tv Marcia Chatelain Franchise CSPAN January 17, 2022 9:45pm-10:31pm EST
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there is a microphone here because c-span is recording, please come to the microphone so it can be heard on the recording. and let's begin. please welcome marica chatelain, the author of "franchise the golden arches and black america," and is in conversation with elizabeth taylor. thank you. [applause] >> thank you all for coming today. it is a pleasure it is a beautiful day outside, but it's going to be much more interesting to be in this room as we really dig into this important piece of history, so thrilled to be here. professor of history, georgetown university, that is the initial
bio. i just want to say pulitzer prize winner, 2021. [applause] and so, the citation read this way and one reason i'm going to read it out loud is that there was not a big luncheon or anything for the book this year because of covid, so i don't know if you've had a stranger read this to you ever, so i'm going to do it. so, this amazing book franchise, the golden arches and black america, the citation read this way from a nuanced account of the complicated role of the fast food industry played in african-american communities. at the portrait of race and capitalism that masterfully
illustrates how the fight for civil rights has been intertwined with the fate of black businesses. so, that it is. it's a smart and capacious book and a work of history that goes way beyond what you know about the golden arches and the entrepreneurial spirit, and the calorie count of to have venial, but it digs into this really important story of how this purveyor of food actually shaped political culture, shaped the economy and really shaped so many particularly cities around the country. it's really important history and it is just a lens i don't think people have thought about
so i'm really thrilled to be here. mcdonald's is sort of embedded into the american subconscious it's a stones throw from here but it's a paradox because it simultaneously gives a history of opportunity. but it's also a chicago story so let's begin at chicago and at marcia, your first book was southside girls growing up in where you grew up, so what was your first mcdonald's experience?
>> i just want to say thank you to everyone for joining us and for this invitation to talk about my book. i got up early this morning and took a walk around downtown and it was so emotional having grown up here and having so many afterschool jobs in this neighborhood. i could count the number of places i got a paycheck around the city, and i want to return to that because mcdonald's for me was at the center i think of my budding social life as a young adult, so we ate mcdonald's a lot as kids because in the 80s, that's what you did. there was no kind of i guess social shaming about letting your kids eat mcdonald's. that's what we did all the time, but as i got older, it became the site of our social lives. there's a number of people i went to high school with and people who were of the same age and that was our social media. we didn't have cell phones but we could all meet at a mcdonald's, so in many ways i really thought as an
everpresent part of my social w, and also the place where i think i could articulate my independence. but going up in chicago's mcdonald's, it had a two distinct places. one, in its underwriting of so much of the black cultural life chicago, which is how i started to thinking about this book if you think about the village parade, if you think about some of the activities that were happening at the museum when it was emerging and my own participation in wgn broadcast "know your heritage," all of these are underwritten by mcdonald's holders and 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 xerox and those corporations in providing that entry point for a lot of black college students and so in many
ways i think being in chicago, mcdonald's means a little bit of a different thing than other cities. >> we know that mcdonald's is launched by ray croc and then the franchise starts and it's a story of that franchise industry, so how did that work? >> it grows out of southern california and one of the things i talk about in the book is that when we think about how people often talk they frame it as this incredible story of innovation, getting so many people food so quickly is a really big deal for the food industry in the 1940s and 50s but for my purpose i like to think about it in terms of what does it say about the
racial history, what does it say about businesses that grew up around the highway system which was a source of so much trouble and anxiety, what do we think about the suburbanization a fast food in communities that had all suites of legal means of excluding african-americans and so when we get to the moment where franchising becomes this a growth opportunity for business, it is exciting because it's a moment in which you don't have to have a lot of business experience or have owned a family business to make it big, and this is like so american. you can own a something, but like i own my house but bank of america really owns your house. you can be successful without a formal education, which i think is one of the promises of american industry. and people just, you know, were in love with the idea of franchising, because someone has done all the hard work, both the
assuming of the risk of liability you have to do an incredible amount of work to make it work. >> and so, thinking about chicago, great story. can you talk about the first black franchise owner? >> yes because mcdonald's was founded in 46, so the original in san bernardino was in the 40s. it moved to chicago in 55 with ray croc and he's incredibly ambitious and he says you know, we can have a mcdonald's kind of in every bedroom community, but african-americans don't really get an entry point into franchising until 68 and it's immediately after king's assassination. and i think for us, you know, having grown up in a world in which martin luther king jr. is a hero, it is very easy to not know or misunderstand that in
his moment he wasn't the good guy of history so after his assassination, you know, it's work over the past three decades that martin luther king is a hero but in 1968, after the uprisings in reaction to his death, after all of this kind of consternation about the direction of the civil rights movement, there was an incredible encouragement for black-owned businesses under the umbrella of black capitalism and so herman petty as the first african-american to do franchise in mcdonald's, he is kind of in that moment where there's federal pressure to open up the business opportunities for african-americans and mcdonald's gets involved in it knowing that there will be 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 the assassination and mcdonald's starts recruiting above franchise owners to serve predominantly black communities
and what they discover very soon after is that it's a very profitable for a number of reasons. >> very profitable for some. >> it's a very good point that you make that goes back to franchising, so what they soon discovered it's called black stores at the time, that black stores yield very good profits because they often are located in communities where there's not a lot of competing businesses. the research shows that african-american consumers go to mcdonald's more often than their white counterparts. but the franchise owner doesn't necessarily see all of the prophets, and so very early on, mcdonald's intervenes to try to create a baseline program so that black franchise owners can keep the stores. some people do lose their stores in those early years but by 75, 76, there is a sense that this is something that can work, that
if you put the black franchise owners and black communities, you not only take advantage of the changing landscape of inner-city business, but you have a loyal customer base because people feel like they are patronizing a black-owned business and this is incredibly important for the politics of the time. >> but then it becomes a sort of trade-off between do we want mcdonald's or a community center. can you explain how that was all interwoven together? >> one of the things that happened as it is becoming ever present in cleveland, philadelphia, portland oregon, community groups tried to decide if they like mcdonald's or not and i think that this was something i really wanted to talk about in the book a world in which mcdonald's wasn't a presupposition.
i do this often like has anyone in the audience never been to mcdonald's or doesn't know what it is. two people in the dozens of events i've done in this book said they've never eaten mcdonald's and they both were raised by vegan nutritionists. i don't know what it is. but there was a period of time that this was not a fixture in every community, and so 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 so there's all these different protests where people are saying mcdonald's is going to be here it has to be black franchised. if mcdonald's is going to be here, they have to contribute to the free program run by the black panther party reversal defense. if mcdonald's will be here they have to help us pay for the park. it's this moment before the
corporate social responsibility had its playbook, and 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 where there is a whole office of people telling you how to not sound racist or how to say something, but you know, in 78, 79, even to the 1980s, everything is still on the table and i think that that is the part of the history that i find most fascinating is how do we set the standards and the template for how they interact with communities. >> so interesting. how do you think the government really supports the expansion of mcdonald's by highways and where
drivers can find them easily, so in other ways how has the society been complicit in this sort of expansion of mcdonald's? >> one of the things we see in this time period that kinda felt strange to hear the rhetoric from 68 being recycled, one of the reasons why there was so much unrest in the 1960s, it's not because people want more businesses necessarily, they want the fundamental things that you need for the good quality of life.
>> the legislative form that have happened happened relative to black rates. some people say we will not be protected in these ways maybe we become self-sustaining. but small business particularly the very few have the power, and we have yet to have one to undo civil rights abuses. no company can innovate respecting someone's right to vote. so we know that during this period of time, people are thinking it is true but in 2020 we have no excuse for thinking that the appropriate response to thehe george floyd summerm that we are constantly
s and which black rights are pursued and realized? this is so depressing.. [laughter] but it is a cautionary tale to all of us to think this is where it needs to happen. and ii think what i'm most concerned with is to say that we actually do have the tools to address racial injustice but if we keep on suggesting that market-based solutions or activity will do this, then wef will continue to see the cycles of history. >> .
>> many ways of many years of a racial unrest. think the death of king at the level tour 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? what they do is they start investing in black advertising agencies and black creative marketing and black market research companies. corelle corporation takes mcdonald's on and creates a series of ads that are
supposed to speak to the black consumer. there's an anecdote about they tried to sell african-american consumers that you deserve a break today because it doesn't work what break in 1968 america look around. all of this is to say this is something i came to really appreciate during the research of this book. th >> it is a very big deal. growing up in the eighties it was a really big deal to see these commercials not only black and singers but to see black creative talent have a place to start because producing commercials and dancer in a commercial, this is the platform before the internet. if you spend as much time on youtube as iyo do watching old mcdonald's commercials there's
some big stars i get started in these commercials. i want to make sure although there is a lot of policy history and civil rightsot history to acknowledge the creative work to shift some of the representation into the eighties and nineties. >> it had such a power. talk about the archival work. finding that photo. , this is not a corporate history of mcdonald's they do not open their archives. >> no they didn't. [laughter] >> and then to go around to find interestingng stuff. >> i went everywhere.
when i think about men to get three pieces of paper. i tell the students when you are on twitter and there's a joke and then you spend 40 minutes and then youor are proud of yourself? but mcdonald's has its own archive that is not open how do i tell a story about mcdonald's? but mcdonald's is everywhere black 68. bu julian bond mcdonald's is everywhere.f but mcdonald's is everywhere with naacp.
so was there an error on —- an archive of black franchise owners? >> no. but if i think critically the places they donated money and those community groups that interacted but with mcdonald's and black america it is a cautionary tale who are important makers of history. and this is why i am so excited about the possibility of a a graduate student reading this book and then sat will go back to the same archives and write a better version because it is political and then to study african-american history. it is that magic it's about changing who and what we think about in the places we train
scholars to do that kind of work. >> you are a journalist for a while. >> but this is american civilization this is a more expensive way to look at history. >> and then to be smart with the archives. >> being that interdisciplinary peace might push you to think of the different places for knowledge can be produced.
>> but in the historical society to see in youtube or on television but the conversations people have that to say w to be back home and be reflective about this trajectory about what is possible in my career is because i grew up in a moment where there were opportunity programs. this period of time, a generation from 68 that i benefited from those action programs. the idea that maybe we should try to change things a little bit. the biggest difference between me and my students as they are living in a world that is fewer of opportunity and this is what i find most irritating about the cycles of history that in some ways, i can chart the programs somewhere
public-private partnerships but i can chart those programs that got me t to this point. i think of the number of resources with technology, the same possibilities are there. and this is something we have to be so careful about to suggest there is ever a moment when the work is done. we are always dealing with the unfinished business. how do we return to a place we still want to expand opportunity so aggressively? >> in ways that you grapple with this because it is quite an indictment on capitalism and it cannot be that socially responsible. i think that's how i read your book. >> you read it correctly.
[laughter] >> but i want to do in a way that sensitive and not so arrogant to suggest i'm so much smarter than the entire mechanism of capitalism. and it makes me excited when the new iphone comes out. that's not the entire point. but if wee are going to be serious b of the inequalities born out of racism, then we cannot constrain choices to the point where a new mcdonald's has this presence in the lives of people that have the expectation they will be well fed and healthy and time for theirir families and living wages and access to healthcare. they are compatible. but when it comes to securing black rights, this is the place that we turn to. the idea that the marketplace
can put something together to quell the deep inequalities that people are constantly reacting t to. >> it seems that and those of mcdonald's and all of the bad food in the dangers but less eager to contend with those social implications of the business itself. >> absolutely. so easy to castigate people. this is a long practice especially throughout the 20th century with diets and good food and bad food. i want people to live healthy lives but i never want to suggest what a person is consuming is more important than the conditions that create the set of choices.
for health practitioners or public policy people there is a default position that african-american choices should be the first placeho to go and all of those are equally constructed among all people. >> what are the blocks to a new kind of system emerging? >> people have always embraced. but i just at 1:00 p.m. possible burger to determine healthcare. mcdonald's can make all the burgers they want. they are fine but i want them to operate in a civil and
social context where the workers don't make povertywh wages. >> let's talk about the franchise and the disenfranchisedhe and the people that work there. >> i look at those footnotes and those are great archival fines. >> this is the moment where are thinking fast food jobs are an entry point into the marketplace. then people have thehe other tools necessary for social mobility. but we put no money into those tools. we will not create any regulatory structure on the quality of those jobs and then
not an expansion of benefits for people in these jobs and then people wonder why can't you advance? so when mcdonald's tries to get into black communities. one is a lot of the black franchise owners are praised for bringing black women into mcdonald's. and those that worked at their restaurants because they flirted and then slowly but surely young black women w working at mcdonald's. and then to become managers and then have a great opportunity but mcdonald's sells itself to black consumer suggesting the person working the counter would one day become a franchise owner and the dream if you stay in long
enough to know how much capital do you need to have the franchise mcdonald's? mark zuckerberg said his dad told him you can d have a mcdonald's franchise or i will send you to harvard. just to wrap our head around it but the myth of the possibility of that franchise system is still so powerful that to say the economy shifted rapidly that these jobs are not possible in creating stable working families. and then to raise that consciousness among people that still $15 per hour wagehe is not enough. i used to live in oklahoma city and i taught at the university of oklahoma and i remember when companies would come in people would say these are great jobs we don't have to pay a lot because oklahoma city is not expensive like
this is a barometer for economic growth. so that mushroomed and then to schedule sexual harassment no paid six on —- sickleave and workers are expendable this is what we are contending with. please come up a to the microphone if you have questions. >> hi daniel. [laughter] how are you? >> that your last point i was going to come to that it was all of our first jobs but when
i moved to l.a. at 15 that would've been a great thing to have done in 2011 but now it's almost an insult all around the country. have you seen any connection of that mutation of mcdonald's and the civil rights movement and a strategy of corporate america push down everything which is happening in concert with the us government. i want to say synergy better complement? >> talking about archives what
my mind is looking at mcdonald's in the sixties i found a number of instances groups like the s naacp were involved in protest against segregation at mcdonald's. why is that not within the frame of our history? we have seen all of those iconic images that are very much codified before segregation and then the places which it happened. but with the arkansas movement, people are being by the police to do a protest of a segregated mcdonald's. it was part of the north carolina sit in and all of these places people are acting against mcdonald's. is not within p the frame. sometimes i wonder because they have grasped onto the
narrative to do the socially responsible thing by recruiting franchise owners they were themselves out of the history and then just kept on doing these things very early supporters about mlk holiday. while there is a lot of criticism of practices and a lot of stuffhe about the environment in the eighties and nineties, their relationship has disappeared and i find that so strange. >> it is terrible. any other questions? >> you have mentioned how
structure. walking for mcdonald's corporate are the franchise owner and they have gone back-and-forth with the challenges of sexual harassment and then to take care of workers. that regulation will kill your business to have an incredible movement every politician makes this kindd of claim the majority of black on businesses don't employ anyone they cannot rebate the south
side of chicago they just do not have that capacity. but they have the floor they can save you want black economic empowerment they and this requires universal healthcare free childcare. those three things alone can transform the possibility of small businesses over one or two people but once we suggest the public good undermines business and we lose that possibility. >> wei have to go i have one quick question that people should rush out and just get a taste of it but you have a five -month-old baby atab home. >> can they go to mcdonald's.
>> here's the thing. >> this is what i have learned in my many months of parenting, i cannot determine what my child needs after a certain point because i t want him to be an autonomous person in the world but this is what i do know that at the very least i will try my hardest to raise a very sensitive child who imagined his choices make a difference and if it's what he eats orf how he eats other on —- treats others and they will be talked about mcdonald's but there also be we'll talk about every choice that we have is complicated regardless of the choices that he h makes. so the last thing i will say this has been an incredible year. i won a pulitzer prize and i adoptedd a child this is not about me necessarily but a black woman in her forties to be recognized with the pulitzer prize.
misses the point and someone who was on every scholarship imaginable and every program could do this i feel is meaningful and doesn't necessarily mean the work is over. >> so inspiring kudos to you have done so much work. [applause] thank you. >> unfortunately i have not seen the energy from last summer is being sustained. on some level it is exciting and exhilarating that to put racism on the table
challenging one another that is the hard stuff. and in case they didn't say it earlier or later it takes courage and niceness is not courageous. so my point around that is that so many white people see the presence of niceness as an indicator of the absence of racism. and then to have difficult conversations
about the 2019 financial fraud charges filed against him against the federal government the book will be published this summer. he was sentenced to more than seven years in prison that was parted by president trump in 2020. also in the news the fbi arrested the 29 your man accused of operating a phishing scam that secured unpublished manuscripts by first-time authors employed by simon & schuster uk allegedly impersonated publishing executives and then obtained documents. none of the stolen manuscripts have resurfaced and no ransom is demanded. simon & schuster is not named in the indictment and he is placed under suspension pending further investigation. recent poll found 27 percent of americans read more than ten books last year and 8 percent drop from 2016. the 17 percent that did not read any books as part of the
survey from prior years. book sales were up close to 9 percent in 2021 over the previous year when he hundred 25 million books sold. adult nonfiction sales rose from the second consecutive year following an 8 percent jump 2020. booktv will continue to bring you new programs and publishing news and you can also watch all programs any time that booktv.org. >> hi everyone i am from the new yorker thank you for coming to today's talk called the matter of black lives. ads which collects almost a century of reporting profiles memoir and criticism fromm the magazine. my oduce coeditor, my colleague and friend who has been at the new yorkerer since