tv After Words CSPAN February 19, 2016 8:58pm-9:55pm EST
after the war it was a fantastic place. a girl she new from the university of alabama was married to zeus sims. i don't know if the book would have been published before there war or 15 years later. >> host: there is an incident in the book she got so frustrated with writing it s she actually through it out the window or almost did. >> guest: she told a group of high school kids she was on the third draft of the book and had been working for two and a half years. realize, truman capote is famous. and she had been trying to tell a story for eight or nine years. the third draft, tired of it, sitting at the typewriter and realizes she is stick of this book. there is nothing else she can
say. i go through this period when the words look like english. they seem to be english but they don't make sense. she walks over to window. it is snowing outside. raises the window and takes what will be come one of the most poplar books and throws it in the alley. then she calls her publisher and said she quits. she said writing a novel is like building a white house matchsticks. she lost the desire to do it. and someone who has been through it said that is not your book. for the last two years i have been lep helping you. this is a collaborative project and it doesn't belong to you. it belongs to us. she went out and picked up the
stories. usually there was a crime associated. here to adults with her helping him. she was coming off of her book white hot. >> two of the great books of the 20th century. >> thank you for the conversation. >> thank you. it has been a pleasure. looking forward to the book. see if the real-life ties between her life. >> thank you so much. >> harper lee pulitzer prize-winning author of to kill a mockingbird died at the age of 89 in monroeville, alabama. she recently published her 2nd book.
tomorrow book tv will feature a discussion with her former neighbor author of the mockingbird next door. >> a book that a lot of people feel a personal attachment to. they appreciated as a classic novel. maybe there's a little bit of a guide to living for some people. and characters that a lot of people feel attached to. >> 130 eastern on c-span2 book tv. >> c-span coverage of the presidential candidates continues this week. leading up to the south carolina gop primary in the nevada democratic caucuses. live coverage starts on saturday at 7:30 p.m. eastern with candidate speeches and your reaction to the results on c-span, c-span radio and c-span.org.
>> next princeton professor joins us to talk about the state of black america and his book democracy and black. this is about an hour. >> proud to be here. professor, welcome. as my mother would say back home. we have some time to talk. of course you have written a new book that we are going to talk about, but it is always fascinating to viewers and certainly to many how you got from mississippi all the way to princeton university. talk a little bit about
yourself. >> am a country boy who made it big. african-american postmen hired. >> postman hired. >> a big job. >> that was a big job. he moved us from one side of town to the other side. third african-american family that moved to this last neighborhood on the help. we went into a better school system, much more just one. didn't have many distractions. and integrated school. the kind of black clip. >> worked in the shipyard. the paper mill. used to call it the pokey plan.
having to deal with periodic layoffs. wonderful teachers. my sister graduated valedictorian. and i wanted to leave home, very contentious relationship. and. >> sounds tough. >> he was tough. >> tough love. >> with everything i am is because of that. and so i went to a science program a lot of the application. >> your on tv. >> i know. shows you how beautiful. i went into the office of the dean of admission the summer science program. going to convince you. and for 30 to 4030 to 40 minutes i sat there and told him why he should admit. >> fascinating.
>> a greyhound bus. from that moment on. >> when did you know that you wanted to be a scholar? wind and the idea of teaching and being a scholar really grasp you? did you get there after a long, winding road? >> you know, mother told me osborne the pencil. that is the 1st thing. can i get a job at the shipyard? but i actually realized that i wanted to be a professor, a philosophy professor and we were -- theologian trained.
took an interest in me and i remember it would say something and he would just put his head on the table. >> the relationship, faculty member. >> a close friend. the thing that was so beautiful about it, i did not have to navigate a negotiate how i got there, whether or not i should be there. locked into the boys home going into thurmond all. everything around me just a friend who i was even though was coming from a working-class family. post office is a big job. my mother cleaned toilets commander 1st. she was in the 8th grade. i got stuck with it. and it was at morehouse, something was putting you. even as i was struggling to
integration is not really a reality. and more importantly in addition to talk about something in the book, value. we have the achievement gap in wealth gap. underneath it all is something that is much more fundamental. >> subscribe to that. >> it's the way in which the country has been built. was go back to the example. when we move from the sides of the westside i remember my dadit was moving out
stuff in the house while is eight years old and i get the keys and said i was playing with my taco truck. and then i have my neighbor say stop playing with that. the grandma truck until monday, vietnam vet, worked hard. >> and it. >> his eyes darkened. typically that is the story of american racism. big house on the hill. wounded by some mean-spirited adult and asked to spend his entire life working. the interesting thing is at eight years old i knew we were moving from the black side of town of the white. i had an experience went to school, my sister and i just
as the schools in new orleans integrated. the school went to was about three blocks past the dividing wall invited several of us to go play at the playground which was about a half a block away. and after we were there about 15 minutes mother came and ran assault by saying no, you shouldn't be here. you don't belong here, and if you don't go home you are
going to be in trouble with your mom. of course at that age i interpreted it as i was doing something wrong not understanding are known that she was basically saying black kids don't belong. this is post civil rights act. years later you get the realization that you are being run out of the place where you have every right to be. those experiences sometimes are tough. what did i say to you? did you harbor a sense of anger or befuddlement? how did you reconcile that experience? >> all of a sudden you find out maybe the boy you are playing with committee may be a racist. and the thing that came out, my dad really strong
personality command he wasn't happy command he always made it clear to us that we were value. that whatever these people said that nothing, and his rage in response to it signaled to us that we should not abide it. so i remember when we moved to the neighbors in the back shop that window out with a pellet gun and i doubt responded with a 12 gauge shotgun, she back here again. that was the model. when we think of racism you think about that moment of injury. what i'm thinking about as much broader. i always knew something was different about me as a
child. the environment that i grew up in also every time my neighborhood flooded. foreign to the westside. our sidewalks were paved. our baseball field. >> no backstop. >> the schools were good, the houses were small. it was just the icing on the cake. is built into the very environment. the value behind it manifests itself. what and how does it manifests? the concept is institutional
issues, challenges are for people to grasp because it can be in front of them and they don't see. >> one is a story and one is a tragic reality. my son is now at brown university. majoring in urban studies in africa. the rich neighborhood. police cruiser drives by. >> it's a quick u-turn, pulls up on the sidewalk. histamine see with a flashlight commit seminar. my sense is doing an assignment. the park closes at 930.
yes. it's only 730. comes around with his hand on his weapon of the park closes at 930. my son puts his hands up and says officer comeau we don't want any trouble. that is one story. the other stories flint michigan. you have a community devastated by deindustrialization loss of manufacturing, automobile industry and now they are dealing with the fact that the 57 poisoned. and what does that mean? somebody made an economic decision not to upgrade the pipes as opposed to going. made a decision because they view these people as somehow less. so who has access to
opportunity for every one opportunity african-americans get a white person will get 45. in terms of social network. >> talk about the value and why he wrote the book. i read the book. what is the take away the water reader of this book? >> we are at the precipice. we have experienced the extraordinary joy and symbolic significance, but as you know more than anyone the reality that every turn.
these young folks who came of age were trying to figure out. here we have all this economic devastation not only of the last eight years in the last two or three decades, and so i wanted to write a book to say that we need to fundamentally reimagine politics because the stakes are so high. we are coming off of eight years in the 1st african-american president. will have to speak to black suffering in the way that is radically different. different. the book is really about dealing with the paradox people talking about the great recovery given all the devastation of our committee and the fact that her babies are being shut down the street.
>> i want to take you back. so in january of 09 there was a self-congratulatory narrative being created that quote unquote the country had somehow transformed itself into this post racial >> no more excuses. >> it manifested, organizations can close the doors, discontinue there work, no longer relevant. your community as one of its own in the white house. at that point in time what was your sense of what was your reaction to that thought process?
>> i remember this very well. i remember watching cnn and i remember bill bennett sang on election night no more excuses. and they said, zero, my god. you are going to have to be diligent, alert, more politically mature. and at that point i thought, i remember saying this to my wife, experiencing the joy of watching president obama in chicago and hyde park, we are in for some dark times. is they're going not only question urban league, hbcus, they are going to end have questioned any attempt to speak specifically to the suffering of black communities. what we witnessed, and you have seen this to your work
is how difficult it has been >> at the time i immediately believed that the post racial was a spin move. >> absolutely. >> being perfected that was false and overblown because historically the ascension of the advent of the 1st african-american any institution or instance whether it is jackie robinson and baseball, the 1st african-american in the class my father was in, government that there was this immediacy of change. in fact, the corollary is
true, traction. and an irrational fear the somehow things were going to hell in a handbasket. so not only false but i thought that the objective for america should not be what i call post racial. it should be a multicultural democracy that function for everyone. somehow you can get past some aspect of history. so in that sense you have to concede a couple of things. when the president took over the matter who that would have been they were facing
700,000 jobs being lost per month, a banking debacle in the financial crisis which was more extreme than any in american history. the decline and almost allies of the american automobile industry, and in many respects black people were suffering, bothbut black people were not the only people suffering. so in that context with those facts how would you evaluate? i mean,i mean, in terms of -- and i would start by saying what did you expect? barack obama, january 202009 >> well, i wish -- let me
try to answer. so part of what -- what did i expect. >> i also was hopeful. there is something about that speech, seeing him and hyde park but at the same time i understood the forces that were put. what, i mean, by that will remain president obama everything we wanted to be. the antiwar folks made in the antiwar candidate. african-americans just wanted an african-american president. we did not really look at his politics.
and you see what he said. plain and simple. he is not some lefty, not someone -- he is not on the left. he is a central democrat. and so part of what i wanted was a progressive agenda. do what you have to do to stop the economy, but was reorient, change the frame so that everyday ordinary working people could have a chance to not only dream dreams but to make those dreams reality. that would mean we would have to change the phenomenon that we have seen to change the economic philosophy and so many ways
so that we could begin to emphasize. how do we get home ownership to be such were folks are not subject to predatory lending? how do we checked the financial position of the economy? what is interesting is that president obama understands what it means, the level of inequality. so on his watch my wealth is 13 times that of blacks. on his watch child poverty is increased. the 1st time in history was keeping data. >> the black unemployment.
>> let's talk about that. a significant portion being african-american. on his watch and please, happy, satisfied with the status of the economy and the conditions of black joblessness, not at all. but i do think it is important to recognize that on his watch lack of employment would come down significantly in that the simple, if you take the affordable care act by itself, it has done more than any other single gesture. >> i grant you this. at the height of the great
black depression. in some places it was a 15 percent, 16 percent. and now we have to be wary. but it is about 9.5 percent. at the height of the great recession unemployment was at 95. i'd six or something like that. they greatest economic calamity. we are still at a level. we don't want to take that away. we don't want to take the affordable care act away. i do know that there are certain moments, there is a
way in which president obama narrates the story of black freedom struggle which narrows it the combination is election, moments when there is a sense of which the more radical amendment gets read as us being irresponsible the 50th anniversary of the march on washington, narrative of american progress and exceptionalism. happened over the course of his presidency, over and beyond the actual politics. a narrowing of our tradition. i was think about before that what you think about that period. black association. black pan african, naacp,
international vibrancy of black politics vibrancy of black politics. that was also the period where hundreds of people, african-americans had no right to vote. the politics of protest organization, voluntary association were necessitated by the reality of those times that you could not participate. look at the tradition of woodrow wilson getting a prominent black publisher out of his office in the white house or when teddy roosevelt invited booker t. washington, he was roundly criticized. i can see whether it was the urban league, naacp,
counseling african affairs. we had a spectrum in our committee fromcenter to left, but it was all operating outside of what was then considered the political mainstream. could vote, cannot hold office because we were at the tail end of a complete dismantling. the last black delegate attended the republican national convention. so i do concede that, but i also think about the role of the president. and the role barack obama's responsibility in all for the african-american
community. first black president. also, president of the country where african-americans are 12 or 13 percent of the population. also, a president elected by this coalition. african-americans, latinos. carries the majority cares the majority of the african-american hispanic. in the south are you and i are from he is not get more than 13 or 14 percent of the vote and in the state. comes the power understanding that you have been if you will the inheritor of this multiracial multidimensional coalition.
then what would have been your counsel and advice? >> that is a hard one. >> but that is the question. >> going back to what we talked about earlier, i think i wanted the president to be bold. change the frame. if we half to lift our votes and fdr managing dixiecrat comanaging southern racist, we have to lift all boats because we don't want to trigger white fear. as long as we do that we allow that stuff to stay in place. as long as we engage in a practical politics of trying to avoid what is really at the heart of the problem command that is the value,
govern in such a way, engage in there 1st offices can speak in such a way to let you know i am not the manchurian candidate. >> for president obama there were very few if any role models. all of whatwhat say command i have said this to reporters and others, the best example of the trajectory can be seen in the reaction to the 1st african-american mayors of los angeles, atlanta, detroit, new orleans. it is the same thing, expectation, backlash and very challenging navigation. difficulty. their enemies came after them and wanted to regain control of city hall.
and so president obama in many respects really had no model really had no one, this is the 1st african-american to hold this extremely high office. i think that in fairness to the reality of the situation the waters are so uncharted, particularly in the early days, and the president was doing with the deep and difficult crisis. i have always been a component of targeted at specific. okay. and i do think in that vein
moving the administration economic advisers not direction is far more difficult than it should have been. i would say that. this is the other question. what i thought was interesting, you talk about the president, the speaker and mitch mcconnell are not there, not mentioned in the question is, were you surprised by the reaction to the president's election institutionally within the congress and within what we will call the republican coalition? >> remember, i was not
surprised. and i want to be clear. i am not laying the blame. i liken him to a melville in confidence selling hope and change. he is not alone. bill clinton is the same, jimmy carter is the same. >> can it be done? the office of the president the place the radical changes can happen? this movement pushed him and preston. >> i think the bully pulpit of the presidency can open space for that very kind of
movement. you are seeing that now. at the end of the day we have to confront the reality that obama is on his way home and we're going to have to imagine how to address the circumstance on the ground that we know for sure and what we know for sure is the previous ways of engaging in black politics have changed fundamentally because of the last eight years the way in which we have engage the white house, the way in which we have engaged issues publicly because some of us have had to walk a tightrope of how to engage in a critical press without giving fodder to the right. knowing all along that communities are suffering. the opening of these grassroots movements,
whether it is black lives matter responding to the epidemic of our babies being murdered or whether it was the together, you know, taking the notion of doctor king. every -- is taking out local oriented approach to politics and organizing a broad-based coalitions challenge. >> consciousness. talk about black lives matter. you know, i was thinking the black power movement of the 1960s which was a conscience political economic and cultural. however, the victories of the 1960s, the sources of public policy victory
streets, strategy for the ballot box. >> if you went on the ground you had new voices represented by black lives matter, but you also had the churches, naacp, urban league, part of a broader coalition in response to ferguson, now going to become an urban league center for disengagement. what i pushed back on his the notion that a new movement is in opposition to traditional versus being complementary because the question is consciousness
movements, do they morph into something more substantial? >> i'm going to paraphrase. democracy is not about. at its heart democracy is changing the context from which power operates. bring it out. we have a form of black leadership in which you do your work, go back they're the borders of those darkrooms. lord knows what would happen but the idea of a robust form of democratic where everyday ordinary people outsourcing network with the
imagine robust politics requires that you represent the voice. people in the community and on the street need to engage. in one way, shape, form. trying to think about how the power dynamic has changed when spectators. this custodial model of leadership. attend be much more of the sign. >> absent in different places, then an elected official before that was an
of that going forward? the generation of elected officials are doing their job. what more is needed? >> and aggressive agenda to respond to those opportunities. dictation, jobs. focus, laser focus on those three areas and understand the privatization closing the public schools across the country wherethat happened in your home beloved city in new orleans, detroit, philadelphia, chicago, four out of five fail within the 1st five years.
and our children are not being educated. what does this mean? in his people call for more community policing. >> if you think of it in president obama's context, the accomplishments, the affordable care act, .-dot frank, regulatory and the economic recovery that is called stimulus, all of that took place in the 1st two years. when congress shifted all of a sudden there was a proverbial wall and begins that very few things can happen. to a great extent what you are suggesting, we had a meeting with him, reverend
sharpton this is the meeting after that. the 2nd meeting, searched in: preston. we wanted the jobs bill, walked out and said i'm going to do jobs bill. a jobs bill was in fact introduced. it went nowhere. did not get a lot of publicity. the president talked about it in a joint session of congress, but we got no movement. and clarity if there was a 2nd book, it would be the opposition to really, really tell the story. and what the intensity, the magnitude of the money that
really went into the effort to create the tea party, to take back control of the congress, far ranging. >> republican obstructionism of the fact that the congress driven by the insanity of the tea party of the freedom caucus, i can see that up front. what i am arguing for something much more fundamental, put forward radicalization of what democracy is in this country. i understand practical politics. reaching across the aisle cannot go bald. what if it is the case? houma. the berlin wall goes up.
again, the book is not about president obama. because there is an economic philosophy that governs this country that has produced disposable people. what we need 20 years from now they were on 50 percent of the wealth. what we need is a revitalization of democratic politics. it has been difficult because of republican opposition and because of our failure to put forward a radical democratic vision, the least of these. so what has happened as a result, what constitutes
legitimate political dissent in this country. what i'm calling for is a revolution, change how we view government by changing our demands. we have to get rid of this false story of big government is bad, understand. everything downstream. republicans taking care of state legislatures and the like, challenges view of government and understand that while we ask and demand of government changes. we have to change our view of black people. why people don't matter more than anybody else. controversial sentence. we're going to really reach
comeau what does that mean? when you have the idea. see this all across the country. communities are feeling vulnerable, and there is an assumption that the vulnerability is a result of big government taking things that they earned and giving it to people who did not. so if racial equality in this country is a zero-sum game will never win. and the only way we can achieve that is folks have to challenge this idea that there is a correlation. gravitate to the narrative.
and so you have people feeling anxious. they are pointing fingers, and politics, the art of politics is also to an election. because if you can't when, best laid plans. what politicians do today more so than in the past because of the advent of technology, access to public opinion, more access. so what you see today is shaping how people feel, how politicians talk.