tv Marcia Chatelain Franchise CSPAN November 9, 2021 8:25pm-9:09pm EST
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sponsors. [applause] before begin we ask you to silence your cell phones and turn off camera flashes will be taking questions that is a my care because c-span is recording she is the author of franchise the golden arches in black america and she is in conversation thank you ladies. thank you all for coming today can you hear me? it is such a beautiful day outside. going to be much more interesting to be in this room
as we dig into this important part of history. thrilled to be here professor of history at georgetown university the citation read this way one reason going to read it out loud is there was not a big luncheon or anything this year because of coated. i don't know i am going to do it the golden arches and black
america the complicated role the fast food industry plays in african-american communities grace and capitalism have been intertwined with the fight fate of black businesses that's a smart book and a work of history is way what you know about the golden arches the count of the happy meal digs into an important story of how this purveyor of food actually shapes political
self site girls growing up in the great migration. here we are where you grew up. what was your first mcdonald's experience? >> i just want to say thank you for everyone for joining us. thank you so much for this invitation having so many after school in this neighborhood i could count the number of places i want to return to that because mcdonald's for me was at the center of my budding social life as a young adult in the 80s that is what you did. there is no kind of. [inaudible]
at the site of her social life people of the same age. we could c all meet at a mcdonald's. >> i really saw it as an everre present part of my social world and also the place where i could articulate my independence and had two distinct places. one in its underwriting of so much of the black cultural life of chicago which is how i started thinking about this book. if you think about some of the activities my own participation in a wgn broadcast know your heritage. all of this is underwritten by black mcdonald's operators. in addition growing up in the
80s and early 90s a lot of first corporate job opportunities for students of color, mcdonald's was up there with abbott labs, xerox, corporations and providing that entry point for a lot of black college student. so in many ways, being in chicago mcdonald means little bit of a different thing than other cities. we know mick donald was launched in the night franchise started. it really is a story of the franchise industry. so how did that work for mcdonald's? >> help mcdonald's grows out of southern california. one of the things i talk about in the book is only think about help people talk and think about mcdonald's they frame as an incredible story
of innovation which it is. getting so many people food so quickly is a really big deal for the food industry in the 1940s and 50s. for my purposes i like to think about in terms of what does it say about america's racial history? whatat does it say our own businesses that grow from the highway system which is the source of terror and anxiety whator we think about the suburbanization of fast food and communities that had all sorts of legal means for the moment of franchising becomes a growth opportunity forit business it's really exciting it's a moment in which you don't have to have a lot of business experience or have had owned a business to have it big.
to be really successful but informal education which is one of the promises of american industry. people were in love with the idea of franchising because someone has done all of the hard work. but the star is you have to assume the risk and liability and do an incredible amount of work to make it work. >> of saint thinking about chicago great story. can you talk about the first black franchise owner? >> mcdonald's was founded and 46 it moved to chicago with ray croc. he is incredibly ambitious. he says we can have a mcdonald's in every bedroom community. but africanom americans do not get an entry point into
franchising until 68. it is immediately after king's assassination. i think for us having grown up in a world in which martin luther king jr. is a hero it's very easy to not know or misunderstand after his assassination, it does work over the past three decadesti that martin luther king is a hero. in 1968 after the uprising in reaction to his death, after this consternation about thee direction of the civil rights movement there is an incredible encouragement for black owned business under black capitalism. the first african-american to franchise a mcdonald's. he is in that moment where there's federal pressure mcdonald's gets involved in it
knowing there's a number of white franchise owners who do not want to do business in black communities anymore. they are incredibly chilled by the events after king's assassination and mcdonald's starts refuting black franchise owners to serve predominately black communities. what they discover very soon after it is very profitable for number of reasons. very profitable. for some it's a very good points you make and goes back to franchising for what they soon discover is called black stores the time. that black stores healed very good profits because they are often located in communities where there's not competing businesses. market research shows african-american consumers go to mcdonald's more often than their white counterparts. but the franchise owner does not necessarily see all of the profits. very early on intervenes for a
baseline program so black franchise owners can keep their stores. provide 75, 76 there's a sense this is something that can work. if you put black franchise owners in black communities you not only take advantage of the changing landscape but you have a really loyal customer base because people feel likeed they are patronizing a black owned business for this is incredibly important for the politics of the time. >> then it becomes a trade-off do we want mcdonald's or a community center? can you explain how that was interwoven together the power structure? >> one of the things that happen as mcdonald's is becoming more present in places like chicago,
cleveland, los angeles, philadelphia, portland, oregon is community groups are trying to decide if they like mcdonald's or not. this is something i really wanted to talk about in the book, a world in which mcdonald was not a presupposition. i do this often has anyone in this a audience never been to a mcdonald's or doesn't know what it is? only twice i have two people in the dozens of events i've had her own this book said they've never eaten mcdonald's. they both were raised by deacon nutritionist. [laughter] they do not know what it is. but everyone knew what it was. there is a period of time this is not a fixture in every community. as mcdonald's is growing in terms of its presence in black communities, community groups are starting to question whether or not they will contribute to the health and wellness of the people around it. there are all of these different protests people are saying mcdonald's is going to
be here it has to be black franchise. if mcdonald's is going to be or they have to contribute to the free breakfast program run by the black panther party for self-defense if mcdonald's is going to be without help pay for a park. this is the early morning before corporate social responsibility had its playbook mcdonald's is trying to decide if they should do these things or not. some of these interactions are so mind blowing from the perspective of 2021 there's a whole office of people telling you how to not sound racist or say something. but in 78 -- 79 even up to the 1980s everything is still on the table. i think that is part of the history i find most fascinating. how do we set the standards and the template for how corporations interact with communities? >> that is so interesting.
in the book you argue the government really supports these work drivers can find them easily. and other ways how has society been complicit in this expansion of mcdonald's? >> one of the things we see during this time. it is very strange in 2020 to hear of the rhetoric being recycled. one of the reasons why there's so much unrest in the 1960s is not because people want more businesses necessarily. they want the fundamentalor things you need for a good quality of life. they are equal housing, good schools for your children access to healthcare, jobs that pay more than starvation wages per the issues are very
clear but if people have their own businesses maybe they would be appeased by this. this is my most cynical self but there is something about that i find so appalling but i understand white so seductive in 1968. there has been a large-scale failure of the federal government to live up to any of the promises of the legislative and >> reforms that have happened relative to black rights. and so people are saying okay we are not going to be protected in these ways, maybeom we have a business maybe would become self-sustaining. but small business particularly but very few businesses have the power and we have yet to have one, to undo civil rights abuses. no companys can innovate and
the response is to buy from black businesses. as a potential solution to the problem that continues to this day so perfectly express on the cover of your book that captures a moment i love this picture so much it is a picture of a gentleman who's giving the oath of voting to a woman in the parking lot of a
mcdonald's. t this is from the neighborhood of portland. one of the things i appreciate in the research process as i was able to write about black history in the pacific northwest. she is getting her right to vote at a mcdonald's and hence the title franchise you seeat what my editor did there, she came up with the title i was not that creative. [laughter] the point is what does it mean for mcdonald's to be the space in which black rights are being pursued and realized? this is like so depressingt' isn't it? it is a cautionary tale to all of us to think this is where this needs to happen. i think what i am most concerned with is saying that we actually do have the tools to address racial injustice
and will continue to see cycles of history. too quickly ask about advertising. the advertising for donald's was so expansive. that's why the biggest campaigns ever can you talk about the company? >> communications based in chicago it was so important for this moment because what is happening in terms of the marketplace is that 1968 is the culmination in many ways of many years of racial unrest. aci think the death of king adds a level to where the country is. and other political issues. and so corporations are feeling indicted and thinking how are we going to reach out how are we going to be more
inclusive? but they do is start investing in black advertising agencies and black creative marketing and morel communications takes mcdonald's onn and creates a series of ads that are supposed to speak with the black consumer. how they are try to sell african consumers on you deserve a break today but what break is 1968 and america look around. all of this is to say, this is something i came to really appreciate during the research of this book.ot there are not a lot of african americans on television during this time. it is a very big deal. even when i was a kid growing up in the 80s of the really big deal to see these commercials. deceit not only black actors, actresses and singers but to seek black creative talent have a place to start.
producing commercials, being the black backup singers watching old mcdonald's commercials acknowledged creative work is able to shift some of the representation into the 80s and 90s. such a power. talk a little bit about archival work, finding that photo for instance. this is not a corporate history of mcdonald's they did not open up their archives. >> no they didn't.
it's a blessing to be creative and go around and find interesting stuff talk about that process works i went everywhere i can't believe i did this think about the amount of times i got on an airplane, and recent events, got on an airplane and stayed for days and the library to get three pieces of paper. this is the life of a historian. when you are on twitter and something has gone viral there is a joke and you spend maybe 40 minutes trying to find its origin a feel really proud of yourself? that is myle job that is my whole professional life. >> soap mcdonald's has its own archives that's notd' open. how do we tell theho story about mcdonald's? this is really about shifting the lens. when i tell a story about black americans in 1968 mcdonald's is everywhere. when i look at the papers of
mcdonald's is everywhere. when i look at the archives of the southern christian leadership conference of the naacp at mcdonald's is everywhere. i think we often think about certain relationships of power so people would say was there an archive of all of the black franchise owners of the early class? i say no but if is?s? think abot critically the places they donated to, the community groups that interacted with them i could have written ten books about mcdonald's and black america. but i think it's a cautionary tale on who we center and who we consider are important makers of history. this is why i am so excitedli about the possibility of a graduate student reading this book thinking this is the worst i've ever read. going to a back to the same archives and write a better version of it. these things are possible but it is political.
there have to be programs which you study african-american history for the have to be faculty to advise you to do that. this is not magic it is about changing who and what we think about in the places that train scholars to do that kind of work. >> it is always interesting to me how you were a journalist for a while, and that is how i met you, summer intern. >> and your desk was catty corner from mine. [laughter] one prize in history is that american civilization which i think is a more expansive way to look at history. that makes me think maybe that is one of the reasons you are
so smart about archives. >> being an intra- dictionary program really pushed you to think about the different places where knowledge can beod produced. it is not just the papers that are put in eight newspaper archive or a collection it is the conversation people have that you have access too. one of the things i want to say it being back home and being reflective of this trajectory, a lot of what is possible insidect the book and kind of in my career was because i grew up in a moment in which there were opportunity programs. this period of time, i am a generation from 68. but i benefited from affirmative action programs and minority scholarship program the idea we should maybe try to change things a little bit. the biggest difference between
me and my students is that they are actually living in a world with fewer of those routes of opportunity. this is what i find most irritating about the cycles of history that in some ways i can chart the programs somewhere or federally funded somewhat public/private partnerships i can chart the programs that got me too this point. when i think about the number of resources my students might have with technology, thoseme same programs in the same possibilities are not there. i think this is something we have to be so careful about in suggesting there is ever a moment where the work is done. we are always dealing with the unfinished business. the question is how do we return to a place where we still want to expand opportunity so aggressively? >> in certain ways you grapple with this. because in many ways your book is quite an indictment of
capitalism. capitalism cannot be that socially responsible. i think that is how i read your book. >> you read it correctly. [laughter] but i wanted to do it in a wayen that was sensitive and not be so arrogant to suggest i am so much smarter than the entire mechanism of capitalism that makes me want things. or makes me excited when the new iphone comes out. i don't think that is the entire point. it is to say if we are going toto be serious about the inequalities that are born out of racism, then we cannot constrain choices to wear a new mcdonald's and then have an expectation people will be well fed, healthy, have time for their families have living wages and access to
healthcare.hi these things are not compatible.. but i think when it comes to securing black rights, this is the place we turn too. this idea that the marketplace can put something together to quell the real deep inequalities people are constantlyly reacting to and having to make choices from. >> it seems people are eager with the contemporary life to condemn the fatty foods of mcdonald's, the bad food and dangers. but less eager to contend with locations of the business itself. >> absolutely. so easy i think this is a long kind of practice especially throughout the 20th
century we have ideas of diets, good food and bad food. i want people to live healthy lives. i never want us to suggest what a person is consuming is more important than the conditions that create the set of choices. and i think for health practitioners, for public policy people there is a default position that african-american choices should be the first place to go. as if all of those choices are equally constructed among all people. >> so what are the blocks to a new kind of system are merging of franchises that would do vegan food? >> there is a vegan festival going on right now. people have always kind of embraced different food
movements. i do not want the possible burger to decide whether the committee's healthcare. mcdonald's can make all the burgers they want, they can be fine. but i want them to operate in a civil and social context where their workers do not make poverty wages. >> let's talk about the franchise let's talk about the disenfranchised and the people who work there at which are in your book. when i looked at your footnotes, those were really great archival fines. >> there is this moment where people are thinking okay, fast food jobs are first jobs. they are at entry point into the marketplace. and then people will have the
other tools for social mobility. will put no money into those tools we will not create any regulatory on those jobs. when the nation is in financial crisis there wille not be an expansion of benefits in these jobs. then you wonder why can't you advance and from these jobs when mcdonald's really starts to get into black communitiesre there are two things i think a really interesting. one is a lot of the black franchise owners are praise for bringing black women into working at mcdonald's. the early mcdonald's brothers fired all the young women who worked at the restaurants because they said they flirted because sexism is ever greeted. and then slowly but surely youor have young black women working at mcdonald's and some being able to be managers and seeing this as a great opportunity.
mcdonald's sells itself to black consumers by suggesting that the person workingrs the counter could one day become a franchise owner. the stream that if you stay in long enough to do and how much capitol you have to have two franchise mcdonald's? mark zuckerberg said in an article a few days ago you could have a mcdonald's franchise or i can send you tot harvard, isn't that a great story? just to wrap our heads around it. that myth of the possibility of the franchise system is still so powerful. but all of this is to say that the economy shifted rapidly so sthat these jobs were not possible n in terms of creating stable, working families. the fight for 15 has effectively raised that consciousness among a lot of people but still the 15-dollar an hour wage is not enough. i used to work at oklahoma
city had taught at the university of oklahoma and ii remember when companies would come in and people would say these are great jobs and we don't have to pay a lot because oklahoma city is not expensive. this is the kind of barometer for economic growth. this is how the fast food practices really mushroomed. low wages, inconsistentar scheduling, sexual harassment, no paid sick leave, workers are expendable. this is the moment we are contending with. >> we are short on o time. any questions? please come up to the microphone if you have a question. >> i have one last question i'm retaining my rights for the last question. >> actually i was going over in my mind what question to ask. >> hi daniel how are you? i thought that was you.
i am glad you got to the last point i was going to come to that because i feel it's i grew up in the south mcdonald's was its first job, my brothers first on my nephew's first job. when i moved to los angeles it's like i am supporting my family with the job for mcdonald's. would've been a thing to have done since 2011 but now it's an incredible insult almost all around the country. i am wondering if you have seen anye connection between that mutation of what mcdonald's was in the civil rights movement and lewis powell in the powell memo the basic strategy of corporate america to push down everything that happened with the civil rights movement and that's in concert by the u.s.
government. i don't want to say synergy or intentional complement right there? >> one thing i found talking about archives but that really blew my mind was when i was looking at mcdonald's in the 60s i found a number of instances in which groups like the student nonviolent coordinating committee and naacp were involved in protest against segregation at mcdonald's. why is that not within the framework of our history of segregation? we've seen all the iconic images they are very much codified before there was segregation and then there wasn't an these were the places in whichse it happened. : : . the pine bluff, arkansas movement of 62 -- 63, people are beaten by the police trying to do a protest of a segregated mcdonald's. mcdonald's was part of the
north carolina citizens and durham and memphis. all of these places people are acting against a mcdonald's. it is not within the frame. sometimes themselves on the to the narrativeth of we did this socially responsible thing by recruiting black franchise owners. they wrote themselves out of that history and kept doing these things. they were early supporters of the martin luther king junior holidays and i think that rights them out of that. while there is a lot of criticism through the labor practices today and there was a lot of stuff about the environment in the 80s and 90s their relationship to the period of the era of segregation has disappeared and i find that so strange.
something that you've seen? >> that's an excellent point. one of the issue is that, based franchise owners absorb a lot of the risk of the business and so they are very much beholden to the corporate structure they run the franchise under and this has become a chronic issue with the national labor relations board in determining who do you work for do you work for mcdonald's corporate where the franchise owner and they've gone back and forth on this when they are our challenges about sexual harassment, theft and taking care of workers. i think the narrative of the small business america has been regulation will kill your business, that your employees are people to be distrustful of and invested in all at the same time so we could createat an incredible movement if we are the fuel of america every politician left and right makes thiss claim these are the things we demand from the public in order to have our small
businesses and this is why i say danger when we talk about black-owned businesses. the majority of the businesses will never have the ability to rebuild the southside of chicago from minneapolis or harlem. they don't have that capacity. but if they have the floor, perhaps they can say if you really want a black economic empowerment, this requires universal healthcare, free college, free childcare. those three things alone could transform the possibility of small businesses that can an employee may be one or two people that can o maybe expand, but once i think we suggest that the public good undermines business, then we lose that possibility. >> i have one quick question. for people to rush out and buy
this book, we could only just give you a taste of it. you have a five -month-old baby at home. >> i do. a. >> do you think you will be able toar go to mcdonald's -- >> this is what i've learned in my many months of parenting. i cannot determine what my child eats after a certain point, because i want him to be an autonomous person in the world, but this is what i do know. i know at the very least i will try my hardest to raise a sensitive child who imagines choices make a difference and whether it's whai he eats or how he treats others into there will be a lot of talk about mcdonald's but i think every choice we have is complicated and regardless of the choice he makes, he's still my baby boy that i love so much into the last thing i will say
is this it has been an incredible year. i adopted a child and won the pulitzer prize, in that order. this isn't about me necessarily, but a black woman in her 40s could be recognized with a pulitzer prize. as someone who was on every imaginable i feel like is meaningful and it doesn't necessarily mean that the work is over. you have done such good work. >> thank you.
my name is nathan and on behalf of the humanity as i would like to welcome you to the southern festival of books here in nashville tennessee. if you are watching us online or joining us on c-span we have a great discussion for you today and we are glad you're with us. before we start, i'd like to thank a few of the sponsors for their ongoing support. the arts commission, the content group, the tennessee arts commission, vanderbilt university. we are grateful for your continued support. thank you for everything you do to help make this a great festival every year. if you