tv Lectures in History The Reconstruction Era CSPAN October 24, 2021 8:01pm-8:52pm EDT
to talk about pbs on the documentary reconstruction, america after the civil war. >> welcome to our class on the making of the international african-american museum. i assist mayor rally dennis riley with the supreme court. before i turn it over to my colleague to introduce our special guest, following remarks from professor gates, and conversations between professor gates and mayor rally, time for a few questions from our students, again,
hands and created over america's eyes to our country's location. with history and genealogy. the naacp defense fund with 50,000 agreements for the recognition to our country. the series on the selection series for the scholars program with the most access to african-american students in south carolina providing consistent -- to ensure their
success with the scholarship program. privileged to have you with us. >> thank you, mister mayor, for the kind introduction. i thank everybody for gathering on a lovely day. it is beautiful here in cambridge, massachusetts and i welcome you to my kitchen. my wife said don't be messing up the kitchen with joseph riley talking so long. an opinion by jonathan greene from north carolina behind me, joseph riley wanted to know where that came from. joe asks how come i answered emails so quickly?
because i am obsessive with unanswered emails. when i get email i answer it. it electric i learned. the longer your email the shorter the answer can be. the longer you wait you have the guilt factor so you have to make up something and say i have been thinking about that but the answer right away. hope you are well, see you, and leave. i made a film about reconstruction, not because until recently, thanks to our pbs series, nobody talks about reconstruction. don't know about you guys but i
studied reconstruction at all in school. we skipped from we's surrender at appomattox to the civil rights movement. you could reasonably ask, if the slaves were freed why did we need the civil rights movement? everybody forgets what happened in between. i made it as a mirror for the moment we were going through which was in a nutshell most simply put, 12 years of maximum black freedom followed by a rollback. does that sound familiar? eight years of our first black president followed by the rise of white supremacy and always rollback. nobody could believe when barack obama was elected the first time and reelected and a president would be elected no matter what your politics at a
minimum manipulated the tropes of white supremacy in order to gain an attempt to maintain his support. i mentioned this to joe once. i first realized the backlash against having a black family in the white house when i was filming a previous series at the jim crow museum at ferris state university. obama had been in the white house a couple years and already and that museum, they had a space dedicated to racist images of barack obama and i am not talking just with big lips or standard tropes of black
inferiority, but really nasty, the scene images, live with one of the things i study is the image, it is good or bad and numerically the bad images outnumber the good. the caricatures to see briefly in the video clip which proliferated in the 1890s. where lithography becomes cheap in 1890. it was invented in the nineteenth century and very expensive. who better for photography than
black people, black skin, white eyes, it was made for. the images of jonathan greene behind me, the vibrant red, the black, the green. there were three or four images used over and over again in tens of thousands of these racist images at the university i thought something is happening here. what it is isn't clear. that all of that literature about racism. obama is a second abraham lincoln, he will be on mount rushmore, a lot of people were just pissed off, pardon my french, about having a black family in the white house and it went deeper than that and you saw the most counterintuitive thing happened, donald trump
succeeding barack obama in the white house, in part because of the all white rollback. the challenges a black person in the white house represented. it was reconstruction redux, the rollback to reconstruction redux. to change the sequence of my films, pbs, the treatment of reconstruction. it is america's second founding. remember lincoln's new birth of freedom, the passage of the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth amendments, on december 6th, 1865, the thirteenth amendment, in a brilliant documentary, is the thirteenth amendment ended slavery.
in 1860 there were 3.9 million enslaved african americans, maybe 5000 gained their freedom through the emancipation proclamation. to be 3 coming it only applied to the confederate states and an enslaved person hits get behind union lines to, quote, b3. there are disagreements about these numbers, no one was counting heads that 500,000, means 2.4 million enslaved people who were freed. they were only freed by the ratification of the thirteenth. four years later the ratification of the fourteenth amendment which established birthright citizenship, the equal protection clause, and due process under the law. it has been used over and over,
the gift that keeps on giving. that is my doorbell. amazon is going to have to wait. you ever wonder why america has birthright citizenship, they couldn't figure out how to make enslaved people citizens, they never had -- never think about citizens. scholars disagree but roger carney thought that was true, that black people never were and never will be citizens even if they are free. how many black people at a given time are free? maybe 10% of the total black
community. in 1860, 488,000 enlisted, 262 of those people lived in slave states. there were more freed black people living in slave states then there were, but black people could not vote accepts in 5 of the 6 million states and all the other, all other states communicate and in the state of new york if you satisfy $250 property requirement which is pretty
tough, pretty tempting to do, freed black men in the north didn't get the right to vote until the ratification of the fifteenth amendment which is 1870. however, this is the biggest surprise for me. one of the biggest surprises to me making the series was black men in the former confederacy because tennessee going back to the union got the right to vote in summer of 1867 three years before my free black and sisters who lived in virginia, 30 miles from where i was born. one was on my father's side and
two sets freed by the american revolution. john redmond shot in the american revolution. a free black man. my brother and i, sons of the american revolution. in 1863, became west virginia in june of 1963 but in spite of that they could not vote even though they were free in west virginia. because of the fifteenth amendment but throughout ten of those 11 confederate states all black men got the right to vote but because of the
reconstruction amendment, i call summer of 1867 the first freedom summit. 80% of all eligible black men registered to vote. 80% of them largely illiterate because enslaved people were barred by law. nevertheless they registered to vote and a general election they serve the balance a 500,000 men cast their ballots for ulysses s grant, won the elect oral college, over 300,000 votes. in south carolina that was
ground 0, south carolina, had a majority in the house of representatives. it was as black as black could get. that scared the bee gees is not only out of the confederates, white liberal people in the north, ladies and gentlemen, nobody thought always black people were going to vote. south carolina, mississippi and louisiana were majority black states. south carolina, mississippi, and louisiana were majority black states. georgia, alabama and florida were in the 30s. that was like a mini black republic and it was much too powerful, potentially powerful
with meridian in vicksburg and hamburg. there were lynchings in that tenure period. in the iteration, the thirteenth amendment was ratified in december of 1865, in december of 1865, parallel discourses, simultaneously during the whole period of reconstruction. and and the ballot, pass the bone of contention. and in the 1930s.
and free labor, substitute it with neo-slavery, sharecropping, vagrancy laws that allowed a idol black men to be picked up off the street but in january, in 1873, the great depression until 1929 when the real great depression hit and they changed the name. and and and they were divided into five military histories.
one, citing why they were rewriting the constitution. literacy tests, there is no use equally located in or lying about it. it was held for no other purpose than the in word from politics, not the m word but the in word. mississippi was the first state to do this in the senate in 1873. mississippi plan spread through the south. south carolina, and by the way joe agreed that if i did that, this lecture, he was going to buy me a house in dietrich.
in buford, i think it would be fitting for fletcher university to be right about reconstruction in the new museum. i forgot where i was. in louisiana in 1898, ladies and gentlemen coming in 1898, there were registered voters in the states of louisiana. after they shook that, by 1904 that number was reduced precisely, 342. think about that, that is how devastatingly effective the rollback to reconstruction looked. one more thing.
the narrative, the narrative. birth of a nation, the most racist film ever made, is not about the civil war. it is about reconstruction and it focuses on south carolina majority black legislature. they become the metaphor of the trope for incompetence, ignorance, lust. one woman in the film, in silent film, they passed the miscegenation law making it illegal for black men to marry white women. that is where the invention of the trope of gus the rapist. ever wonder why other scholars have pointed this out, stories about black men raping white women, all the confederates are white, black slaves back on the
plantation, they are not stories about rape. the whole thing about rape was invented as part of the narrative that black women wanted to rape white women. that is post-civil war conceit and it is part of the pernicious lie about black men. if you look at birth of a nation, it is 3 hours long and you got to what? we watched the whole thing, makes you want to vomit. remember the main action is gus the rapist trying to rape this white women and she leaps to her death rather than submit, to protect her womanhood.
that propaganda effort went with the erection of those confederate monuments. much more pernicious, the monuments where the granite version, but the historian general of the confederacy, mildred lewis rutherford. i wish i could have met mildred. she was a smart cookie. john made my students read this book. the pamphlet had 20 principles. she set it out in the library and before they decided whether to buy it or use it in their classroom she wanted them to measure the feces of that book against her 20 principles, the measuring rod. i will quote just 3 of her 20 principles.
rejectable, widow mildred says. the civil war to hold it. it speaks of the slaveholder of the south as cruel and this is the best one. the work that glorifies abraham lincoln. common core was the lost cause and so by the time the last reconstruction congressman left, congress, in 1901, the narrative was in place and professor dunning as columbia wrote the academic histories about reconstruction saying it is the worst moment in the history of the idea of democracy.
i will tell you how bad it was. i dug up this passage for you. it is from thomas dixon who was also a racist novelist and a klansman was the basis for birth of a nation but he wrote another book before it in 1902 called the leftist spot, a leper -- a leopard can't change its spots. it is in the old testament. this is what he said. i did you to listen to this, quote, the negroes here, two pairs. it seemed a joke sometimes, the thought of it, a huge preposterous joke, actual attempt to reverse the order, turn society upside down and
take the negro yesterday was taken from the jungle, the proudest and strongest race halt in 2000 years of history, passion in the hearts of the demagogues, with social dynamic, it is a joke that took on the hellish sinister means. .. >> not because - because remember, the summer of 1967, after the war in the southeast and operated the second floor on the unarmed people in the south in their attempt to establish demand the african. [inaudible]. with the conspiracy against human progress. that was the blackest crime in the 19 century and of the fact
that 750,000 men died in the civil war, by giving the black man the right to vote. so having the civil rights on the bridge, and john lewis and his friends, why the open voting rights because all those years, the voting rights act to get the right to vote back. first of all five is joe biden i would go there on sunday. [laughter] and if everybody forgets, the joe biden when he came out in new hampshire and when he came to south carolina, they said the press would not even gather and him and bernie was a man and he had the momentum. and he spoke to me and said joe biden would be president. [laughter]
>> in south carolina, he delivered in georgia. georgia, and what happened is since an election the republicans by 2000, trying to repress the black vote. all over again and so everybody knows the powers and the balance and you can see graphically with a radical reconstruction. thank you very much. [inaudible]. >> thank you. [inaudible]. the african-americans. [inaudible].
[inaudible]. [inaudible]. >> at 40 percent of all of them change in the united states and that is amazing. and charleston, that is incredible. there were only 388,000 men and to north america directly from africa enemy that is a lot and another 42000 came in and america - also 42001 oh say that because cheney until the asian
revolution got 772,000. in cuba god 950,000 africans and most of them after 1808 when the slave trade became illegal in the united states. one of the reasons he was so especially because he wanted not only slavery to continue, he wanted to reopen the slave trade. that was pretty extreme he wanted this for slavery in jamaica, 9 million africans. 680,000 landed on the island of barbados. and you're ready for this ladies and gentlemen, 5 million but half of the 40 percent, and
88000 were from - they came from charleston and that is the first reason that museum a proper african-american museum and the second reason is because charleston was ground zero for reconstruction. so in part, because that's where his house was. we had to bring some kind of exploited capacity and that, excuse me it is. dry in here.with the slave tradk lives, it was called, all of
that has to be part of the museum. so the landing ground, the imported africans they came to charleston. and that fact alone, for there to be a museum created a charleston has so much more going for it because of the history of the reconstruction and the war of reconstruction. i love charleston, and forgive me of the understanding. [laughter] but you know what, every time i am there joe, and that line, as long. and before covid-19 i had been down in charlotte. i was fascinated by the confederacy i don't blame them. and we joke about not only the
black men and fighting roots but it makes white people feel better about owning the slaves. i don't believe in - just because your great-great-grandfather, does it make you. [inaudible]. so when i was the only somebody's ancestor far from the confederacy, i felt that is matter fact i don't think the blacks were there and i don't feel they should think less of themselves because of their ancestry you are not responsible. i'm not responsible for my family. i don't want to be responsible for my cousins did let alone
will my or the dead people dead. and slavery was a beautiful thing, their against the rights of humanity and the african struck a narrative to the complexity of our history. and without name-calling and water museum brainchild in a legacy and i'm glad that you asked me to be part of it but i will that complex story to be told. [inaudible]. the last because. [inaudible].
point out that's where i got this and. [inaudible]. my first wife is a white american and we had two little girls i know i was raised with george wallace and so i didn't know if i wanted to go into that so i decided to go down to the humanity center and sabbatical at the park which is you know, chapel and that little area. it is very little. the first weekend that we were there, you know how disorientating it is when you move, and my daughters were nine years old and seven years old. it was january of 1990, i guess.
you can look it up, 89 and 90 in the raleigh paper said that a young family. [inaudible]. and i was 19, and about my first african art in africa when i was 19 years old and i was a student take yale on the program working, i was premed. the black girls in the black boys, and my mother said the holy ghost in the doctrine. [laughter] and so i was there working at the hospital so anyway, i had been collecting are since i was 19, so i said a new black artist that i never heard of and i went to the opening and i told my daughters because i wanted them to start collecting.
it is never too soon and i said will go into this exhibition, you can pick any painting that you want. i will buy it. and so my older daughter, at the age of nine, my younger daughter thought this was beautiful and thought it would be beautiful in the living room and i led them to believe that this painting. [inaudible]. and you are going to have to wait. [inaudible]. >> do me a favor. let us just look at it so we can see this painting and you know joe, i am sorry but it is 329 and i want to ask you one more
question. just a quick one. maybe what has been your most surprising or significant discovery from fighting your roots work if you can share a quick story with us. >> sure that's a good question. i love doing that show and that sort of the numbers were good and a very happy about that. i was there for multiple years and it grow its audience and i'm very pleased about that in fact, i'm fully vaccinated. in testing in la on saturday and fighting guests under the straight covid-19 protocols for, finding roots in the table where sit with the guests and share
the stories, it is now 6 feet in diameter. i don't know, i like telling the story of the great-great-grandfather because in 1970, he was living in mississippi and next door two oh white man. and i think he is 28 years old. and when we go back to 1867, after the slave labor he owns in 18 -year-old black male. you can't be sure but you can give sherlock holmes - because he took his name from them and in 1870 he was ten years older but then you don't know the black people only free black
people were listed by the names and the federal senses and there were two counties where that will maybe half a dozen but only about a half a dozen and all other counties, in the united states and enslaved person was listed only by names in color and black and latino. along with other property. so 1976, they walked up to a white man and he said you know what we can use, a brown man. [inaudible]. and he said yes and he said well i know where you can find one. i'll give you 2000 bales of hay because i don't have any money and in a specified time rated i can't remember right now with the contract said and he said he
was a fool they thought it was a full because john watson said that if you were out under 2000 bales of cotton or - i get to keep all of the bales and he said we know he was successful because john watson signed and transferred those 80 acres over to her great-great-grandfather. and positing cited same in 1980. so somehow, his brother got the rights. and years later he goes back to him i think was watson and 250 will buys another adjacent 80 acres for $250 in cash. it's amazing delight over separate because of the
great-great-grandfather. make is to be able to memorize all of the stories that we found but now we have well over 200 guests and i can't get any but the first season and tell stories that i particularly like doing stories of eastern european germans. and i used to think that event in the series and african-american american lives in 2006, african-american wives too, in 2008, and anyway you gotta play god in the president. [laughter] and so watching this lady, i'm in the infantry and you only do black people say racist. [laughter] and it had never occurred to me
that i could taste the white people or asian people or anybody else, is my brand. saul tell you a funny story. we sit around and drinking and swapping lives and advise for an rated cycle of black woman coca-cola was my sponsor that time and the foundation or one of the black women, still alive. i called her and i asked her. [inaudible]. and then she got up and on his cell phone and i said this is what i do not have the line was going dead and i kept saying are you there pretty to me she had been sitting with all of these
executives. then she got up and walked down the corridor. just as i was about to hang up. [inaudible]. and i said what am i supposed to do. everybody else and she said well i only have one thing to say i go what and she said there's a lot of white people drinking coca-cola more than black people. [laughter] and i said i think that is a yes and so we came to the spread and so make a long story short, when i began the series said that only black people looking to their ancestors. and it's hard to do europeans just as it is with black people. and essentially in the empire should be in the settlement in the phrase the pale pal e, the settlement and there were