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tv   Tiya Miles All That She Carried  CSPAN  November 22, 2021 5:18pm-6:20pm EST

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people that explore the nations passed on american history tv on sunday booktv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. television for serious readers. learn, discover and explore, weakens on c-span2. ♪ >> welcome to the museum i am edward w kaine executive director and i want to thank ali of you for watching thisll progm in appreciation to our urcosponsors in the slave quarters. it is now my pleasure to introduce the enslaved quarters executive director why will introduce to tonight. >> thank you tom. >> i have the apple into an absolute honor and privilege to introduce one of the no's enter most historians of african-american and native american history today.
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you don't have to take my word for it, the recipient of the arthur foundation genius award born and raised in cincinnati ohio doctor miles had an ab in afro-american studies from harvard university, an ma from the university and a phd in american studies from the university ofdi minnesota. currently professor at harvard, she is also the director of the center for studies in american history her first book ties the award from the organization of american historian and a prize from the american studies association. the house on dimon hills with the national council public history and the american society for the book prices. her novel, the cherokee road was a literary award finalist.
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the don of detroit won the award in social history, the james a rally in the history of race relations from the organization of american history, the james bradford best biography price from historians of the early american republic, the legacy award in nonfiction in american book award and a frederick douglass prize. in the book we are here toaw len about all that she carried, the journey of back into black family keepsake which has an outpouring of praise. some of the praise i'm going to focus on comes from jill she states in all that she carried conferences staggering anguish and atrocity of american slavery
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and number staggering courage and beauty of the life she chronicled, history with brilliance and tenderness sincere lesson is. as one of her students i attend to the tenderness and rigor of which he approaches history what i set up to do archival research she told me she was more interested in what i do with five documents than what i do with 500. at the time i did not understand that she was preparing me too confront the reality that the stories of the very people who were compelled with the wealth of the station would be less out of the archives but we must tell their stories anyway. her words remind me the work of a great historian and storyteller is to acknowledge the limitation and to think creatively and expansively about how we can ask questions and utilize new sources to not only imagine but also paint a portrait of black women's lives. in all that she carried she turns to objects and art when the archive falls short to capture the fullness of roads
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and roots. what is more important, what is more tender than a devotion to ancestors lives in history. her devotion to wrestling stories from the margins as redefine history, native american studies, black studies in women's studies and given all of us the courage and a map to be bolder and more defiant in the stories that we tell. with that i wouldt like to welcome doctor chaya. >> singleton that was so moving, so wonderful, thank you. >> i'm thrilled that were gathered here and there people with us that honestly i could go to bed right now happy with what it is you just said, what a pleasure it is to be a teacher. and to have you as one of my
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students. it's really gratifying too be here and i'm grateful thank you to the museum for inviting me in bringing together additional partners in the museum to host this event. i think it's so important that we have the robbins house in the slave quarters here because museums are critical to the interpretation for the public. museums are the artifacts that we've been talking about tonight. i really could not be happier than to come before you in the offices of the three museums. i'm away from my home right now. i'm on nantucket island in doing research on another museum with african-american history which
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is centered on incredible historic sites that were built by the community, going back to the 18th century in the 19th century. again i am so grateful for the work that the museum and commuters and interpreters and visitors view. >> i have 15 or 20 minutes of my time this evening to review the framework of a dialogue. i thought i would begin with where i started,. >> i will treat you mama.
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>> this is where i started when i was inspired to work on the book that became all that she carried. >> this is surprisingly eventful and impactful life i will though looks to be quite lame. it's known as ashley and it was given the name who did the research that we know of on the fact and who described in the following way in the very first description of it. in charleston south carolina
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circa 1850 covid-19 21, fabrication, three strands and burglary. it's entry recorded. plain leaf cotton for manufactured became in the 1840s with the industrial sewing machine reduced by the machines that was so strong enough to hold heavy content. and carefully and held in place. and that was the work of mary as well as her partner.
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he's a christian who attacks the name. this past march we were at the museum for african-american history and culture currently the plantation of the national historic landmark in the estate one of the wealthiest families. in the plantation is operating by the foundation of the owner and knows the fact it was the smithsonian. they exhibited the charleston international african-american museum. this has taken so many twists and so many turns on the journey
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to the various sites in our country. with the pivotal moment of the phistory took place when a free-market shopper just like me was looking in tennessee and coming and came across the fact that look like rocket was being built up. >> around $20. she bought it and discovered it was not what is seen. in fact even more compelling that it was taken of the many stories that it was built for us enslaved black women's lives in their textile or craftwork.
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about heirloom and inheritance. about love. >> it's passed down the cheshire and it's become a family practice in this one i binning able to engage in as well. my grandmother and my great aunt. in the article of clothing that we received from parents and grandparents in her grandmothers. and with that tradition it also stands apart from it.
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it is the difference as something that we are very familiar that arrest our attention and driver focus for us to see as well with the simple facts. because in this case in the case of a fact i woman named roe, black mother with no financial assets passed on an object that was invaluable. she was an enslaved woman. is about to have her child stolen from her. in that moment of grave stress that we can scarcely imagine with the facts and the facts were talking about tonight and a
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variety of items. we were down different roads. instead more of the child who is lost in the little girl named ashley. when she thought on her feet with creativity and she was qualified and may have been a judgment call, she could have asked herself in that moment what is required to keep one alive. i'll answer that question as evidence that day. period address, abrade, and a
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mother's love. today none of these items don't exist in the sack except those with love. i tried to think about and open up the discussion about the sack itself as means for us to travel to the past innocence with black women who said that we can into think about the larger stories of black women's history, black family history and trail culture history in larger stories like emergencyri and what can be done and what must be done when it
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feels like the world is collapsing in on a person. , on a family, on a community, on a nation. this is a way as a shield to protect ashley from evolving eyes of slave traders and slave dealers in many people enslaved. also would have been in a ashley and an escape as edward shows enslaved people. but the braid could function like a photograph like a visual overrepresentation of herself.
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it also could've symbolized a heritage for ashley. because going to the search was the kind of food for those to get their hands on, currently where ashley was located in south carolina but for the native tree westward in a different area and illinois in south texas and it turns out the cops yeah jb the boys and can you get me my bottled water fill up my water and get sage's water in her bag.
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>> as black mothers eternal
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love. >> this reads my great-grandmother rose, my dear ashley not age nine and south carolina have become afraid of roses here, she never saw her again ashley is my grandmother covid-19 21. >> this is the story of lost it is common in slavery and the
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experience. >> that is particular to this mother and this daughter. i think in the vicinity in the intimate story that as a whole the pair that it is common syndrome for understanding. rose is packing a sack to ashley with embroidery of a story that despite the evidence that it gives a sense, a hint of how they were able to survive. >> we can see to the facts that
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they seemed identified the physical and emotional things that the goblins would need. and to provide essential things together a availability and human needs food and clothing and also what may seemed like a stretch but remember it was quite wrong. >> to crawl into as a weather shelter. in the clothing shelter and its
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alarming to the group. the fact and evidence in emergency planning. the culture of african america is one-of-a-kind in the current national crisis and integration loses hope that was realized and for ashley alive came to pass as her daughter rosa and her daughter ruth and dorothy.
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>> and family perseverance against the odds. the book offers a tale about the personal pain in the collective price that society devalues what is precious. in this case a single girl. >> also at the heart which we can grab in reach with
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artifacts. the burden about being the inhumane world in the capacity that we saw and carried. thank you. >> professor thank you so much for the presentation and for this wonderful book which i cannot recommend highly enough to reviewers it's a richly textured on our combined effort won't do it justice, i encourage our readers to get the book. before we start and how you came to us. i am honored to be here with you but hesitation because this feels like a sacred item you run the book to mother's enduring
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love and that moment of grief and what it's been like the past years with artifacts in the emotion. >> that goes to the center of the process working on this book and to work on the history of enslavement and what you experience. first the word sacred which he picked up on in the book i do not use words lightly.
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because as academic and scholar. we have been trained to understand the lines of distinction between different trays of methods in different ways of knowing and understanding before us. i am not a historian of religion now if not what i study and try to understand historians and scholar of the american past in other nations past try to separate from questions on last
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there studying the topics. when i first saw ashley my experience was an intense feeling of sadness and disbelief how could this happen even though you happen we already knew what took place this is a special artifact in a special thing and this is the category, is not a document in itself. on them i did caution myself one responding immediately and emotionally to the subject.
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that's my job that's what we were taught to do of scholars of academic context and we're going to put on a hat and all the evidence that we can in the interpretation letter shall i had to tell myself list feels like a different realm in its feels spiritual. my job was to look at it for many different angles. to do the work of trying to take it apart and put back together to find the meeting. once i had gone through that reckoning, i realized to be true
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have to go back to the space of emotion because this is the centerpiece of the thing bob. the center of the embroidery in the center of a textile. in thehe end i came back to spirituality a place in the work. to put love at the center of the book which i think is what belongs. >> there are chapters we can very briefly go over the figures
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you asked what we know about rose not one record of the martin family describes rose or the life to live her fears behind a wall of silence can you skillet and he refused to submit to the lies that she had no right to omit her daughter and provided inherent radical stance in the archive revealed the potential force of human will against the other. if you can tell us a sketch of why rose and ashley were separated?
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>> we don't have the records avthat we want them to sign history of enslaved people because they were record keepers for the most part and they're not important in the eyes of those who had the wherewithal to keep the archive. one of the most important things that we will never get as close to her as we might wish we will never be able to say concretely what she was thinking how she was feeling and what she did. the best evidence that we have is on fast track it is frustrating and also beautiful. >> is beautiful because it was
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obtained and passed down i think we can assume that it was intended and cared for that is a lineage in itself that uplifts their experience and uplifts their voices and forces us to look beyond the archives, the archives in today because i have a little travel and research and yet. what we do know about rose was from very limited archival.
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it was first done by an anthropologist and he pieced together bits and pieces abouts her life looking at south carolina. i did the same independently and i went into the project. what we found weird that alexander had found which is very v helpful because it givess a greater sense of confidence of what we think we know is probably what took place. the young woman enslaved by a man and he was involved but he was somebody was striving to
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reach into the echelon of the south carolina elite, he did that probably by his wife in herself the daughter of a man with enslaved black people in the western part of the state. robert martin was a grocery at first and he was trading goods when he became the hand people plmoney, he really seems to have thought that he made it when he was able to apply his own plantation in the western part of the state of south carolina. around the same time robert martin began acquiring and reselling enslaved but people need to do this in 1840s i
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speculate rose may have came in the same. because there's other records that show acquiring other black people. he actually acquired enslaved black people with the plantation people were -- martin became really rich he identified the culture and then he died of a brain injury in 1852, we know from slavery, when the slaveholder went into labor dies also to terrible things happen in the lives of the people that they own. those peoples lives that were enslaved were attached.
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the life of their enslavers. it was not uncommon to be sold when their owners died. when their owner died, soon thereafter they were sold. it's a case that soon thereafter rose died although i can't say that for certain once ashley is sold we may not have records. if it were not for the fact we might think she had to survive. it's the roots of that story and having the commitment of creativity to slow it down. >> you right now she says that she is my grandmother and you
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assume ashley was alive. he can't know for sure but you assume shean was alive at that moment. >> that's right so much more what iig tried to do is to drawp whatever might be present in open them up into interpretation it's one of those moments that you just refer to. the fact is ashley is myy grandmother in his suggest the ashley, andrew. >> beautifully the african-american ancestry from transparency in the world of
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slavery, ashley is nine years old and her transformation after which her mother can the break for a real living child it's nearly impossible for many of us to bottom. >> it skips a generation and having a mother in you are able to discover some things about the generation between ashley and ruth maybe you can tell us what you learned there. >> there is a gap, one of them appears, there's a bit of inflammation about rose and ashley and ashley is okay in
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them ambrose the granddaughter, there's somebody between the granddaughter and the grandmother and that some other. i find it very interesting that the mother is not mentioned. >> we don't know why they chose not to include her own mother in the story. her own mother was most likely named rosa but was on record to tell us but this would make perfect sense. it is a tradition in the american families for people to name children and grandchildren back to their ancestors, it's another one of those maintaining a connection in recognizing even when the slavery system the very
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important connection. rosa was born and lived her life out in the interior of south carolina and working as a domestic which was an occupation for black men in the late 19, early 20th century. >> then you talk about the decision to capture the story and you write she could've written it down on paper and she chose, our first question from the audience, it looks almost like a poem in the manner maybe if you talk about your thoughts of the importance of embroidery and how it's actually laid out in the words are laid out. >> i agree with the person who asked that question.
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>> we began to see so many informed in it. it does look like a problem, it feels like a poem and reads like a problem in the element. i think of it as being like a recipe of the things that one needs to make something. it also has the feel god. and women of the middle classes right, they did sign at the bottom of some of their handy mark, that is not unusual. at theiw same time they put this
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text next to the written document which will have the name andl the date and the formt looks very familiar. these connections makes me think about my goodness, how creative how brilliant, how innovative to layer the single record of ava family story with all of these different suggestions in various forms. your question about embroidery, i thought about this for a while i found it curious and interesting and challenging because i'm used to working with written text and especially written by black women who had been enslaved and managed to
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escape and either wrote their stories in the south or told it to someone else. i've always wondered why did they embroider this, seems like it would've been easier to write it down. . . . >> for her own family and perhaps she went in the way of seeing what she would do on the embroidery. nonetheless, she did take another a step, she took another step to tell the story which again the embroidery, really seemed toll indicate that.
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[inaudible]. from the status for her own dignity and to take part in our family life because while i know ever african-american women who gave from most part, the kind of work which was reserved for white women rated and also for the middle class and so, the rey to the ones who work domestic which came from a long line of black women who had been domestic. they were chosen, the entitled slavery and that occasional with a black limit and women that they had, she took this apart from that kind of labor and associated herself with a middle-class style of respect.
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adornments, and i think that she should've known this that this is a political aspect of this embroidery. and she is saying, i am here and i can do this, i procure and with all of the respect and a lot of veneration which with the white women are viewed. >> and possibly her proactive it stamp there, writing that this particular african-american woman, and culture has asserted vibrancy to it. and then handed out and then carpet up and what you mean by that.
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>> what i am thinking about this is that her at two different inputs in all these inputs is howw i felt. in the conversations and felt like what i saw and i felt like i was taken in and being drawn it into something that was not just an inanimate object but it said something that it its own legacy or life in the fact that and i think people's other experiences that i was able to have a strong emotion for me.
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and i think other people experienced that as well and ordinarily, things goes to the to have an impact. but some appear to do nothing but the fact that seems to be in it seems to exist and it seems to have a sense of life and here we get into that bits of the labor and all of that. and the fact that people are a document doing more work think that this is the love that rose soda into the second that we still feel. so that is one input and the other input is there is an
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academicn conversation around te distance between. in the thought process in terms of an object may be kind of static during the life. and do something with it and they have more energy and more ability to act on us as human beings. and it helps me to try to articulate how this is and why this is this is not an ordinary thing. >> questioner is asking have you located any living descendents.
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>> i have not located any descendents have tried hundred try and again, others have tried and in previous projects, i have been able to identify descendents but here i've not been able to and i think thing that i have accomplished that has been out there for months and it has not actually interested people to contact me and say that i'm a descendent as exciting without happens on opening that there might be women who will let me know. >> and thinking into contemporary times early on in the book, and telling a story that your grandmother phoned you and your great path margaret and how it connects to a piece of
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the culture in your family and i thought maybe you could tell us the story. >> sure. one of the things that seems special about that sack is that people who see it, often describe the empowerment to a greater for infants space of their own memory of loved ones so people for instance mentioned visiting the south mines them of their home and reminds them of lost or it reminds them of children for example. and i think with the fact says
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that he brings forward, very difficult memories but also it brings other things for people who read the story and think about how unyielding that grief seems to be. and then see the efforts survived by the descendents so i think that and has that effect on people to have a greater awareness of that interconnection and family stories and mother losses and it was the same for me. i am very fortunate keeper of the family keeper and it was from my great aunt margaret someone who i never met and it was very story and story my great-grandmother and control
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the story many times, and of waltham of my cousins but they were real. [inaudible]. and the first was told what it was like growing up in rural mississippi. with her aunt and how at first, as a child life seemed good, is important because if not always, later on. in order to eat, and of course, they had planned they had cows and they were doing well. but they lost their land with the white men came into town and it basically pushed or threatened her father into signing over the labor with it
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and asked mark because he could not read orr write and after tht moment,e they were thrown into poverty and they had nothing and they became sharecroppers and they had to basically call their way back up to any kind of assisted living and my grandmother ended up deciding the north would be better for her i can't help but to think about the middleton's namath and my mother would north and to ohio and just thinking about that always to that moment in mississippi, for the anthony comstock her, and in the middle of the stories you told, that was even though the family was cheatedd, correct into having to give up and landed in the
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livestock and their things, margaret saw what was happening and she ran a door and she got one of the cows and she walked it over to the neighbors house prettyei and she saved not one w which was incredible they talk about how they would've been lost without that one cow. and for whatever, quilts am so fortunate to have an enigma might great aunt margaret wood never met my grandmother i think about the story she told me. >> this might be repetitive but you're right that i never met or even glimpsed a picture of her ahead seen and admired the work of her hand is in the connections are so powerful and associating with the plug-in and angered me and reminder of
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preserved dignity and hope in dire times something necessary for preservation elevation of life in the end. and close to the end of our time and i asked you a question earlier about the sack and calling into action and i thought that you might talk a little bit more about another quote and heavy comment on it, the sack carried a burden in relations but it also contained the preservation of the model for the purpose thing of the task and for regenerating relationship as we engage in work and shared purpose across relational and regional lines in their number of times in the book that i found quite inspiring in the notion of thinking of the challenges that others in their time they needed more courage to face the
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challenges and i don't know if i read into it or that was your intent or perhaps you can comment on that. >> i certainly see the importance of that in the story, started this project in 2016, which was quite a year in our nations history. it was history. we already been divided in many ways along the lines of critical relations but things have become much more intense since 2016 and it seems it's only getting worse. this process actually helped me lift up even when it had eternal
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strife and division because actually faced sufferings and suffrage upon them and their descendents forever. but, they managed to have that connection it through love, this would seem to be. it enabled ashley to stay connected to her mother, rose, and sing with rose, and she connected with her for mother's and i hesitated saying this because i feel that sometimes we overuse these words that seem so staggering but i can take part in that in times like this, that i didn't actually 19 and the
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sack and that idea of love and i think that love is the answer that we have and that that embroidery offers us and how we can navigate and the only emergency and crisis but also that extreme separation. >> i'm going to say a couple more because from the books but before i do a lovely note that we can in honors or anything else that i didn't ask for the audience. >> yes, i do have a few thoughts that i would like to adhere at the end. there's a line in the book that heard people repeat back to me. so i want to share here because it seems to be meaningful to
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people and is aligned the says, we are our descendents ancestors i think that is so important because it underscores the fact that we have to act the way that wereav infected to, it is our duty. >> i'm kind of surprise, destitute quote that i chose to let me put it into context. actually, i was struck by this and the quite assertion of the rights to life and liberty in beauty even for those at the bottom, the facts stand and eloquent of our country's ideals by indicting - and our imaginations grow ashley once she did and caring and
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stitching's and the costs of tomorrow just as rose naturally found it their journey that was forced in the landscape, there is no safe place left for us while the world is closing and we need to get out of here in a hurry and we need to get out of these frames of mind is an emotion that elevates mastery over compassion and division of her connection to, and greed of her care and separating us one from another. and the only option is political and's sanitary emergencies and i will ask the founders or i will die not trying and we are our ancestors of our descendents and they of the generation with a radical hope for their survival and what will we have in their sack. thank you so much for joining us this evening and for this very tvery moving story that you hae related so beautifully.
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