and i think it's important to understand that racism -- living in a racist country is not just an issue for individuals of color, but it impacts us all. you know, it does us all in. ine qualities in racism, ine qualities by class, have
consequences for everybody in that society. the other thing i would say is a little bit more concept wall but what i found very useful in my classes and in my public education work is to talk about white as a race. and that many white individuals don't understand that they have been raised -- they have white skin privilege, they are just as much a race as anybody else is. and they walk around invisiblely with the advantages of white skin as dr. blakey has said. so to get individuals to understand actually how the category changes through time is important, how the expansion of the white category has changed, how my great grandfather may not have been characterized as white, but now i have i think it becomes a very, very important lesson in the dynamics of race and that race isn't fixed but it is changing.
and as many people on the panel have said, it's not about a fixed item or fixed idea of race but how we do think about race and how we change how we think about race. >> good evening. i get word of messages when i'm not here. so i heard there was an earlier question. but let me thank chairwoman barbara lee for this visionary program and the stellar members who are here in spite of my having to be detained elsewhere for a moment. i think the underlying premise is that we should not give up what is true. and if race and racism exist, we need to confront it, we need to not be embarrassed by it, but we need to be in the business of problem solving. and so each of you have
contributed to that thought. i know without hearing that there were jobs, economic development and empowerment. and i heard most of the speakers. and i thank you very much. i want to comment on the work that is being done by members of the congressional black caucus. i don't think there's any aspect of disparity or racial concerns that there is not expertise among the members of the congressional black caucus. and our joint colleagues as i see the chair of the asian pacific caucus of which i'm a member, chairman honda. the hispanic caucus. on the issue of crack cocaine, i'd like to weave inself things that i think are race-based to a certain extent. the issue of crack cocaine. i don't see any of my judiciary members. but we are confronting it head on. we may have an opening. because we now have a bill. many of us started out with bills on this whole issue of eliminating the crack cocaine
disparity. we actually now have a bill that's merged. the senate has introduced a bill or is about to introduce a bill. i think they're being challenged by finding a bipartisan member. we are likewise being challenged. but we have a premise of eliminating language that distinguishes between crack cocaine in the sentencing. we had my bill that had extensive aspects to it, drug courts and others that i think we'll be able to work through. but i'm very glad to join with chairman conyers and chairman bobby scott to work on a premise bill. a lot of members have bills. so i want you to look out for that. that's confronting it head on. the challenge of course is -- and with the justice department saying, without putting words in their mouth let's just say my interpretation of what they have said, we're open to this. and this is dastardly. this is killing the life expect tansy of our african-american
men, both by terms of life loss but by going into jail. the other one is h.r. 61, which is a good time prison release. this is all federal based. because in state system there is a parole. this has to do with giving good time for an early release for nonviolent offenses and nonviolent actions while you're in prison. what that does is it allows men, 45 minimally, to go out and to be able to secure employment and job training and support their families. i think that is key. and it's a key element of recognizing the imbalance in the numbers of people incarcerated. my last point that i think really wraps this up and gets all around that is this whole question of education and the 50% dropout rate that is an epidemic. i can't imagine that people not look at that as a race factor in an element. because it second-classes a whole generation of people.
so my question is, how do we address the question or the comment or the premise that we are a post-racial society when it comes to affirmative action, when it comes to outreach, it comes to -- i use those terminologies. affirmative action, special programs to stop dropouts in the african-american communities, special schools. do we need charter schools? should we be as bold and aggressive on saying yes, we do need isolated, pointed targeted programs even in the 21st century and 2009-2010 because it is really not a post-racial society? or are we apt to now just say they can do it on their own? i don't think so, but i'd like to do it in a way that we bring more people with us saying you're right. let's work on it constructively. and i'd appreciate anyone's comments. thank you.
>> thank you very much. and thank you for your advocacy. it's just inescapable that if you look at the current situation with unemployment and the high levels of unemployment on top of poverty, on top of the fact that after the last recession in 2002 there really was not a rebound, resurgence in jobs, in black and latino communities, that we have to if we're going to be to use the jar gone "evidence-based" if we're going to be targeted, if we're going to try to fix problems where they truly exist that we have to do things that are focused and that are targeted if we have the objective of trying to level the playing field. and that's just inescapable. i like to think of the
post-racial debate as the true thing is what we're moving towards is a multiracial america. if you look at the composition and the rainbow or the gum ball or the mow sayic of america, -- mosaic of america, the 2010 census that is critically important is going to show an ever-changing picture towards a nation that by the time we get to 2045 or 2050 won't have a majority ethnic group. that is a fundamental reality that that's the course and that's the path that we are on as a nation. so i don't think we -- we have to be concerned. and i think reverend jackson addressed this. about the twisting of the youth -- and several other speakers did -- the twisting of the youth of the -- the twisting of the use of the word race. the way in which people say you're playing the race card. you're raising a racial issue.
it's racial injustice and racial disparity that we have to seek to address and to correct. and i think we have an obligation as a nation. because if we don't address it, the past and the future is fraught with even more difficulty. imagine that in 10 short years by 2020 half -- half of the high school graduating seniors in america will be black, they'll be latino, or they'll be asian, pacific island. half. and think 10 years beyond that what that means for the emerging work force. so if you don't address the disparities now, it affects the national body politic. so i think one of the challenges is we have to frame the
discussion not just about the present and the past but we've got to frame the discussion about the future, about tomorrow and what has to be done today to secure a better tomorrow for all people in this country. and that's inescapable. you can't change the reality of how the population and the demography are going to change. you look at the electoral map in 2008. and you kind of break it apart. this is what's interesting. in 2008, 22% of all votes cast in the presidential election were cast by african-americans, latinos or asians. that's almost a fourth of all votes cast. 20 years ago, in 1988, that number was 12%. so the 20-year period that number has almost doubled.
now, 2008 it was but rested for higher turnout, grayer interest in the election. but it's a demonstration of what is occurring in this nation. and you leave increasely more people behind if we don't address the disparities of education, in healthcare, in economic empowerment at the present time. and i think we have to begin to frame the debate in different ways. >> we have about 15 minutes remaining. and we'd like to get as many questions in as we could. in the remaining 15 minutes. >> quick, i'd like to encourageous to really celebrate and really make the most of being african-american. i think that this is a perfect moment not for us to stop talking about race but for us to
really press to remove finally the last vest contingents of the stigma of infear yearity by being more race conscious, not less race conscious. i'd love to see us fully exploit the african-american cultural -- that reverend jackson and i started back in 1989 when we said let's consistently refer to ourselves as african-americans. not just to change our name but to institute a cultural renewal. this is the time for us to make the most of who we are, to be inspired in politics, in civic engagement, in schools. i love seeing the children say, "if barack obama can do it i can do it, too." i love that. and this is the time to plumb the depths of that. i feel a lot of apprehension in this room. i feel a lot of somewhat angst in this room. but i want to feel some joy in this room. we're african-americans in the united states at the right time.
mrs. >> we're going to now take as many questions as we can take. i think we probably have about 10 minutes left. we're going to ask our panelists to respond at the end. we'll try to see if we can at least get three more questions in. >> thank you. i'm reverend benson from arlington, virginia. i'm a minister member of the national council of presbytery here in washington, d.c. as we move forward in this effort to talk about advocacy to right the wrong and the inickities that we see, i would like to ask all of us that are assembled here and members of congress that we be cautioned that as we move forward to promote the efforts for advocacy for our people and for other people of color that we do so on a position that supports our president and his administration as opposed to being on the
opposite end. drawing on the words from reverend jackson earlier that this is a time when we turn to each other and not against each other. because i feel that sometimes it can be a move to discredit this great man at his great time. and we need to try and support him as we advocate for the different issues that have been placed before us. thank you. >> do we have a question? right up here. >> thank you. carmen morris, miami, florida, sanctuary of moses, combating child trafficking and slavery through education and [inaudible] in west africa. three days after inauguration i went back home to miami. and it was somewhat with an ak-47 in a crowd of 50 people
who went on a rampage, killing some, wounding others. my concern is that there's an epidemic, although we should be celebrating, yes. but there's an epidemic of violence in our communities where our young people are killing one another. how can we stem this tide? how can our organizations and our elected officials work together to stem the tide, to bring back the pride in our communities and the village environment that we once had in the churches, in our schools? because our kids are killing each other. and we have to do something about it. it's an epidemic proportions. thank you. >> thank you very much. one more question. do we have any questions on this side of the room? from my left. >> good evening.
my name is george gardener. i'm a student of howard university school of law. third year student. my question is not necessarily legal but more practical. essentially -- i guess my question is for any of the panelists. but i guess what would you say to i guess aspiring current elected represents, particularly those at the local level who are no doubt aware of many of the issues that we discussed tonight but who would say at the same time that they are following sort of the example and success of president obama and believe that race is no longer a primary issue in today's politics? >> ok. let me ask now our panelists to maybe take 10 or 15 seconds a piece and respond and that will be your closing statements. starting on my end.
>> i would say race is still a huge factor in american life. we still live in a country that has a racial contract that's over 400 years old. there's been lots of progress, but i'd like to focus on the outcomes. and as other people have said, when opportunity and outcome in measures of health, measures of wealth, unemployment, incarceration, et cetera, have equalized then we can begin to talk about post-racial. >> well, partly a response to several people, but also to the congresswoman's question, i am surprised, amazed at how far these prop grandists have gotten. the data on the existence of racism is abundant. it's produced by the national research council. it's produced by the urban
institute. it is evidently clear that discrimination continues. there should be a way to yes, forcibly fully turn those arguments and make them as flimsy -- to appear as flimsy as they are. racism should be a part of what we're -- in responding to the social worker's comments, should be a part of all of our learning. we should learn about the history of racism. we should learn about its prevalence. but that begins with an acknowledgement. i mean, even dr. phil mcgraw said -- [laughter] >> -- the things that are most dangerous to you are very often things you don't want to acknowledge but they are the things you must acknowledge if you are to improve and be healthy. so we have to do the hard work. and i can say that the american
anthropological institution recognized this vacuum. they developed a web site, race, are we so different. it's touring the country with funding by ford. it will be here in washington on the mall in a little over a year. but we must make more of these forums. and i hope our legislators will use the data at hand and be as forceful in combating this nonsensical argument as those who are making this argument have been. >> i'd like to perhaps take my time to also respond to the congresswoman's question and concerns.
and i mean, i agree with mayor morial in terms of yes, the disparities remain absolutely relevant. the problem is that whether it's a function of equal protection of the laws or due process that constitutional amendments that were put in place and on which we rely in terms of pushing those particular issues in the courts have in fact been interpreted in a very narrow and stilled way based on a very false notion of formal e quallity that assumes affirmative action, for example, is akin to jim crow and du jure segregation. so, you know, i'm a law professor, right? and i teach common law. so i say, okay, do i see a way to get out of this? other than the court overruling cases that reached as far back as the mid 70's with washington v. davis and boxee.
and given our system of precedence, that's not likely to happen. so in the alternative, you know, you don't sort of throw up your hands -- i don't necessarily contend that people should throw up their hands and say, you know, woe is us. i think that it warrants shifting to a legal framework that is expansive enough to recognize that special measures such as affirmative action are in fact a government's obligation as long as the circumstances so warrant and as long as the disparities exist that's evidence that they're warranted. which means -- and i am here to say i do not contend that human rights is a panace its own issues. but quite honestly at this point to continue to litigate ourselves into the very small corner we find ourselves in with
respect to merely relying upon the u.s. constitution and hoping that somehow they're going to get religion or get right and somehow change their mind versus advancing an agenda that says, you've ratifieded these treaties. they're part of our domestic law. hence you've got to do something. and affirmative action is part of what you've got to do. dealing with hate speech is part of what you've got to do. if it's about maintaining the status quo, the continued ven ration of whiteness and white supremacy then it's a problem. but our domestic legal system as it stands is much too simplistic to even deal with those concepts even though it's responsible for decree eight the complex situation that we find ourselves in today. so, you know, it's not that disparities aren't important. i just think that perhaps it's going to require us to think way outside of the box in place that is we're not necessarily that comfortable in an attempt to ultimately all achieve the
objectives that we seem to be trying to achieve. [applause] >> khalilah. >> let me just simply say that history must always be the lens through which we evaluate where we are now and determine where we want to go. and part of that vision in terms of how i approach my own work as a scholar, how i see myself as a mother, as an everyday citizen, is that i don't want our society to ever become post-race. because it means that you ignore a part of me and you ignore a part of our history. i think instead we have to move this nation towards being post-racism. and then we can talk about what it means to be a citizen, what it means to have a democracy, and what we can do to incorporate every voice into that process. so thank you again. [applause] >> just quickly i want to take the question which was about state and local officials. and having spent my career as a
state and local official, i think the first thing to recognize is that i don't think that president has ever said race is unimportant. i think that president carries a burden that very few of us understand. it's the burden of a pioneer. jackie robinson. it's the generation of people like my father who were the first blacks to lead american cities. it's an incredible burden. it's a burden with one's own people, it's a burden with the majority, it's a burden of expectations. it's walking a path and walking a course that no one else like you has ever walked. so you don't have a lot of people you can talk to and say, what is it like? and he has that very special and
important challenge. i think the important thing for -- and i try to make this point about people and elected officials in positions of -- is not to believe in that symbolism gets things done. that simply because you're there, you want to carry yourself a certain way and look a certain way and talk a certain way, that that gets anything done, that that will make things indeed happen. and i think the professor is correct what she perhaps didn't say is that the supreme court has gone down the path of basically making some incorrect interpretations of the constitution. they've got a record of doing it. they did it in dred, they did it in mess yes. they've got a record in -- in plessy in misinterpreting the constitution, reverend jackson.
and a lot of interpretations she mentioned are the fruit of justices appointed because of the outcome of presidential elections. politics, elections counts. and they affect life far beyond that election cycle. and i think she's right. but what i've learned in state and local government is that sometimes, and it's even the case now, that sometimes addressing disparities is a matter of priority. for example, the t.a.r.p. represented a commitment by this nation's taxpayers of nearly $1 trillion which was passed in 14 days. i don't think anybody read the
bill. [applause] >> maybe 25% of it. and we could repair the conditions of the schools. maybe another 25 of it and we could do something about health disparity. i think sometimes it's maybe not simply specific legislation but it is specific measures on top of a shift in priority, in priorities of where we invest our money. look at what we've done in this country. iraq and afghanistan have cost us $1 trillion. with t.a.r.p. another trillion. that's 2 trillion. want to know the deficit came from? it didn't come from president obama's stimulus program of 700 or 800 billion. maybe that contributed somewhat. so we as people also have to have the facts on the table and
understand how things have gotten to where we are. and what we need to address disparities. and i think that's the challenge of state and local officials, to be a voice on priorities, of where the priorities are. the last thing i would say about elected office, half of the members of the congressional black caucus today represent districts that are less than 50% african-american. i think that's about 50%? and when you're an elected official, -- you are in a different position if you represent a majority of black districts, community or town, versus one that us multiethnic and multiracial. you know, your challenges in the opportunities, that's real politics. and so one size doesn't fit all. one approach that someone in texas in a district that has
african americans and latinos and whites might not be the same as someone that represents predominantly rural african-american districts in term office what the priorities are and the things they give voice. to that's the reality of politics in america no matter where you stand. it's the responsiveness to constituents combined with a commitment to some philosophy and ideology. >> before i ask reverend jackson to come up and give us some closing remarks, let me take a moment to thank the first of all the panelists once again for your brilliant presentations and for your inspirations. [applause] >> an unbelievable dialogue. i want to thank my colleagues, member and listening. [applause] >> and being such remarkable leaders. let me thank the american an throw poe logical association for their -- anthropological
situation. also to the capitol visitor center for hosting us for this event. i don't know if terry is here. terriers thank you so much. our director of the capitol visitors' center who's doing a phenomenal job. and i have to thank our staff. patrice, irene, christina and joany. why don't you guys stand? because they pulled this together on a moment's notice. and i want to thank them so much for their hard work and brilliance and commitment to really the c.b.c.'s agenda which is all of our agenda, and that's pathways out of poverty, opportunities for all. reverend jackson, why don't you come forward now again in honor of your 25 years of service, which only 25 years ago began your run for the presidency. in honor of your life's work, i should say, thank you again for
giving us this opportunity to engage in this very important dialogue on the 5th anniversary. >> let me express again my thanks and my delight to be recognized in our part in this journey for making us a more complete union. a reason to look back with some joy upon our accomplishments, and yet not celebrate before the game is over. i think about august 20th, 1955, emmett hill was lynched. that was a low moment. those who killed him were celebrated. they walked the streets 40 years without facing prosecution. august 20th, 1963, dr. king spoke of dreaming and spoke on this broken promise. that day for those on the watch
dream park in climax -- across to florida -- saying we couldn't use a public toilet. we couldn't take pictures on the lawn of state capitols. black soldiers didn't have the same rights as other p.o.w.'s. our money was counterfeited. we couldn't buy a hotel room at holiday inn. august 1963. in august 20, 2008 president barack obama received the nomination of the democratic party in denver, colorado. one sees that growth there. on the other hand, we cannot get positioned where we become civil rights neutral when there's civil rights work to be done. we're now adversaries to manipulate us into the inability to protest how we feel because we have a president of our choice. and that is a real manipulation. so if you have a position of a
court decision that you can't use d.n.a. as a right to protect people who have been wrongfully convicted. we don't support that position. men on my staff in jail 30, 40 years, longer than nelson mandela. he was innocent. he was on death row three times. we can't be silent about that. another young man was in jail from florida 38 years. years longer than mandela. was freed by d.n.a. so we still have the right to fight the right without being manipulated into different than the president's position. of course we'll have different positions. we are free to have positions that enhance the environment that even he operates in. to put this another way,
representative lee, when our college sweetheart, valedictorian, brilliant sister, she graduated and got a job as a flight attendant for eastern airlines. it was a big deal. it made front page of our school paper, the local paper. she was a flight attendant, eastern airlines. another brother got a job who used to be with us, a ball player, as a driver for trailways bus. like that was moving on up the road. and then another brother got a job as an airline pilot. united airline. he could fly a plane. and there was great excitement. because we finally had a pilot. but let me tell you. his being a pilot did not make him the comptroller of an airline. it did not affect the price of
gas. it didn't affect the safety of the plane. his being an airline pilot did not affect the options of the flight attendants. it had nothing to do with the structure of planes made by boeing. i mean, he was the pilot of the plane, but there were powers above even the pilot. neath him. so he said, i. he said but the ground crew keeps me afloat. sort ground crew has a right to fight for their right, too, because the pilot will not go far without an active, aggressive ground crew. the ground crew has something to say when there are more people in jail or with no plans we must fight that because that is the right thing to do. the column in the chicago
tribune that says we bail out the banksters and put out the homeowners and forsook the children? the banks get zero percent interest and the students are paying six to eight percent? that banks are charging a fee for free money? i -- two of the boys cannot come back to school next semester with good grades, mark, because they can't borrow anymore. we cannot settle for going just from the government as lender we need the rates reduced. we must not give up the rights in the name of law and progress to protest for the right to be right. i remember people sometimes with dr. king sometimes people would argue with him. they kept marching. they disagreed with tactics sometimes. they didn't stop marching. i think we're making a mistake. becoming so tender in the head we give up the edge of civil rights protest. [applause] >> because if we protest, if we
give up the edge we cannot affirm, we cannot close that gap without an edge. we cannot close -- we must disturb the status question to close that gap. because there are some people who benefit. i used to wonder why the walls came down so slowly. because some people benefited from the walls. one reason why we came through the civil rights era, the last one, limited in our outreach is because we're bloodied up. we're damaged. dr. king got stabbed. the idea of fighting to get in the back of the bus? his home was bombed. he was -- the income tax, that case, income tax evasion, '58.
those who fight the walls get bloodied. i went to jail in july 1960. controversial, left wing, for using the public library. see, i'm not left wing. i'm right wing. i'm with the right. i don't know left wing, i'm right wing. i was trying to use the public library. but you develop a reputation and you can't get along with white people. no. i wanted to read. couldn't read because i was called militant because i wanted to get a week. those who marched for the right to vote. we got bloodied. it seemed to be unacceptable. even the beneficiaries of the voting rights act. to get open housing we had to march and take bricks. what we have done for this generation is that we have knocked down walls to build bridges. and those that go across the bring with a tail wind must understand that headwinds made the tail wind possible. that is the culmination. and our service is not generational.
that's absurd. african-american is intergenerational. the bible says do not remove the ancient landmark. you can't separate mark as a first black congressman and lose to the mayor of -- i'm urging us to find some generational link and define with our president by our agenda. i guarantee you. nothing we won't fight for he won't fight for it. if we don't fight for it he cannot grant it unilaterally. and i close on this. this gates -- thing, it was not handled well. they took that and made a -- so there was such a reaction to his dealing with that situation when they filed the lawsuit in the bank for red lining, [inaudible] it was racial justice. we must not be traumatized in our quest for racial justice. where we've made the most
progress was in chan or in new york, in football, basketball, golf, tennis, and track. it's hard to be the best golfer in the world. it's hard to be one of the best baseball players or basketball players. it's hard to be kobe bryant, to be the best of the best or or be lebron james. why are we so good at what's so hard to do? we're so good at that so the owners can get a box seat and observe. their children can even participate. why are we so good at what's so hard to do? and it's hard to be that. whenever the goals are clear, we can all go to the next level. but until that day, until the rules of the public and the
goals are clear, we vile late our conscience. we vile late the martyrs who let it be possible to fight back until that right day of justice occurred. thank you for being a part of that legacy and keep the hope alive. [applause] >> thank you again. i want to thank the audience for your participation, your attention and your commitment to peace and justice. and let me just thank members of the media who are here. thank you for helping us break the silence about this very, very important and topic of race. thank you and good evening. [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
>> tomorrow morning on washington journal,d nor james joyner of outside the beltway blog and adel stan of alternate talk about healthcare and the u.s. economy. then j street executive director on efforts by the u.s. to resolve long-standing differences between israelis and palestinians over settlements. after that, tim brown of the 9/11 never forget coalition discusses next week's rally against bringing 9/11 war criminals into federal court. plus your e-mails and phone calls. washington journal live sunday at 7:00 a.m. eastern here
on c-span. >> here's a look at our schedule. coming up next, the last of three nights of c-span original documentaries on the iconic buildings of the three branches of american government. we end tonight with an inside view of the u.s. capitol. later another chance to see a
discussion on race in america with the reverend jesse jackson. and then a look at ways to encourage americans to vote in presidential elections. >> tonight c-span concludes three nights of original documentaries on the iconic homes of the three branches of the american government, the supreme court, the white house and the u.s. capitol. we'll end our look tonight with a building
where the legislative branch meets to debate and pass the nation's laws, the u.s. capitol. the building lies directly west of the supreme court here in washington and it houses the house of representatives and the senate. ..
the dome is the world's most recognized symbol in american democracy. >> what is unique about the capital is that it continues to tell the story. >> here is a place that you can come and have the battle of words and ideas. >> i am in thrall by the senate chamber. if the walls could speak. >> as you look at the statuary's, it is the history of this nation.
1,770 feet long and almost 300 feet high, it has grown over the centuries as the country has grown. it is here where visitors have always come to hear the timeless function of congress going on. while it is open for tours, its private spaces far outnumber those that the public can see. built with an architectural style based on ancient greek and roman principles, it is a working building. and a museum with statues of notable americans sit here by each of the 50 states. historic old rooms and corridors ornately decorated with painted walls and ceilings.
the rotunda is where the senate and house shares it is here that the ceremonies of our nation take place. it is you're the paintings, architecture and statuary -- hear that the paintings, architecture and statuary reside. >> in the rotunda, you can see everything. it tells you the story of american history and how we have struggled to define it and describe it and to show the world what it means.
the thread that ties all the people together, you can identify by name. it is the notion of expanding the rights. expanding -- expanding rights. other countries have ideologies, but it is america's fate to be an ideology. >> representing that ideology is george washington. >> george washington's statute in the rotunda is a picture of -- is a depiction of george washington out of many depictions of george washington. there are busts of washington. washington is the single most represented person in the art collection. the city is named for him, he picked the site of the building. he laid the cornerstone. he is so connected to it.
>> after choosing a site, and then laying the cornerstone in 1793, of it was washington's -- it was washington's desire that it be completely done in 1800. >> washington's vision for this building was something large, magnificent, and would command respect and would make americans of every state love their country better and would be in the affections of all americans. that is his legacy. >> while washington's aspirations for the building and the federal city that it looks out on have been realized, his hopes for what he called a congress house on the banks of the potomac being finished by 1800 would go unfulfilled. that was due to construction, labor, and weather delays. as you look at the capitol as
it is today, it does not resemble at all the building in its early years of occupancy the house, senate and supreme court all shared space in a small box like structure. a summer league -- a similarly siad -- sized building was constructed. in 1826, the building that washington desired to be done by 1800, and now called the first capital, would be finished.
it was complete with the rotunda of lying under a copper dome connecting the two wings of the building. as you make your way from the rotunda in to the senate wing, you come into the oldest part of the capital where the large sandstone blacks, hauled into the building by slaves, the old columns that mark the interest into one of the early house chambers and the plaques on the walls give you hints of how the space was used from 1800-18 07. -- 1807. the nation's business and the history of the capital's beginnings intersect. as members of the press are escorted into the sweet of offices used by the senate republican leader, they walked into an inner sanctum of the building not seen by tourists, into rooms where thomas jefferson, henry clay and daniel webster walked and into the very beginnings of the capital's history. >> from 1800 to 18 02 -- 1802, it was a library of congress. after that, the supreme court from about 180621808 was in this room. -- 8006 to 1800 -- 81806 to 1808 was in this room. -- 1000 861,808 was in this room.
house, thomas jefferson became the first american president inaugurated in the u.s. capitol. >> no president in the history of the republic enjoyed a greater role in the development of the capital ben thomas jefferson. -- capitol than thomas jefferson. jefferson had a lifelong love and was responsible for bringing the first italian sculptures to america. that planted the seed that continues to this very day, that the building is something beyond shelter. it tries to record history and appeal to our instincts to allegorical representations. it helped ennoble the experience.
you see the wonderful corinthian columns. when the hall of the house was first used in october of 1807, it was a a claim that to be one of the most beautiful rooms if not the most beautiful room in america. imagine being a congressman in 1807. when you come to this unfinished capital in an unfinished city, but you go to
the interior of the south wing, it must have been breathtaking. >> it was the most beautiful room in the united states, they said. it is a gorgeous room. except for the purpose for which it was built, so the people could hear one another. the acoustics were dreadful. for the public, it is amazing how much that we build resembles a real approach. you used marble. you cannot expect the acoustics to be good, and they are not. people would babel away -- babble away. sounds whispered at one end could be heard in another position. >> to help with the sound problems, large red drapes were hung all round the hall. with the house now residing in its own wing, the original north section of the capitol was reconstructed. with both wings now completed, construction had begun on the middle part of the building until tragedy struck in the summer of 1814. the war of 1812 made its way to washington.
>> with a very inferior force, they swept the americans assaad and came to washington, seized it, and burned every public building. they burned the capitol, they burned the white house, and they did not burn the one place that they were told records were kept, and that was the patent office. >> the nation suffered a humiliating blow. that was when the british burned the capitol and the white house. congress came back shortly after the british left. they convened in temporary quarters. one of the first things they debated was whether or not to keep the capital city on the rotunda. some held it as a failed experiment, a silly thing to do to build a city for the federal
government. that did not hold up against those that were reminded that the city was founded by george washington. george washington's name was invoked time and again -- evoked time and again. we had no choice but to rebuild here on the potomac. in order to honor washington, one must repair the public buildings on their original sites. of course, that is what they did. >> with the capital in ruins, congress moved across the street in a building that is the current location of the u.s. supreme court. called the brit capital, it was
this structure where the senate and house would meet as they waited for the damaged capital -- called the brick capitol, it was the structure or the senate and house would meet as a waited for the damaged capitol was rebuilt. >> what is unique is the corncob columns. he was trying to incorporate american features into the building. we did not have a lot of american objects or symbolism, yet. megyn corn -- maize and corn was to meet. >> this is one of the few things that survived the fire of 1814. the first professionally
trained american architect, it was this man that completed the north and south wings before the fire. again, he was hired to rebuild the capital following the fire. as you make your way through the dimly lit corridors of the oldest part of the building, you pass by the republican office and the old senate chamber, finally reopened for use in the winter of 1819. >> i would have enjoyed being in the old senate chamber on the day that it reopened.
a marvel of architectural engineering, a marble of the american can-do spirit -- a marvel of the american can-do spirit. it must have been a contrast to everything around it. everything else in the city was muddy and dusty. everything else in the country, where most of the people lived in log cabins, there was this incredible temple to the legislative process with the marble columns, imported italian marble caps, wall-to- wall carpet, luxurious draperies, it must have been a stunning sight. henry clay of kentucky, stephen douglas of illinois, daniel webster of massachusetts, and sam houston of texas, that is
just to begin. this was the very apex of the golden age of the senate. everything was cleaning and the -- everything was gleaming and the air was fresh melon. -- a fresh selling. -- fresh smelling. this was like the floor of a stock market merchandise exchange just before the closing bell. it was the only place people had a place to work. a senator's desk in the senate chamber was his office. there was no other place to go. >> imagine no electricity, no furnaces.
you also see some spittoons here, as well. the carpet's would not have looked like that very long. looking at those spittoons at the senate chamber tells you a lot. every senator had his own. there were patterns all over the floor. >> and do you know who charles dickson -- charles dickens was? he said if he dropped his back on this carpet, he would not even pick it up with the glove -- with a glove. >> this was the room where the senate became the senate that we know today. would they first moved in here, it was a pale reflection of its modern cells. it was the rubber-stamp for the house of representatives. all the sudden, 1819, 1820, the major issue before the nation became slavery. the great thinkers that were in the house of representatives
began to decide if it was a group of states or something > a group of states. >> people used to line up at dawn to hear william webster speak. everybody felt that it was not the greatest speech ever heard, they could tell their children and grand children that they heard webster speak. i speak today, not as a no. man, but as an american. >> henry clay use it in the back of the senate chamber -- used to sit in the back of the senate chamber. i think henry clay never wanted to turn his back on any of his enemies or friends. he became synonymous with compromise. he was able to keep control over the senate. people charged him with being a
dictator. he said he was not a dictator. he was just a senator. he knew that he was the dictator. whenever john c. calhoun came into the chamber, there would be a buzz in the gallery because he was a dramatic man. he resigned from the vice presidency to become a senator. it started -- he started out as a nationalist and ended up as a section lost. -- sectionalist. he had to sit and listen as another the center red for him. his life was absorbed in the united states capitol in one way or another.
>> with the north and south wings done in 1819, work finally began in earnest to build the center part of the capitol. the rotunda, huge. >> the original idea that the center space for the united states capitol, the great ceremonial space would be a circular room, a rotunda capped with a dome. >> when this was being built, h was the big thing in town. >> -- it was the big fan in town. -- big thing in town.
>> the founding fathers were very familiar with ancient rome. probably some more familiar with roman than their own states, jefferson in particular but washington and others. -- with room then their own states. jefferson a particular but washington and others. -- a jefferson in particular, but washington and others. as construction of the lower 48 feet of the rotunda near completion in the 18 twenties, -- in the 1820's, congress look back at how would be presented to the country. -- look back at how it would be presented to the country. -- looked back at how what would be presented to the country.
>> the discussion comes to whether or not congress would buy the paintings of that a painter had been trying to sell the government for some time. the great paintings showing the american revolution. when congress appropriates the money to commissioned the artist for four of his paintings as a memorial to the revolution is sanctified. these four paintings are now just bought by congress with the idea that someone ago when the house side -- go on the house side or the senate side. they were meant for the rotunda. the declaration of independence.
the surrender a general. the surrender of cornwallis. and finally, and interestingly, washington resigning his commission. that was james madison's decision that that would conclude the series. someone had thought of bunker hill, but james madison said it was such a magnificent event when washington resigned his military commission, returning
military authority back to civil war to that had granted it in the first place. he said that it was such an act of selflessness that this must be remembered as an event just as great as the beginning of the war, the turning point of the war and the completion of the war. >> with the theme of independence providing the backdrop, and the marquis de lafayette was honored for his service during the revolution. the rotunda that lafayette would have seen was still a work in progress as italian sculptors worked to carve different scenes into the stonework above the doorways. >> of the sculptures and above the four doors into the rotunda -- the sculptures above the four doors into the rotunda show to violent encounters with
daniel boone in the wilderness and pocahontas saving the life of someone and the landing of the pilgrims with a native american handing in ear of corn to one of the pilgrims. it was an act of welcome and friendship. the last one is penn's treaty. >> you will see an alleged 38 feet above the floor that rings the space. that is where the original dome began lifting itself above the
rotunda. a dome that was finished in 1826. in the same year that the country was celebrating its 50th anniversary of the declaration of independence. >> when the capitol was finished, it became known as america's temple. >> the irony is that it was slave labor that built this temple for freedom. >> freedom for some was predicated on the enslavement of others. the united states capitol was constructed by in slave laborers as well as free blacks. i wonder what they thought of laboring at the capitol and building the structure that was going to house the senate and the house and our government.
i cannot imagine working under those conditions and not being free myself. >> it says something terrible that free men raise a symbol of freedom that is built by slaves. >> my favorite part of the united states capitol is that on the senate side, you can see some of the original sandstone, the huge blocks that were laid by slaves. it is original. it has not been touched. it is something that you can actually see and to give you a dramatic view of what type of labour they did. those blocks are so huge. it must have been difficult
labor. >> we are standing in what is probably the most famous building in all of america. what's inside this building that the slaves themselves helped construct, there is no telling of them in the capitol's story. >> i think that real history needs to be revealed. it was a place where the founding fathers had slaves in their possession. it was probably not uncommon to have a stone masons and people who did hard labor and doug the foundations that were part of a working society and they could have been slaves.
it is part of the history. we should not be ashamed of it. people should understand the history and culture under which this place was built. >> inside the chambers, the debate of what to do about the issue of slavery, disagreements over the federal bank and indian policy began to loom over congress. andrew jackson was inaugurated on the east front of the building in 1829. >> andrew jackson was the first president to be inaugurated on the east portico. jackson was the first president to be inaugurated on the portico because the united states capital was now finished. he was the first to see the finished united states capitol at his inauguration. >> he was the first president to be assaulted in the small rotunda. he could have been killed. it is miraculous that it didn't
happen. >> he was in the united states capital to attend the funeral that took place in the old hall of the house. following the ceremony, jackson took this path towards the center of the building as he attempted to make his way through the crowd and outside for his ride back to the white house. just before he reached the rotunda, chaos ensued in the small vestibule, leading into that space. >> this man decided that andrew jackson was preventing him from becoming the king of england and pulled out a pistol and fired it. instead of backing off, he has is a walking cane and he goes after the man to strike him and the man pulls out a second pistol. bang. again, it misfired.
he used a very fine powder, to ensure that he would kill jackson, and the humidity help the gun from firing. -- kept the gun from firing. >> congress commissions for more paintings located on the eastern wall. the team chosen in the 1830's was the exploration and settlement -- the athena, chosen in the 1830's, was the exploration and settlement of america -- the theme, chosen in the 1830's, was the expiration and some of america. -- and settlement of america. >> these were all very
romanticized. the artists of imagination was running over board. particularly when one looks at the painting of the baptism of pocahontas. it tells me nothing at all about pocahontas. it tells me nothing about jamestown. it tells the a lot about american romanticism. >> when you mention of native americans, it shows up all lot of places with pocahontas and william penn. it is interesting because it is all over the capital. in the rotunda, -- >> you get a real sense that what the artists are talking about is america and american expansion. america's destiny to populate
the entire continent with citizens of the united states. in order to justify that, they needed to do paintings that aren't just showing people planting flags on nebraska, but scenes that people will recognize. why does america get to go from the atlantic to the pacific because they are in the process of doing that. they showed americans as the symbol of what america can do. there are images of americans civilizing the native americans. there are images of americans being subjugated, violently, by
the conquering europeans. there are images of native americans as childlike people that need to be taken care of. they take these simple, natural people and help them. there is a native american that is crouching down, even if he stood up, he would be taller than the pilgrims and he offers and your of corn. -- an air of corn -- an ear of corn. in this sculpture, he looks eye to eye with the native american. if you look at the picture, there the same high. >> this is not the way the story would be told today, but it
tells you a lot about the 19th century attitudes and the doctrine of manifest destiny. >> with the first united states capitol completed in the 18 twenties, it is less than 30 years before a bigger building is needed -- in the 18 20's -- in the 1820's, is less than 30 years before rebuild -- a bigger building is needed. is this dome that we see today. -- it is this bill that we see today. -- it is this dome that we see today. >> for me, being able to drive
into work every day and see the dome of the capital, the highest point in the district by law, it stands out. it is the citadel of freedom both domestically and internationally. >> people all over america recognize the dome of the capital even more than the washington monument -- of the united states capital even more than the washington monument. i think it is the symbol of freedom for america.
>> what you see is a composition of a great domed center building with these wings that reflect the american congress. the dome has got to rank well up in the roster of a magnificent achievements in architectural know how. >> it is literally a dome within a dome. it is held together by 9 million pounds of cast iron. >> the dome does not look like a feat of engineering, but when you go up into the dome and you find yourself between the shells, you are amid a 36 huge cast-iron trestles that cold not just one dome or the other, but they actually hold of both. the dome is so magnificent, if for no other reason and then that it is a transitional structure.
>> with the country growing rapidly, the first capital that was completed in 1826 -- the first united states was completed in 1826 -- by 1850, they expanded the senate and house wings and with construction under way on the extensions, it was decided in 1855 that a new dome would be needed to architecturally complement the new wings. it was left to thomas walter and montgomery meigs to do something that was unprecedented. >> without any committee hearings, congress authorized removal of the old tone and construction of the new after
just a few minutes of debate. architect had an appropriation of $100,000. >> they voted for it, thinking that it could be constructed in just a few months using $100,000 but it took 10 years and $1 million. we see the slow but steady progress of the dome. i think that one of the great things about the history of the capital is how well it is documented. certainly the advent of photographic documentation is one of the great benefits of being a historian today and looking at the wonderful photographs that were taken of the capital, particularly to record the construction of the new dome. the first photograph that was taken on january 80, 1856, shows the old don't removed --
dome removed. you had to have a lot of faith that these architects and engineers had not made a blunder by taking off that old of dome. one photograph showed these come now that was an open sore -- one photograph showed a canal that was an open sore. we can appreciate this ordered condition when we see these photographs taken by a photography that is recording the prague -- the progress of the dome. there are few that show other things that are very intriguing. at the beginning of the civil war, there is a construction photograph showing the dome in 1861. almost invisible, in the foreground, our soldiers standing at attention.
>> it was being built when the war started. it was decided by congress that we do not need to spend a lot of money on this dome when we have a war to fight. they decided to appropriate no more money, which meant that the work would stop and the people who were building it recognized that with vandals and weather, all of the materials lying around could be destroyed. they decided to continue to build it, hoping that when the war ended, that congress would pay what was owed.
as it rose, it could be seen by the confederates, and that could -- that was the symbol of our nation. >> we were told the story of abraham lincoln ordering the dome completed as a sign that the nation would continue. that story is only partly true because it was the contractor's decision to continue the dome and president clinton used the contractor's decision to be a symbol of national resolve. it was not the administration's decision to continue the construction of the dome. seeing the dome under construction by the tens of thousands of union soldiers that marched to washington,
facing an uncertain future -- marched through washington, facing an uncertain future, gave them a sense of continuation of the country. that great white dome, rising slowly above the capital, was a symbol of the future of a united country. it was seen as a sign of a successful outcome of a civil war, reuniting a country that had been torn asunder over the issue of slavery. >> on top of the symbol of unity stands a statue of freedom. it was put atop the dome in the summer of 1863 while the war
still waged on. >> the way that the architect decided to finish off the exterior of the building had the statuary. the architect felt it was better to finish off the united states capitol with a statue. the supervising engineer wrote his favorite sculptor who was living in rome and ask him to come up with an idea. in his letter, he said he did not think it was a good idea for it to be washington. the sculptor thought that a figure of freedom, triumphant in war and peace, would be a suitable figure. that delighted him. he authorized the sculptor to come up with a design which the secretary of war, jefferson davis, approved. he disapproved of the liberty
cap that the statue was wearing. jefferson davis concluded that american freedom should not be symbolized by the badge of freed slaves. it was requested that the statue be modified. the sculptor substituted the liberty cap with a helmet of an eagle feathers. -- helmet of eagle feathers. the head and shoulders of the statue were mounted into place on top of the dome of the united states capitol. >> the most interesting part of my research has been the statue of freedom, which was cast in bronze by a slave laborer named
philip reed. it is so ironic that the statue of freedom was cast by enslaved person -- by then enslaved person. he was freed by the time she was raised to the top of the united states capitol. philip reed had been freed for over a year when she was placed atop the capitol -- atop the capitol building. >> tonight, c-span concludes three nights. if you would like additional information on the supreme court, the white house, or the u.s. capitol, visit the web site at c-span.org and there you will find links and histories of the three buildings as well as the institutions that they house. that is that c-span.org. -- that is at c-span.org.
american icons, now available on dvd. >> a unique journey through the iconic homes of the three branches of the government. see the supreme court through the eyes of the justices. go past the velvet ropes to the less scenic places of the white house and explore the history, art and architecture of the u.s. capitol. >> american icons, 83 disc cd -- dvd said. it is $24.95 plus shipping and handling. order online at c- span.org/store. >> c-span concludes its look at the u.s. capitol with a look at the dome. >> any trip to the top of the
dome is a treat to any visitor today as it was when the dome was first completed in the 1860's. >> i wish every visitor had an opportunity to come here and be able to go on a dome tour. to go up to the top of the u.s. capitol on a beautiful day and look out, it is something to behold. you get so close to the painting that is unbelievable. then, you come out and walk
around the dome. you see how the city, washington, is laid out. >> where are we going and how far do we have to go? >> you are going into the dome, about 252300 stairs. -- 250-300 stairs. start watching your head and your feet. there is yellow and black tape, but be aware of where you are walking because at times, it does ankle. -- and go. -- angle. >> it is a long, narrow, and sometimes tiring trip. one enters the two were by climbing a staircase that lanzhou on top of the roof -- detoured by climbing a staircase that lands you on top of the roof -- the tour by climbing a staircase that land to one top of the route. -- lance you on top of the roof
-- lands you on top of the roof. it can actually look up and see the 72 brackets that hold the columns. that is where you --that is where you start the tour of the dome. you have a back staircase to a little door that puts you through the brick work and through this massive by million -- 5 million pounds of brickwork that were added to knit the new i were to the old. you go through an opening and duck your head down as you go
and you turn into the first visitors gallery. when you are at the first visitors gallery, you are in this narrow aisle. it seems specious because you have the entire 1 million cubic feet of the rotunda to one side of you and these large windows to the east on another side of you. you can look up the windows and see the supreme court and the library of congress or you can look down and see the people in the rotunda below. you can look up and see the great painting. you continue up these series of door which puts you into the space between the outer dome and the inner dome. it looks as if you're in the whole of the ship. -- the wholhull of a ship.
you see these large, incredibly heavy, strong trusses that curve up and hold the inner dome and the hour drum -- and our dome -- and after dome's -- and outer dome. to see the back side of the coffers, when you see the interior dome, they look great when you see them on the floor below. there are spectacular we see there from the backside. when you are going through the myspace -- through the space, it winds its way through the tresses and over the arching belly of the interior dome as
it makes its way to the second visitors gallery. >> this is 18 stories, and you were not at the top of the dome. you can talk as loud as you walk up here and they cannot hear you in the rotunda. if you go to the other side, you can hear my voice perfectly. -- you can talk as loud as you want to appear and they cannot hear you in the rotunda. -- you can talk as lot of shoe want to appear -- you can talk as loud as you want to appear -- up here and they cannot hear you in the rotunda. this is a fresco and a mixed
paint and water to gather. -- together. it is the most durable kind of painting there is. they hired to the painter for the capital because they liked that kind of work. >> you can see george washington. it is called the apotheosis of washington. he is ascending into the heavens to become a god. >> he knew people would be looking at it 18 stories down. but he also put the details in a because he knew people would be up here looking at it. -- in it because he knew people would be up here looking at. ♪
♪ >> it is awesome to stand in the rotunda and see the painting. to look up, there is nothing like it in the world. >> the artist but george washington in the center of the capital. -- put george washington in the center of the u.s. capitol. washington is rising and to heaven. that seems funny to us today, we would not treat a president like that today. but it was common to show him like that in the 19th century. . .
>> minerva is talking to robert fulton and others about their invention, and in the background is an electric generator and batteries. there were battery back ups like that in the dome. they were used at night, the gas jets that provided the light at night, it was a wire with an electric arc. these were in the capital, and then they had neptune, the god of the sea, and venus, and you wonder what that is. they are helping lay the transatlantic cable, which was being delayed when the painting was not finished yet.
it carries the telegraph from the united states to europe. it is brand new, and he was very proud, interested in new technology. there is a mccormick series. it is kind of a strange combination of the modern and classical gods. >> and that is all of the symbolism and the apotheosis, the wonderful fresco on top of the dome. it is an amazing story, the apotheosis, and it is a crowning jewel in the capital. >> when you leave the second visitors gallery and again go of a stair that leads one way and switches back and comes back another way, to weave its way back through the structural members of the dome.
it ends up at a platform level below the statute of freedom. >> you walk through some tiny, narrow little hallways, and you realize the growth of the country, where we had one dome, in 50 years later we had another dome on top of that. walking up to the statue of freedom on top, and then looking out at the 360 degree panorama. this is the heart of democracy around the world. as you are ascending that stairwell, which not many people see, you realize what a wonderful, moving, magnificent building it is. >> you get a great view from the top of the capital. you see the senate office
building, you see the house office building, you see the supreme court's, union station. you could look towards washington national airport. >> the plan of the city is easy to understand from on top of the dome, the avenues all converging on to the capital. >> it is almost the first time some of the streets in washington make any sense. you are looking down at them almost as if you are in the air, and you see them all converge on the capitol building. is a great experience. -- it is a great experience. >> looking at the capitol from the west, you see at either end of the building the extension that were built in the 1850's to accommodate larger house and senate chambers as the memberships of each body expanded along with the population growth of america. to the left is the no., senate
wing of the capital. all the way to the right is the southern, house wing of the building. as you make your way south to the old hall of the house, today called statuary hall, you leave the boundaries of the chamber that was used from 18 07 to 1857 and coming to the south wing extension, directly toward the door of the current house chamber, originally opened up in december, 1857. >> the gentleman from michigan is recognized. >> this congress must not walk away from its role. >> this is a bill that deals with constitutional rights. >> i urge my colleagues to support this bill. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from pennsylvania. >> will the members please remove their conversation from the floor.
>> mr. speaker, we meet today at a location actually selected by george washington. >> we teach about this place, what happens inside of this building, the people who interact here. the things that happen here are unique around the world. >> the legislative body is like a heart beating. it comes and goes, comes and goes. it would just be fascinating to watch it go like this. >> the house of representatives in the data states is made up of average people. there are some bright ones, brilliant ones, and there are some not so brilliant ones. they're good, bad, all the foibles of the american population. >> you do not come here to fail. you really want to make a difference. too often, americans think of
them as just criminals. another famous joe about -- the famous joke from mark twain. he said in the united states we do not have the criminal class, except for congress. they are windbags. they care only for their own interests. they are greedy and such. >> this house is where we fight the battle of ideas. at the end of the day, we make the law as that govern the nation. >> i cannot help but think about the previous debates, debates about going into world war ii, debates about coming out of the depression, debates about world war i, at a time when guys were here fighting the progressives, doing the things they had to do to try to get their agenda crossed. it is an interesting place. this place is steeped and steeped in history.
>> the house really is the people's house. i think members have to remind themselves of that. there have been a lot, how many thousands, of predecessors who have served, and there are many to come. and the history of this chamber and its traditions is what constitutes for many, their love and affection for the institution. >> every day that i walk on to the floor of the house, a look at the speaker's rostrum and i see the american flag, literally the hair on the back of my neck stands up. >> this is where president kennedy stood. this is where president reagan stood. president clinton. this is where queen elizabeth stood. this is where president mandela stood. it is a great feeling with a group of visitors to say the president walked down this
aisle, he goes around to the first podium, has a copy of his address, gives that to the speaker and to the vice- president. this place is recognized all over the world. [gavel] >> this is a working building and this chamber is a working chamber, but there is so much that you cannot see on television. when you visit the chamber, it opens your eyes. it is very much like the experience written on a page, and then seeing it come to life like a play or at a museum. it is a wonderful example of how the day to day activities that are so important to the governing of the nation and the furthering of our goals as a
nation are held up by the decorations, some of the decorations that we cannot even begin to describe how important they are. they are symbols and images that support what we do. ♪ >> i want to measure and take a look at this and see what is going on. but it the measurements. >> when i walk into the house chamber to check on art, the first thing i noticed are the symbols that are in there. the symbols that are there are very important.
the cornucopia, next to the clock, a traditional american symbol of abundance, the fruits of liberty. there are stars, the new star in the front of it, the united states, the stars and stripes. there are lots of other things, there are the fascis on either side of the speaker. all of these rods are bound together in ancient rome. individually, they look like a staff or read, put them together and they are strong. it is a traditional symbol of the roman republic, in which the people ruled. those are there, too. you go in the chamber and you raise your eyes up, and there is a wonderful silhouette almost of an eagle with its wings spread. up there in the sky. it is rather like a skylight, although it is covered from behind. it is not open to the heavens,
but it is a wonderful eagle. the thing i love most about it is the sense that is spreading its wings over the day-to-day work of the congress, the great aspiration as seen in that great symbol to the nation. it is the american bald eagle. when the congress is in session, the mace is also there. it is been there since 1841. it, too, is a bundle of ebony rods, topped by a terrific eagle standing on top of it. >> i think traditions are important. when you forget about the traditions, to forget about the flavor of this place. the maze is interesting. every time i see the speaker of the british house of commons, i accuse him in 1814, when the british burned the capitol
down, they also stole our mace. you read the stories of former speakers, when this place got rowdy or people got out of hand, there was a fight on the floor, you had% the mace. it is a symbol of what this country has invested in the congress, the power of the congress, the power of people coming together and getting things done. >> congressmembers, please take your seats. >> i always have to explain to students when they come about what is really going on on the house floor. i say this is america coming together. this is like the stock exchange, but of ideas, and the hubbub and the discussions, there is a lot of business actually occurring down on the
floor. it is one of the few chances a member has to find another member. you can see all of this activity down there. it is a very exciting time, actually, and the people in the galleries say, why did they sit in their seats, behave themselves, and yet it is where ideas are exchanged and is very alive. for all that is good about that and bad about that. >> there are 435 of us in there, and cannot go around and see everybody, you cannot call everybody, it you need to work with many of them. how we do that is on the floor. every time i go to the floor, i am looking for somebody, to ask questions, every time i go. that is what happens there. it's seems unruly, but there is business going on.
that is the way a legislative body functions, and i hope it is always that way. i hope even with technology that we do not vote for mar offices or districts. the one thing about technology, it disconnects people from getting along with other people, tolerating other people, looking you in the eye and asking for forgiveness. that is a problem. >> it put in a big score board, and all the members have their yellow and green lights next to their name and there is a count going on. there is a lot more drama in the house chamber because of that, all of these people pouring in, not knowing how the vote is going, the shouting, the commotion. the senate still vote by voice. the nature is very different. if has always been different. in the 1830's, they noticed the difference between the two bodies is almost exactly the
same as in the capital today. >> when we look over the chamber today, a bird's-eye view, we see something that looks vaguely colonial. but in 1857, the space was very much the same, the architecture, the structure, the show has not changed, what was inside was very different. one of the big differences, it were to transport back in time, is the members sat at desks with chairs. today, they are called benches, seats essentially, where people sit. it was as if the chamber itself was the office at the time. they had desks where they could keep stuff. the other big change that we see in the chamber today from the way it looked in 1957, at -- in 1857, a member came back, the rostrum is beautifully carved wood, of laurel reads carved on the front of it, with
some of the words of the great aspirations of our nation of the house of representatives. at the time, in 1857, the height of showing your architectural respect for the institution would be to create something in marble. the capitol itself, on the outside, is entirely marble. it shows a time business for the endeavor there, the greek and romans used capital. the rostrum was made of marble. it was white marble and was significantly smaller as well. today, with some of the people doing so many jobs to keep the congress running, there are a lot more people sitting there. when you turn on the television and look at what is going on in the house of representatives
chambers, there are lots of people down there, more than there would have been in the 1800's. when you go into the chamber yourself, sit in the gallery, you are up high. you have the perfect view. >> right above the speaker's podium is a profound " from one of our distinguished founders, daniel webster. >> when you look straight up, along the wall, from where the speaker sets, you see up along the corners almost, there is a quotation from daniel webster. it is not sit here in the house of representatives. it was an oration that he gave not even in washington, d.c. it is a wonderful reflection on what is important to us, what we consider to be, in fact, some of the reasons we are here as citizens, as members of congress. it is something that i think, like many of the symbols of the capital, members look at every
day and are reminded of the high purpose to which they are called. you can see the lawgivers, the release around the chamber of the people throughout history, who have created great laws and great advances and how laws are made and administered. other things and as the most are the portraits of washington and often get -- and lafayette. as late as the 18 20's, he came over and took a tour of the united states before turning back to france. at that time, and early 18 20's, that picture was presented to the house of representatives. he was a firstborn dignitary to address to congress as well. because he had been such a great and good friend of washington's, as well as one of his strongest allies, there was
a portrait of washington commissioned there to match the picture of lafayette. it shows how what we do is a portrait and continues through as a threat to what we have done. they have been there since we have first arrived in congress, more than 180 years ago. >> it is here that you can make a difference. and i think that is what every member of congress has to recall, that they have been given a gift by their constituents to come here and make a difference. and they should spend every day toward that end. when they fail to do that, they have failed as a member of congress and they have failed at the american people -- and they have failed the american people. >> is not just what we do in the present, it is not just the decisions we make that affect
present lives, as part of being the threat of the history of america. -- the thread of the history of america. >> it is such a great honor to serve in this institution. >> this place is unusual and all the world. there is spirited debate, you disagree, you can battle with words and ideas, and that is what system is about. that is the stuff of all those congress process is about perjury -- about. but we do not settle it with pitchforks or fights. you have the battle of words and ideas and ashley have progress, get things done perry -- and actually get things done.
>> the rotunda bridges the house and senate side to the capital. it is from here that you enter into the oldest part of the capital and into the senate wing of the building. as you make your way from the old as part of the capital into the expansion built in the 1850's, you see a stark contrast in the decorative nature of the old and new as the senate of the 1850's desire to showcase their part of the capital to visitors from around the world. it is into this artistic and architectural design where you find the current senate chambers, surrounded by ornately decorated halls and rooms and open during the winter of 1859. >> i am always enthralled by the senate chambers. the walls themselves. if they could speak, what could they tell us? what would they tell us?
i think of the great men and women who have served it. >> there something special about seeing yet. it is an empty theater. there is a certain feeling when you look around, you look at the buttresses of the previous presidents, you look at the desks, robert taft, lyndon johnson, hubert humphrey, barry goldwater, the people who have had a huge impact on the institution of american political history. this is the chamber where they fought their battles. there, tribute is paid to these people. >> the senate is almost like a living creature, not a whole breathing. and has a temple, atmosphere. you can watch it and see it. it is almost like a person. you treat it like you would treat another person.
i think it responds well. even when you are trying to make it do something it does not want to do. >> the real role is to be a forum for the states. each senator is equal. to a degree. with any other senator. each senator can speak as long as he or she wishes to speak. there is freedom of speech. freedom of speech runs deep in english history. roman history, even, and colonial history and american history. since the constitution can along. freedom of speech. >> the senate chamber opened on january 4, 1859. on that day, members of the sun at as a body -- members of the senate as a body left the old chambers, walk down the
corridor, into their new chamber. there was excitement, enthusiasm about this new space. you go into the senate chamber today, it is hard to evoke the way that the chamber look like in the 19th century. it has changed so dramatically. and the 19th century, when it opened in 1859, the room was highly ornate, floral patterned carpet, filigree and gilding on the wall, and a wonderful stained-glass ceiling. the senate chamber was expanded during the 1850's, and it is open because as more states joined the union, more space was needed. in the 1850's, congress appropriated $100,000 to build two new wings for the house and senate and the capitol grounds. when you look out from the galleries to the senate chamber, there is a variety of
things going on. really, the layout that you see today is very similar to the layout and the old senate chambers. wall decorations changed, -- while decorations change, the same layout and formality continued. what you have at the center of the room is the day as -- dais. in the 19th century, the vice president would have been frequently at that desk. nowadays, the presiding officer is more frequently a member of the majority party, and they sit at that desk, overseeing what is going on in the chamber. you also have in the galleries, the press gallery above the presiding officer's desk, up on the third floor. the press can look down and see what is happening. around you, is to look into the chamber, are visitors' galleries, diplomats galleries, member galleries. specific areas for people to go to see what is going on and on
the floor. and of course, the room is divided into the republicans and democrats. if you were at the presiding officer's desk looking toward the senate, on the left-hand side would be the republicans and on the right would be the democrats. the majority leader and minority leader are front and center, right at the front of the room, and the center aisle. >> when i walk into the current senate chamber, and icy when hunt -- and i see 100 beautifully polished desks, i have a lot of different thoughts. one is that those desks are occupied by the latest of a long, unbroken chain of senators going back to 1789. there have been over 1880 members of the senate, and there really have reflected all kinds of shapes of opinions and walks of american life. >> the senate chamber desks that the members used today are probably the most unique and important pieces in our
collection, as far as decorative art and furniture. the reason being that 48 of those desks were purchased in 1819 at a cost of $34, by a new york cabinetmaker, thomas constantine. there have been desk prior to that time, but the british marched on washington, part of the war of 1812, and in august, 1814, set fire to the capital. all of the furniture was destroyed. these desks date till after that time. they acquired these in 1819. they are beautifully made, mahogany, and leads the near. there are even -- inlayed veneer. there are even grills on the sides for one of the earliest air-conditioning systems, with cold eyes brought in underground coal the chamber. this was a way to ventilate it in the room, the grates on the
bottom of the chamber to allow the air to come through slits in the floor. today, as curators, we try to preserve that history. we also recognize that every senator who sits at that desk, every event that happens in this chamber and adds another layer to the history of that desk. members in the 1830's start assigning their desks. not every member, but we have the signature, or often adjust carpet with a penknife and side of the desk drawer. >> i used my father's desk. you karcher name like a schoolboy tradition, which is -- you carve out your name, like a schoolboy of tradition. senator " was his first to carve his name to my desk. my father used the desk, lyndon johnson, and so i carved my name into the desk and i kept that desk for a quarter-century. there are two dodd names on that desk. i guess knowing the history of
these desks, the history of the daniel webster desks, he was such a tight what we came to public spending, he would not have a top put on the desk to give you extra office space. his desk is the only one that does not have a lift up top. for those of us who have been here any time, the history of those desks is significant. >> people walk around the senate chambers, you will see a lot of marble busts, and you will recognize many of these as former presidents of the united states, lyndon johnson, gerald ford, toyota was senior, but they're not there because there president of the united states,
the east to be the preside -- they used to be the presiding officer of the senate. so much of their history as always presidents, from the very first president john adams up to harry truman's vice president, that was their prominent primary role. in the 1890's, the senate has a resolution commissioning the busts of each of the vice- president. the first 17 or in the inside of the chamber, and then they're all through the rest of the building. some of the vice presidents of the net states left us under a cloud. in the 19th century, henry wilson and colfax or both implicated in a credit scandal. in the 20th century, spiro agnew had to resign from office when he was accused of accepting bribes as governor. so there are a number of people
who are less than stellar, but there on the collection because they represent, the artwork represents all of them, successful or not successful, they're all here as part of american politics over time. they're quite fascinating. some of them are quite spectacular. the statue of theodore roosevelt is really dynamic, as you expect theodore roosevelt's bust would be. >> above the doors and the senate chamber are latin phrases as well as symbolic imagery, basically marble reliefs. the marble relief are by an artist that is done in the early 1950's, as was the leitmotif. basically, it was part of the renovation of the chamber in the 1940's, 1950's. the imagery that you see his patriotism, careers, and wisdom. -- patriotism, courage, and wisdom.
they were given a lot of latitude to design and thought it would be appropriate in the senate chambers. these are quite lovely pieces. the latin phrases, the first one is "got has savored are undertaking" over the east insurance building, the west entrance, which is "the new order of the ages." then you have "in god we trust." finally, over the presiding officer's desk is "e pluribus unum," "want out of many." -- "one out of many." >> why did you plan active role and opening up the senate chambers to television? >> i did not want to get too sanctimonious, but i generally do not like secrets. i just think life is a lot easier if you live in open book. i thought was part of the modern era, that we are not covered by media, is the
electronic age. audio, radio, and of course the powerful medium of television. i thought the people who cannot come to washington, small-town u.s.a., should have a chance to see and hear what we do. in some respects, i think it has adversely affected us. i think we do have more performing for the eyes of the camera. but i also find that people on occasion have seen us at our best, when the debates soar to a degree, and they see that we look at it and we have legitimate disagreements without being disagreeable. it was really simple for me. >> the public hears the debates that are going on. as a firsthand witness to, to understand exactly what is occurring, not just by reading
the record, but by hearing the voices, watching the faces of those were the authors and architects of policy. the downside of it is is almost feeder. does not seem real. we do not have as many real debates because of that. people are where they are performing on a very public stage. not that they were not before, either, but there was a limited audience. i think that truncates the debate. and has a way of stylizing the debate and depriving people of the real negotiations and conversations that are historic late part of any legislative production. >> the clerk will call the roll. >> the rules of the senate are really complex to me when i first came over from the house. i like order, wills, this is what you do, this is how you have a second agreement. you get to the senate, having
been a member of the rules committee in the house and now the senate, chairman of the senate for the rules committee, i kept looking and watching the institution and sang, this does not make sense. this is not robert rules of order, house rules of order, what are these? finally allowed to parliamentarians and said to explain to me, how does this work? he said there are only two rules that matter. exhaustion and the unanimous consent. if you get the centers exhausted enough, they will agree unanimously to anything. -- if you get the senators exhausted enough, they will agree unanimously to anything. >> centers can speak as long as their feet will hold them, and if their feet will not hold them, they can speak at their desk. that is the protection of the people's liberties. so long as there is a place where one can speak as loudly as he wishes and as long as his lungs will last, we can be sure that people's liberties will in
door. -- endure. >> it was edward dirksen, republican leader of the senate in the 1950's, who said thinking of the members of the senate, what it reversed what they are, what age -- what a diverse lot they are, what a chore is to homogenize their voices. >> the senate's great days of success have not been because the rules were better or worse but because the quality of the people served during that time, understanding the role of the united states senate, not as a partner with the executive branch or the house, but as a unique place that has a co-equal obligation to make sure people's voices are heard. >> the doors of the senate chamber leak out into what is called the of how the -- the ohio clock corridor, named for the large antique clock
situated across the hall from the chamber. continuing from there, you to record or with a statute to each side. one of the capital's most powerful ways of telling our nation and building history. the hallways and corridors of the capitol are filled with statues of notable americans. some of them were commissioned by the federal government, but most of the art is part of the national story art collection. each state in the nation is allowed to send in two statues for representation in the capital. while some of these names and faces are the building are known to visitors, is in the rotunda where the most recognizable and most visible of the collection reside. because so much of the artwork and rotund it is of a permanent nature and emanates from the 19th century, it is the
statuary in this space that takes the visitors through the 18th, 19th, and than 20 centuries. as new statues come into the capital, it raises the question of how america should be represented in this most visible of spaces in the building. >> the first statue to come into the rotunda was the first statue to come into the capital. it i think it has been agreed statue of thomas jefferson. we go into the rotunda today, and all the statues, most of them, our presidents, but not all. they're mostly presidents. it seems fitting that the rotunda it should be reserved for presidential statues, but i am trying to remember the capital and rotunda without any statues, nothing, the statues anywhere. it is hard to imagine. it is such a powerful presence, the statues and the experience of the capital.
imagine when they brought in that one lone statue of thomas jefferson and put it in the rotunda. must have looked rather lonely. >> lincoln's statue has a history of its own. it was the first batch that the government commission of abraham lincoln. when they look it that statue of abraham lincoln, it was done by a teenaged girl. she was an orphan. she persuaded lincoln to allow her to sketch him in the white house. after he died, she made a plaster model. she brought the plaster model to the rotunda and the senate came out to decide whether a woman to do a great work of art. they said, well, it was not very handsome. somebody else said, he was not a very handsome man. i suppose some visitors think james garfield perhaps does not quite live up to the stature of lincoln or washington, there is
some connection. garfield was a martyred president, the way that abraham lincoln was a martyred president. he did not accomplish very much, but his death really shocked the nation, just as lankan's death shocked the nation. garfield's did as well. >> when i walked in the rotunda and see the bust of martin luther king jr. standing alongside some of our finding father's rigid founding fathers and other political leaders to play their role and have shaped this country, i am moved. i believe martin luther king jr. is the only african- american present in the u.s. capitol. when i bring young people, especially young children to
the rotunda, i point out martin luther king jr. is here. >> the statute and the rotunda of the women's suffrage leaders. susan b. anthony was lobbying for woman suffrage, not feeling like she was being held back by the forces in congress that did not want to change. >> the suffragette statue is another example of how difficult this progressive is -- how difficult this progress is to represent women. a portion of it is not cars, not sculpted. thinking about what a woman's role would be in the future. it looks like they're being cut out of this piece of white marble, whitestone, and there is this piece that is not formed. it is so well thought through is a piece of art. it was a major political struggle to get that moved
upstairs. to the main rotunda where people could actually see it. why is it such a struggle? i think there were some hesitancy to put representatives of the movement on the first floor. i actually cannot give you all the reasons that the architect and the arts commission or so has a debt -- were so hesitant. it is befuddling. >> about the kids from schools all over this country, ford taurus and the rotunda. -- kids from schools all of the country come to see tors of the rotunda. if i was a person in charge of the future of this wonderful building that we are in, i would think it my urgent tasks to find ways to find a richer representation >> one of the
things that we realize here as curators and the members realize, too, is that there is a lack of diversity in our collection. we have a lot of white men. why? in the 19th century, that is a lot of what you saw in terms of the politics of this nation. we have lots of george washington, lots of senators, male senators, but we are also starting to recognize since this is the nation's capital, we need to represent the entire nation. we need to tell the story of everybody in the building, and i think we are doing it. it just takes time. >> george washington, martin luther king, susan b. anthony. >> the ideas of freedom and liberty have spanned every generation. the look at some of the more recent art, there is a different approach to who should be in the capital.
the most recent-should come into the capital, a wonderful statue of a native american who many of us are not familiar with. but the important thing about her addition issue is important to the state of nevada, and she stands there face-to-face with our founding fathers. i think that is wonderful. really tells me that all of us have the same right to responsibility to guide our nation as the founding fathers did. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
>> tonight, c-span2 includes three nights of original documentaries on the iconic homes of the three branches of american government. if you like additional information of the supreme court, the white house, or the u.s. capitol, visit our website at c-span.org and you will find links to public information and history of the three buildings as well as the institutions they house. that is that c-span.org. >> american icons, original documentaries from c-span, now
available on dvd. the unique journey through the iconic homes of the three branches of american government current cd exquisite detail of the supreme court through the eyes of the justices. it go beyond the velvet ropes of public tours and rarely seen spaces of the white house, america's most famous home. and explore the history, art, architecture of the capital, one of america's most symbolic structures. american icons, the three disc cd set is $24.95, plus shipping and handling. order online at c- span.org/store. >> still to come on c-span, a discussion on race in america with reverend jesse jackson. after that, a way to encourage
americans to vote in presidential elections. and threats
against american since the fall of the berlin a discussion now on race in america with the rev. jesse jackson and a number of others. that has been 25 years since the rev. jackson's first presidential campaign. this is part of an event hosted by the congressional black caucus. it is just over two hours. >> thank you very much. i am chair of the congressional black caucus. thank you very much. thank you for joining us for what will surely be a great meeting of minds and spirits and
the sharing of ideas. let me first thank reverend jesse
jackson for being with us. give it or bring jackson around of applause. [applause] your historic run for the white house 25 years ago was an inspiration to so many of us gathered here today. many of us are who we are today because of the trail that you blaze, reverend jackson, thank you. i also like to thank art distinguished panelists for being with us this evening. a professor alan goodman, prof. bleakly from the college of william and mary, howard university law school professor lisa croom, a yale law school professor, and the president and ceo of the national urban league. give our panelists in advance a round of applause. [applause]
and let me just take a moment to introduce members of the congressional black caucus, my colleagues who are here today with us, who were very instrumental in shaping and crafting this evening's program. first of all, let me recognize congresswoman maxine waters, who serves as chair of the housing community opportunities subcommittee, leading the fight for economic justice and security in our country. next, i would like to introduce congressman donald payne from the great state of new jersey, chair of the africa and global health subcommittee and the labor committee, are african scholar in congress. next, i like to introduce and recognize congresswoman dr. donna christiansen from the virgin islands. who has led the health care
reform debate and a big way and make sure that the health care bill included are provisions for health equity and justice for ethnic minorities. thank you again, donna, and for underserved communities. but may also recognize now congressmen al green from the great state of texas, serving on the financial-services committee with congresswoman waters. a voice of vision and strength and clarity of purpose. thank you, congressman green. our first chair of the congressional black caucus who will help moderate this panel is congressmen rev. emanuel cleaver. rev. clifford, from the great state of kansas. let me now say a bit about tonight. it is because really, first of
all, the hard work and the strong voices of people like yourself who have been out there toiling in the vineyard for many years. our panel, reverend jackson, the rainbow coalition, all of our counterparts in state and local government. these issues that we are really addressing in a big way are issues specific to communities of color, the black community, which often go on heard. and because of you, the voiceless have a voice in the halls of congress, local and state governments, and in our institutions of higher education and a threat the american this gives us an historic time to look at the 25 years since reverend jackson's ground breaking run for the presidency.
in 2009, we elected our nation's first african-american president. but even while america has with this monumental change, the persistence of racial and ethnic disparities has proven that laws and regulations continue to be needed to eliminate discrimination and promote equity. some have talked about a post- racial america. as chair of the congressional black caucus, i have been asked over and over again, why do we talk about policies and an agenda that will impact the black community and communities of color? why do we talk about race and racial inequality still in america? and i say, we must talk about race. we must. we must confront the lingering disparities brought about, systemic and institutional racism, even while we continue
to have discourse about race. so tonight, we will engage in an open and frank conversation about the multifaceted roles of race have and continue to play in american life. we will look forward and ask questions. what we need in terms of policy, prescriptions, and agenda? not only in washington, d.c., but at state and local level? this discussion will help the congressional black caucus give opportunities for all, pathways out of poverty. it will inform our agenda as we close out our 2009 year and enter the year 2010. oftentimes, again, we are asked why we talk about race. sometimes, i must say, i found many of you know oftentimes we are accused of planning the race card when we just want to talk about racial justice. it is time to have this
dialogue. needless to say, today it is a bold agenda but one that is necessary. we have always been a conscious of the congress. we began as a bold dream of 30 members and have grown to 42 members strong, with 17 subcommittee chairs and 14 full committee chairs executing the changes that our country so desperately needs. we're joined now by my colleague from wisconsin, congresswoman glenn -- gwen moore, a voice for women, among people. thank you. congresswoman sheila jackson lee, a member of the judiciary committee, from the great state of texas. also, congressmen out hastings, a pet member of the powerful rules committee -- al hastings, a member of the powerful rules committee.
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