tv Washington Journal Peniel Joseph CSPAN June 20, 2022 8:01pm-8:41pm EDT
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giving you a front-row seat to democracy. is joining us, the director for the center for studies of race and democracy at the university of texas. he is the author of the third reconstruction, the struggle for racial justice in the 21st century. what happened on juneteenth? guest: juneteenth is really the day in 1865 when in galveston, the community of black people there heard the news. order number three was three parts. racial slavery is over. african-americans should do work contracts on the plantations or wherever they are. to remain at the places they
are. to not go to the military encampment. black people only listened to the first part. it's really less of a story about black people, the to hunt 50,000 in texas who were toiling on plantations. many had been moved from louisiana during the civil war. the last battle of the civil war outside rounds bill in may 1865. the way we tell the story disempowers black people. they finally heard the news. there is a popular misconception that the emancipation proclamation in 1863 freed black people. it did not. it's an order that impacts the confederacy. there is no general emancipation
where most black people are. there are black people who escaped from southern areas and became contraband. they provide information for the military victory alongside 180,000 black men and women. they served on the front lines. juneteenth is the second american founding. it's where the country stars to become the multiracial democracy that we are today. it sets up a new origin story of democracy. if we have 1776 and thomas jefferson, juneteenth is really the answer to what frederick douglass had questioned in new york, what is the fourth of july?
how could you have an independence holiday during antebellum slavery with the exploitation of black folks, the assault, the murder, the rape, the building of capitalism on the backs of black people that occurred during that time until 1865. host: what happened after 1863 that leads up to order number three in 1865? guest: it's really the civil war. there is no ending of racial slavery. technically, the ratification of the 13th amendment, which ends racial slavery. we end racial slavery, soon after we start the system that
is going to lead to mass incarceration in the 20th and 21st centuries. that's why what's so interesting, the civil war which sometimes people don't want to talk about or they call it a war between states. it's a war about the emancipation of slavery. that's the key to the whole thing. the only way emancipation could happen is through the deceit -- defeat and surrender of the confederacy. that's what happens. appomattox courthouse in virginia, robert e. lee surrenders to ulysses s grant. at the time, we know how the story played out. at the time, although lincoln
had been assassinated in april, people are unsure what's going to happen. there are republicans in congress led by thaddeus stevens who want to expropriate land for the newly freed women and men who want to punish the south, who want to imprison confederate traders who committed treason. all of that does not happen. at the time, it's limbo. it's a space where anything is possible. for a few years, that's going to be true. we are going to see the rise of lack wealth, dignity. a renewed united states south.
host: when was juneteenth first celebrated and how? guest: it was first celebrated the next year in galveston in 1866, and other parts of texas. it's a jubilee day. food, parades, barbecues. there's a tradition of having red colored food, that's connected to west actor -- africa. red is the color that speaks of the resiliency of black people. when we think about the first celebration, in places like east texas and houston, black people are going to get together, freed black people and by what is now
known as emancipation park, so they could celebrate juneteenth. host: what is the significance of it being recognized as a federal holiday today, this monday. it fell on a sunday yesterday. guest: it's extraordinarily significant on its own and because of what's happening presently in our country. the singular significance is it's the only american holiday that recognizes racial slavery. the fact it racial slavery is key to the united states and american capitalism, american democracy, the wealth that was created here. also systems of inequality and liberation. on its own, it's massively important recognition.
against the backdrop of 2020 and the murder of george floyd and breonna taylor, the protests, now with the january 6 hearings and the anti-critical race theory legislation that has essentially band the teaching of history behind juneteenth, it's more important than ever that we have this federal recognition that forces and compels and inspires millions of people to reckon with the legacy of juneteenth, the legacy of racial slavery and the afterlife of racial slavery in our own time. we've all experienced at the last two years. since may of 2020, the death of george floyd, the whole country has experienced this reckoning
with racial slavery and systemic racism that is central to juneteenth. host: we want to invite our viewers to join in. for those celebrations as well, tell us how you celebrate. eastern and central part of the country, (202) 748-8000. mountain pacific, (202) 748-8001 . i want to show our viewers what the president had to say last year before he made it a federal holiday. >> this is a really important moment in our history. by making juneteenth a federal holiday, all can feel the power of this day and learn from it and celebrate progress and grapple with the distance we've
come and the distance we still have to travel. a few weeks ago, great nations don't ignore their most painful moments. great nations don't ignore the most painful moments. they don't ignore those moments from the past. they embrace them. great nations don't walk away. we come to terms with the mistakes we made. remembering those moments, we begin to heal. the truth is it's not simply enough to commemorate juneteenth. after all, emancipation of enslaved americans didn't mark the end of our work to deliver on the promise of equality. it marked the beginning. host: when you listen to the
president, what stands out to you? guest: i think the line about great nations confronting the most painful parts of their history is very important. i think about germany and its awful history of genocide against jews during world war ii. what they've done is confront that legacy. they've done the opposite of what we've done. they don't monuments to nazis all around their environment. quite the opposite. they don't try to -- they try to confront what happened and realized they were wrong politically and they vowed to never let that happen. the reason juneteenth is so
important, we live in a country that acts as if racial slavery never happened, that the racial caste system that slavery creates and embeds and amplifies never existed. the politics of dehumanization against black people that allowed slavery to persist did not exist. we are to use to embracing big lies. it's not just the big lie of donald trump and the gop of the 21st century. it's the big lie of american democracy. there is no united states of america without the backbreaking labor that black people did. the fact that black bodies were monetized by wall street, they were monetized in the caribbean. they were monetized throughout the united states and globally.
unless we can admit that, we've got to teach that. that was part of the lesson of the 1619 project, the new origin story. that was partially embraced and inspired a backlash that still wants us to be afraid of this history. despite being afraid of that history that we found ourselves in the political divisions that we continue to have. they continue to persist in america. host: anna, you are up first. good morning to you. caller: thank you for this. yesterday, i wanted to talk about juneteenth. it just didn't happen. i am 73 years old. i grew up in east texas. east texas was one of those
places where juneteenth was celebrated. the state of texas was going out of business. they were getting ready to be bankrupt. the two years going on, blacks couldn't get out. they couldn't get out of texas. then you had jim billy's brother. he would go into freed states and tell people they had good jobs in texas. you didn't have newspapers going around saying we are all free. that did not happen. what we came up with is
juneteenth was celebrated with families. they would farm the land up until noon. they would go home and take the kids, everybody. we had as kids growing up the best time of our lives. we didn't celebrate the fourth of july because it wasn't about us. juneteenth was about us texans. when you talk about juneteenth, people talk about juneteenth. they don't really know what juneteenth really was for lacks in texas. sharecropping, we owned our land for 150 years. we are still on it. in longview, texas, we don't get rid of our land like that.
these blacks didn't know what was going on -- we did know what was going on. the history of juneteenth when they come on these channels. we celebrated juneteenth as long as i've been alive for 73 years. it was about family. host: can i ask you, do you remember as a kid and over the years what the conversation was like around the significance of this day? caller: yes. they taught us to respect who we are. and what people have given up. that was part of our need history. that was taught by a gentleman,
ned williams. he was mentored by frederick douglass and george washington carver. he had no education. he learned to read on the sharecroppers. he rot back to ned williams the education. and what was important to us. poll tax receipts. voting. right now, people talk about reparations. i don't care about reparations. i care about our kids learning to vote and their rights. the man before you, he did make a statement about we need to do better and not let the government take care of us. we don't vote. in texas, it's the worst voting area. what used to be some of the best voting. i have to disagree with sheila
jackson lee. host: hold on the line. do you have any questions? guest: i think the idea of family, she talks about her family growing up. she talks about growing up in texas and her memories of making food with the family, having the discussion with the family. i think family is hugely important when we think about juneteenth and emancipation date. in texas, it's especially important. i live in texas now. black texans have not gotten there do in terms of the history of civil rights and american history.
whether we talk about freedom towns in texas from the 19th century, all the way through the civil rights era. it's not just in big cities. in rural areas, deep rural areas, washington county, other parts of texas were very instrumental from slavery and reconstruction all the way to the present. they expanded our boundaries of citizenship and dignity. host: how do you feel about reparations? guest: i support reparations. i think for those of us who have been privileged enough to study american history and black history, that's hugely key. voting rights are important. i agree with the last caller on that. what reparations provides a
context for the economic power that black people have had stolen from them. part of the darkside of this history that president biden alluded to is the fact that black labor and wealth was stolen multiple times since 1776. it's both during slavery from 1776 to 1865 and 1865 all the way until the late 1960's. you have a system of theft of black economic power. that comes in the form of mass incarceration to the theft of land. two residential and public
school segregation to the second world war. half a million less african-americans are allowed to be inducted into the military than their proportionate numbers would suggest. so many people didn't get access to the g.i. bill or federal loans for homes. it's extraordinary what happened to black people, not just over the last 150 years but since the birth of the united states. the only weight when we think about providing economic parity would be through reparations physically by they called for reparations in the 21st century. i would suggest everybody read it.
it's extraordinary book, it's very important. when we think about reparations, we have to think about it in multiple ways. federal, state, local. we need right now for proportional representation for black people across not just corporate america but also in terms of venture capital, private equity, hedge funds. we are not 12% of that. we are not 12% of the wealth being made. i'm talking wealth and not just incomes. until we get to that 12% in the boardroom, not just the nonprofit boardrooms, but all boardroom spaces. corporate america, venture capital, higher education, being 12% of the startups that they
actually fund. that means we would be better represented among the unicorns. we have a lot of work to do. it's a both. we should protect and amplify voting rights. we need reparations. the deeper you study this time, some of us have the luxury of doing this for a lifetime and for living. host: good morning to you. caller: good morning. i wanted to get his first name so i could follow his writing. i'm really impressed by your guest this morning. host: peniel joseph at the university of texas austin. caller: peniel joseph? guest: it's a biblical name.
genesis 31 is where jacob wrestles with the angel all night. it's a big time patient name. i am a proud haitian immigrant. i'm a native new yorker. caller: speaking of haiti, this get to the comment i will make. i really appreciate your nuanced understanding. you are going to have this. i am from western european descent. for me, it's more challenging to really get in the shoes of the person who is descended from slavery. to understand the economics of it. i think that's critical. i applaud your understanding.
it's helping me to understand it. that comes with some redbaiting. if you say the words political economy, people want to call you associate -- socialist. that's wave disguising racism. guest: what is so interesting about what you just said, harvard university released a report, their relationship with slavery. it's a report that shows them trying to do some repair. it talks about the university being implicated in only black people. some of their biggest funders were people who were slave traders and made their money not only in the domestic slave trade, the brutal caribbean slave trade in jamaica and cuba
and haiti and other places. it is so interesting. we think about this idea of reparations and you have political economy. we haven't wanted to face dass i think -- i think this is a global problem. france has their problem england has their own version of this. but we haven't wented to say is slavery is what provides us with the iphone. it provides us with zoom. it provides us with a 401k. the way in which the world was able to build wealth so quickly during modernity is one hunter percent connected to slavery. it's connected to slavery not just the exploitation of 4
million african-americans in the united states. it's connected to the way in which different financial interests utilized slavery as a system to monetize. just like we short stocks today and we invest in certain parts of the economy, people used in slave people for that. these are all facts. this is not interpretation. we have to understand that. if we want to reckon with slavery, brown university has done it. georgetown has done it. we have to look at every single facet of our society. investment companies, so many places we think of just the blue-chip investment company,
they get their start globally being connected to a network and system of slavery. a great book is empire of cotton. river of dark dreams by walter johnson. the pound of flesh. there is so much. there is so much here to explore. i think people should try to understand. this is our history. we can't think of this as them. this is us. i think dr. king was great in this when he talked about revolution of values. near the end of his life, he talked about reconstruction. malcolm x talked about these things. he was talking about truth, justice, then reconciliation.
we can't get there unless we confront this painful part of our history. host: you mentioned harvard university and what they are trying to do. in 2021, they had $53 billion in endowment. are they paying reparations? guest: they are setting aside money, they are trying to engage in repair. they have vowed to set aside $100 million to try and repair what was done, including making new coalitions and collaborations. they are not the only school that needs to do this. i teach at the university of texas, which has a history with racism. it was founded in 1883 and it was a segregated school. what do we do for the black test and's -- texans who for decades
and decades were disallowed from becoming longhorns. what do we do with that? we need to repair that. it's not just a repair, we will all pray together. i will pray with you. we need to have economic resources. money and finances are huge part of this. so much wealth was stolen and taken away from african-americans. there was a narrative that gas lit the entire nation by saying black people who worked the hardest the longest for the least were lazy, were criminals, were bad people. it's important to face all that. we have to face that together. harvard is trying to do some repair. they might not be calling it reparations. they are trying to do some
repair for their being implicated in racial slavery. host: we will go to kentucky. it morning. caller: thank you. it sounds like you read a lot of books. the one you said you never read is the bible. the bible says when someone steals from you, you need to forgive them. i don't know if you are to do that. i don't think it was directly stolen from you. what about the money you want for reparations, who is that going to be stolen from? do you know what slavery is? it's when others take away your god-given rights. that was totally done to the blacks.
slavery is stealing from you that you force to pay for something else. that is slavery. that is stealing. stealing the slavery. that's all we do in this country. we forcefully steal and give it to others. we want to give it to who we think should have it more than you. host: can you respond? guest: in terms of biblical interpretation, there are parts of the bible to talk about forgiveness, even when you go to the new testament and you look at jesus in the temple of the moneylenders, he is ringing the sword and the shield in terms of trying to move out exploitation. he wants a reckoning. when we read about the apostles
and their recollections of jesus, he was a prophet of transformation who brought the world to its knees because he is so interested in justice and reparations for those who been left behind. it depends on how we are going to interpret that. i do believe in forgiveness. you cannot have forgiveness without truth and justice. a lot of this is in public. when we think about that justice, we have to come to some kind of financial repair for all that's been stolen. just because things were stolen, we can't say or were going to have reparations and that will be stolen in the future. we have some kind of policy for safeguards.
state and local municipalities are engaged in discussions about reparations. the theft and brutality occurred at the level of the intimate and the expanse. host: let's hear from pat in texas. caller: good morning. you do have your firm beliefs. i'm sorry, i have to agree with the professor that was on this morning. i'm not a deep thinker. i do think slavery was horrible. it will always be horrible. i do have a question. if this is such a systemic
racist country, where millions trying to get in across our border right now. why aren't millions trying to leave? guest: i think one of the things we have to understand when we think about the story of america is our country has never been one thing. the country is also offering opportunity and unbelievable transformational opportunity for millions of people. those things can exist at the same time. the country is homophobic and trans-phobic, it is deeply misogynist and sexist against women. at the same time, women and queer folks will find unbelievable opportunity here. we are a rainbow. we are multiracial democracy. it's been called a teaming nation.
we've always been multiple things all at once. sometimes, very positively, sometimes to our detriment. saying the united states is a systemically racist country does not mean that people are saying it is a bad country or one thing or the other. we have to be able to be critical enough thinkers, this is why education is important. lifelong education. i'm a big believer in people being self-taught learners, people like malcolm x, people who taught themselves. we have to understand the greatest act of patriotism is to criticize the country you love and you are from. i am from the united states. i was born and raised in new york city. i love this country. i criticize this country. i am honest enough to talk about
the good parts and the ugly and tragic parts. that's what troop patriotism is. patriotism is not saying everything is fine while the car heads off a cliff and you kill your whole family in the car. it is saying there is a cliff, let's stop the car, let's look at the map and get these kids to safety. that is patriotism. host: peniel joseph is the director at the center of race and democracy at the university of texas austin. you can follow him on twitter. >d
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