MetroFocus: June 17, 2021

Encore: December 22, 2021

CHASING THE DREAM: JUNETEENTH REPORT

 “HOW THE WORD IS PASSED”: HOW ACCURATE IS OUR HISTORY OF SLAVERY?

“How different might our country look if all of us fully understood what had happened here?” On this Juneteenth weekend, that is the question author Clint Smith sets out to answer in “How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History Of Slavery Across America” through visits to nine places that memorialize or distort their link to the legacy of slavery, from Monticello, in Charlottesville, Va., to the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan.

For more information on “How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History Of Slavery Across America,” click here.

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Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS SHOW SHOW WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

♪♪♪

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION, THE JPB FOUNDATION.

♪♪♪

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

RECENTLY WE'VE SEEN INCREASED DEBATE OVER HOW AND, INDEED IF, WE SHOULD BE TEACHING ABOUT OUR NATION'S ROLE IN THE INSIDIOUS INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY.

IN HIS BOOK TITLED 'HOW THE WORD IS PASSED, A RECKONING WITH THE HISTORY OF SLAVERY IN AMERICA' CLINT SMITH TAKES US TO NINE LOCATIONS TO, AS HE SAYS, UNDERSTAND HOW EACH RECKONS WITH ITS RELATIONSHIP TO THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN SLAVERY.

ULTIMATELY ASKING THE QUESTION, HOW DIFFERENT MIGHT OUR COUNTRY LOOK IF ALL OF US FULLY UNDERSTOOD WHAT HAPPENED HERE?

AND WE'RE DELIGHTED THAT CLINT SMITH IS JOINING US NOW AS PART OF OUR 'CHASING THE DREAM' INITIATIVE.

CLINT, WELCOME.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

LET'S START AT THE BEGINNING FOR ALL AUTHORS, AND THAT IS WHY DID YOU FEEL THAT THIS BOOK WAS APPROPRIATE AND NECESSARY AND WHY NOW?

THE ORIGIN OF THIS BOOK WAS THAT IN 2017 I WAS WATCHING IN THE THE HOMETOWN OF NEW ORLEANS AS THE STATUES OF SEVERAL CONFEDERATE LEADERS CAME DOWN, ROBERT E. LEE.

I WAS WATCHING THESE STATUES COME DOWN AND THINKING ABOUT GROWING UP IN A CITY WHERE THERE WERE MORE HOMAGES TO ENSLAVERS THAN ENSLAVED PEOPLE.

MY MIDDLE SCHOOL WAS NAMED AFTER A LEADER OF THE CONFEDERACY.

MY PARENTS STILL LIVE ON A STREET NAMED AFTER SOMEBODY WHO OWNED 115 SLAVE PEOPLE.

WE KNOW THAT SYMBOLS AND NAMES AND ICONOGRAPHY.

THOSE STORIES AND NARRATIVES SHAPE PUBLIC POLICY AND PEOPLE'S LIVES.

I GOT REALLY INTERESTED IN HOW SLAVERY WAS MEMORIALIZED OR FAILED TO BE MEMORIALIZED IN MY HOMETOWN AND GOT CURIOUS AND OBSESSED ABOUT WHAT THAT LOOKED LIKE IN DIFFERENT PLACES ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

I IMAGINE YOU LOOKED AT DIFFERENT WAYS TO TELL THIS STORY.

YOU CHOSE TO DO IT IN THE WAY I MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION, IN A FASHION THAT I SAW DESCRIBED AS YOU PROVIDE A MAP OF AMERICAN MEMORY, TAKING US TO EIGHT LOCATIONS WITHIN THIS COUNTRY AND ONE LOCATION ABROAD.

WHY DID YOU ULTIMATELY DECIDE THAT'S THE VEHICLE YOU WANTED TO USE, THIS TRAVEL VEHICLE, THIS MAP OF AMERICAN MEMORY.

SO I'D SPENT THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS DEEPLY ENGAGED IN THE HISTORY OF SLAVERY, READING BOOKS ON HISTORY BY HISTORIANS BIKE ANNETTE GORDON REED, WALTER JOHNSON, THESE HISTORIANS THOSE TEXT AND SCHOLARSHIP HAS BEEN TRANSFORMATIONAL FOR ME IN UNDERSTANDING WHY THIS COUNTRY LOOKS THE WAY IT DOES TODAY SPECIFICALLY IN THE CONTEXT OF SLAVERY.

I THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT IT WOULD MEAN TO TAKE THE BEST OF THAT SCHOLARSHIP AND GO TO THE PHYSICAL PLACES THAT SCHOLARSHIP WAS IN CONVERSATION WITH.

IT'S ONE THING TO READ ABOUT A SLAVE CABIN AND IT'S THING TO BE IN THE PHYSICAL SPACE INSIDE OF THAT CABIN.

IT'S ONE THING TO HEAR THE WOOD MOAN UNDER YOUR FEET AS YOU WALKED ACROSS IT.

IT'S ONE THING TO SEE THE WAY THAT LIGHT SNEAKS IN THROUGH THE CRACKS IN THE WOOD PANELS.

IT GIVES A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE, A DIFFERENT TEXTURE THAT I THINK CAN REALLY CONTRIBUTE TO A MORE NUANCED, DEEPER AND MORE INTIMATE UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT SLAVERY WAS.

SO I WANTED TO GO TO DIFFERENT PLACES ACROSS THE COUNTRY THAT TOLD THE STORY OF SLAVERY IN DIFFERENT WAYS, UT MAIL-IN VOTING ULTIMATELY TO CREATE A QUILT, IF YOU WILL, OF HOW THE MEMORY IS PRESERVED ACROSS THIS NATION.

I WANT TO TOUCH ON SOME OF THE LOCATIONS TO GIVE A BETTER SENSE OF WHERE YOU WENT AND WHAT YOU FOUND.

THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT LOCATIONS.

I WAS STRUCK BY THE CONVERSATIONS YOU HAD WITH PEOPLE AT THESE LOCATIONS, INDEED, THE CANDOR THAT WAS PRESENT IN SOME OF THESE CONVERSATIONS.

WERE YOU AT ALL SURPRISED BY HOW WILLING MANY PEOPLE WERE TO TALK TO YOU AND TO BE OPEN AND CANDID?

I DON'T KNOW THAT I WAS NECESSARILY SURPRISED.

I THINK IT, AGAIN, REFLECTED WHAT MANY JOURNALISTS WILL TELL YOU, IF YOU APPROACH PEOPLE WITH GENEROSITY, IF YOU APPROACH PEOPLE GENUINELY WANTING TO HEAR WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY RATHER THAN APPROACHING THEM THROUGH ANTAGONISM OR ATTEMPTING TO SORT OF DUPE THEM, YOU KNOW, WHETHER IT BE ME GOING TO MONTICELLO, I REALLY WANTED TO UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE BELIEVE WHAT HAD THEY BELIEVED AND WHAT WAS SHAPING THOSE BELIEFS.

EVEN WHEN I DIDN'T AGREE WITH PEOPLE, I APPRECIATE THEM BEING OPEN BECAUSE IT GAVE ME A CLARITY ABOUT HOW PEOPLE'S HISTORICAL SENSIBILITIES ARE SHAPED.

YOU START OFF THE BOOK IN NEW ORLEANS, YOUR HOMETOWN.

THE NEXT CHAPTER THAT YOU TALK ABOUT IS MONTICELLO.

IT READS, 'THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HISTORY AND NOSTALGIA.'

THAT'S FROM ONE OF THE GUIDES THERE, DAVID THORSON.

FASCINATING HOW FACT CAN BE BETTER THAN FICTION.

INDEED.

DAVID WAS A FASCINATING GUY WHO HAS BEEN LEADING TOURS THERE FOR YEARS FOCUSING ON SLAVERY AND THE HISTORY OF JEFFERSON'S RELATIONSHIP AND MORAL CONSISTENCY WITH REGARD TO SLAVERY AND ALSO MAKING SURE WE WERE FOCUSING ON THE LIVES OF ENSLAVED PEOPLE AND NOT SIMPLY JEFFERSON ALONE.

PART OF WHAT HE SAID IS THERE'S HISTORY AND THERE'S NOSTALGIA AND SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN IS MEMORY, WHICH IS TO SAY HOW WE UNDERSTAND OUR COUNTRY AND HOW WE UNDERSTAND OUR RELATIONSHIP TO THIS COUNTRY AND ITS HISTORY IS NOT SHAPED SIMPLY BY PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENTS AND HISTORICAL FACT AND EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE AND NOT SIMPLY THE EMOTIONAL ENTANGLEMENT WE HAVE TO CERTAIN STORIES WE HAVE BEEN TOLD, BUT THAT IT IS SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN AND FOR DIFFERENT PEOPLE WHERE THEY END UP AT DIFFERENT END OF THE SPECTRUM IS SHAPED BY THE STORY THEY HAVE BEEN TOLD.

I THINK THAT MONTICELLO IS A FASCINATING PLACE THAT IS ALWAYS ATTEMPTING TO RESPOND TO NEW INFORMATION AND OVER THE COURSE OF THE LAST SEVERAL DECADES HAS REALLY EVOLVED IN HOW THEY TOLD THE STORY OF JEFFERSON AND THE ENSLAVED FAMILIES WHO LIVED THERE, HAVING GOING FROM FERVENTLY DENIED HE HAD A RELATIONSHIP WITH SALLY HEMMINGS, WHO WAS THE MOTHER OF SIX OF HIS CHILDREN, FOUR WHO LIVED TO ADULTHOOD AND TO NOW HAVING TOURS SPECIFICALLY FOCUSED ON SALLY HEMMINGS AND THEIR FAMILY.

I WAS THERE 30 YEARS AGO AND THERE WAS NO MENTION OF IT AT ALL.

ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO I WAS THERE AND I WAS SURPRISED BY THE FACT THAT THAT CONVERSATION TO SOME EXTENT HAD BEGUN TO BE INTERWOVEN INTO THE CONVERSATION.

DO YOU SEE THAT AS A SYMBOL OF WHAT'S EVOLVING THERE, MORE OF AN OPENNESS AND WILLINGNESS TO TALK ABOUT IT?

I ABSOLUTELY THINK THERE WAS MORE OF AN OPENNESS TO TALK ABOUT IT.

SO MUCH OF THE EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE IS UNDENIABLE.

WE HAVE DNA, WE HAVE SEMINAL TEXTS THAT MAKE CLEAR THE RELATIONSHIP AND GAVE US CLARITY ABOUT MULTIPLE ENSLAVED FAMILIES WHO LIVED THERE, THE HEMMINGSES, THE GRANGERS, THE FAWCETTS.

FOR SO MUCH OF JEFFERSON'S LIFE HE WAS AWAY IN PHILADELPHIA AND PARIS AND D.C. AND NEW YORK DOING WORK ON BEHALF OF THE U.S.

GOVERNMENT.

IT WAS THE ENSLAVED FAMILIES WHO CULTIVATED THAT LAND, WHO BUILT THAT LAND, WHO MADE MEMORIES ON THAT LAND.

AND WHEN WE GO THERE, THEY SHOULD BE HONORED AS MUCH IF NOT MORE SO THAN THE MAN HIMSELF.

ANOTHER LOCATION IS NEW YORK CITY, RIGHT HERE.

I SUSPECT THAT IF I ASKED SOMEBODY ABOUT YOUR BOOK.

IF I SAID HERE'S THE TITLE AND A GENERAL OVERVIEW OF IT, GIVE ME GUESSES AS TO SOME OF THE LOCATIONS THAT MIGHT BE EXAMINED THERE, I WOULD SUSPECT THAT NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD SAY NEW YORK CITY.

IF YOU LOOK AT THE HEADING OF THE CHAPTER HERE, IT READS NEW YORK CITY, QUOTE, WE WERE THE GOOD GUYS, RIGHT?

WHY IS NEW YORK CITY INCLUDED HERE AND WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY WE WERE THE GOOD GUYS?

EACH OF THE SUB HEADINGS AND SUBTITLES OF EACH CHAPTER ARE TAKEN FROM QUOTES FROM PEOPLE WHO MADE STATEMENTS IN THE CHAPTER.

THAT WAS FROM ONE OF THE TOUR GUIDES I SPENT TIME WITH IN NEW YORK CITY AND SHE LEADS AN UNDERGROUND RAILROAD AND SLAVERY IN NEW YORK TOUR.

PART OF THE REASON I WANTED TO INCLUDE NEW YORK CITY IS BECAUSE I DIDN'T WANT TO ONLY INCLUDE PLACES IN THE SOUTH BECAUSE THE SOUTH IS NOT THE ONLY PLACE WHERE SLAVERY EXISTED.

IT IS CERTAINLY NOT THE ONLY PLACE THAT MADE SLAVERY THRIVE.

I THINK A RIGHT A LOT ABOUT THE FINANCIAL AND ECONOMIC INFRASTRUCTURE IN NEW YORK CITY THAT SUPPORTED THE SLAVE TRADE, THAT SUPPORTED BOTH TRANS-ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE AND IF ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND THE SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE THROUGHOUT THE SOUTH.

WHILE SLAVERY WAS SATURATED THROUGHOUT THE SOUTH, THE SOUTH WAS NOT SINGULAR IN ITS USE OF ENSLAVED PEOPLE.

NEW YORK CITY HAD A UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP IN THE WAY THAT IT FOSTERED AND GAVE RISE TO SO MUCH OF THE ECONOMIC PROMINENCE OF ENSLAVEMENT.

I THINK IT'S ALSO IMPORTANT THAT PEOPLE KNOW THAT FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME NEW YORK WAS THE SECOND LARGEST SLAVE AREA IN THE COUNTRY.

THE MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY ACTUALLY WANTED TO SUCCEED FROM THE UNION.

PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS TAUGHT THAT NEW YORK HAS ALWAYS BEEN THIS BASTIAN OF COSMOPOLITANISM BUT IT'S A LITTLE MORE COMPLICATED.

IT'S A MARVELOUS BOOK.

IT'S A MARVELOUS LOOK AT OUR HISTORY.

IT'S A MARVELOUSLY CONVERSATIONAL BOOK.

I MEAN THAT IN THE SENSE THAT YOU ALMOST FEEL AS IF YOU'RE LISTENING IN TO THE CONVERSATIONS YOU ARE HAVING WITH ALL OF THESE PEOPLE.

I JUST WANTED TO GET THAT COMPLIMENT IN, BECAUSE IT IS SO WELL WRITTEN AND SO ENGAGING AND SO THOUGHTFUL AND SO PROVOCATIVE.

A COUPLE LOCATIONS I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT AS WE'RE HOVERING NEAR THE JUNETEENTH DATE.

YOU TALK ABOUT GALVESTON IN TEXAS.

WHY INCLUDE GAVESTON IN THIS SELECTION OF LOCATIONS?

SO I WANTED TO GO TO GALVESTON BECAUSE I WANTED TO BE IN A PLACE THAT REPRESENTED A DIFFERENT WAY THAT THE STORY WAS BEING TOLD.

I WENT AFTER I SPENT TIME WITH THE SONS OF CONFEDERATE REPLENISHED MY SOUL IN SOME WAYS.

JUNETEENTH WAS FOUNDED IN TEXAS.

THE STORY WAS THAT GENERAL GRANGER CAME TO GALVESTON AFTER GENERAL LEE SURRENDERED AND ENDED THE CIVIL WAR AND YET 250,000 ENSLAVED PEOPLE IN TEXAS HAD NOT BEEN TOLD OF THEIR FREEDOM.

GENERAL GRANGER AND THE ARMY CAME AND MADE THIS PROCLAMATION, QUOTE, ALL SLAVES ARE FREE.

THE MYTHOLOGY OF THAT PLACE IS IT WAS DONE AT -- AL EDWARD WAS THE STATE LEGISLATURE THAT PUSHED FORWARD THE LEGISLATION THAT MADE JUNETEENTH A HOLIDAY IN THE STATE OF TEXAS.

THAT COMMUNITY AND UNDERSTANDING WHAT IT MEANT FOR THESE DESCENDENTS OF PEOPLE WHO HAD HAD THEIR FREEDOM PREVENTED -- HAD NOT BEEN GIVEN ACCESS TO INFORMATION ABOUT THEIR FREEDOM FOR SO LONG, TO SPEND TIME WITH THE DESCENDENTS OF THAT COMMUNITY AND THINK ABOUT JUNE TEETH AS BOTH THIS THING THAT CELEBRATES THE END OF ONE OF THE MOST HORRIFIC THINGS THAT OUR COUNTRY HAS EVER DONE AND SIMULTANEOUSLY MOURNS THAT FREEDOM HAD BEEN KEPT FROM SO MANY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF ENSLAVED PEOPLE FOR LONGER THAN IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN.

ONE OF THOSE CELEBRATIONS WHEN YOU USE THE TERM BITTERSWEET THAT'S PROBABLY UNDERSTATING IT.

WE SEE IT WITH MEMORIAL DAY AND OTHERS WHERE YOU'RE CELEBRATING SOMETHING, BUT YOU HAVE TO LOOK BACK AT THE PAIN THAT GENERATED THAT CELEBRATION.

THE VISIT YOU MADE TO A CONFEDERATE CEMETERY, TELL US ABOUT THAT.

SO I WENT TO BLAINEFORD SEMITORY WHICH IS WHERE THE REMAINS OF 30,000 CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS ARE BURIED.

I WAS A CONSPICUOUS PRESENCE AT SUCH AN EVENT.

IT WAS AT TIMES CERTAINLY UNNERVING.

I WRITE ABOUT THAT IN THE BOOK AND DEEPLY UNSETTLING, THE FACT THAT I WAS CONSPICUOUS, I WAS MADE CONSTANTLY AWARE OF THAT BY THE WAY PEOPLE LOOKED AT ME, BY PEOPLE TAKING THEIR PHONES OUT AND RECORDING ME AS I STOOD THERE.

BUT I DID HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH MANY OF THESE CONFEDERATE REENACTORS, THESE CONFEDERATES, THESE PEOPLE ADORNED IN CONFEDERATE MEMORABILIA.

PART OF WHAT I LEARNED IS FOR SO MANY PEOPLE HISTORY IS NOT ABOUT PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENTS OR EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE, IT IS A STORY THEY HAVE BEEN TOLD BY PEOPLE THEY LOVE AND IT IS A STORY THEY THEN TELL TO PEOPLE THEY LOVE.

ONE OF THE PEOPLE I MET, JEFF, TOLD ME ONE OF THE THINGS HE LOVED ABOUT THIS CEREMONY IS HE AND HIS GRANDFATHER WHEN HE WAS YOUNG WOULD GO AND SIT AND WATCH THE DEER MOVE AMONG THE TOMBSTONES AT DUSK AND HIS GRANDFATHER WOULD SING HIM SONGS AND TELL HIM STORIES ABOUT THE MEN BURIED HERE WHO FOUGHT A WAR TO KEEP VIRGINIA FREE.

THAT IS HOW JEFF UNDERSTANDS WHAT THE CIVIL WAR WAS.

THAT IS HOW JEFF UNDERSTANDS WHO HIS FAMILY WAS AND WHAT THEY WERE FIGHTING FOR.

NOW JEFF DOES THE SAME THING WITH HIS GRANDDAUGHTERS THAT HIS GRANDFATHER DID WITH HIM.

SO THERE'S A DEEP EMOTIONAL RESONANCE AND ENTANGLEMENT IN THE STORY OF HISTORY THAT MAKES IT DIFFICULT FOR SOMEONE LIKE JEFF TO DISENTANGLE THE FALSEHOODS AND LIES HE HAS RECEIVED FOR HIS LOVE FOR HIS GRANDFATHER AND ALSO HIS SENSE OF WHO HE IS IN THE WORLD BECAUSE THAT HAS BEEN SHAPED BY THE PEOPLE LIKE HIS GRANDFATHER AND THOSE IN THAT COMMUNITY.

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND HISTORY AS RELIGION, AS MUCH OF POLITICS AS BEING AN HEIRLOOM, SOMETHING THAT IS PASSED DOWN OVER GENERATIONS AND SOMETHING THAT IS NOT SHAPED BY ANY PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENT BUT SOMETHING MUCH MORE TIED TO HOW WE UNDERSTAND OURSELVES IN RELATION TO THE WORLD AND THE STORIES WE WANT TO TELL OURSELVES.

'HOW THE WORD IS PASSED, A RECKONING WITH THE HISTORY OF SLAVERY IN AMERICA.'

WHAT THEN DO YOU SAY TO SOMEBODY ELSE WHO MIGHT BE A PERSON OF GOOD FAITH IN THE SENSE THAT THEY UNDERSTAND OUR ROLE IN THIS INSIDIOUS INSTITUTION AND EVEN UNDERSTANDING THAT THEY DON'T FEEL IT'S PRODUCTIVE.

HAVE SUCH A DETAILED FOCUS ON THE PAST.

HOW DO YOU ANSWER THAT?

I THINK WE CAN ONLY UNDERSTAND WHY OUR COUNTRY LOOKS THE WAY THAT IT DOES TODAY IF WE UNDERSTAND THE HISTORICAL PHENOMENON THAT HAVE SHAPED IT.

I WANT TO GIVE A READER A SENSE OF OUR PROXIMITY TO THIS TIME.

SLAVERY IS SOMETHING THAT EXISTED IN THIS COUNTRY FOR 250 YEARS AND HAS ONLY NOT EXISTED FOR ABOUT 150.

THIS INSTITUTION EXISTED FOR 100 YEARS LONGER THAN IT DIDN'T.

THE WOMAN WHO OPENED THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN MUSEUM WAS THE DAUGHTER OF AN ENSLAVED PERSON.

MY GRANDFATHER'S GRANDFATHER WAS ENSLAVED.

SO THERE ARE MOMENTS WHEN I THINK ABOUT MY 4-YEAR-OLD SON SITTING ON MY GRANDFATHER'S LAP AND I AM REMINDED THAT THIS HISTORY WE TELL OURSELVES WAS A LONG TIME AGO WAS IN FACT NOT THAT LONG AGO AT ALL.

THE IDEA THIS INSTITUTION WE'RE ONLY A FEW GENERATIONS REMOVED FROM WOULD HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT THE LANDSCAPE LOOKS LIKE IS DISINGENUOUS.

I HOPE THE READER CAN UNDERSTAND AND FEEL OUR PROXIMITY TO THAT TIME IN A DIFFERENT SORT OF WAY.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT EBB AND FLOW IN TERMS OF AWARENESS AND WILLINGNESS TO EMBRACE THIS AWARENESS AND UNDERSTAND OUR PAST?

YOU SAW AFTER THE TRAGEDIES, THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD, WE SEE A FAIRLY UNIFIED MOVEMENT SAYING THIS IS IMPORTANT THAT WE KNOW ABOUT THIS IN ORDER FOR US TO DEAL WITH THIS.

AND NOW WE'RE SEEING A BACKLASH, WE'RE SEEING A PUSHBACK.

WE'RE SEEING GOVERNMENTS STEP IN, GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES OR CERTAIN LEGISLATORS STEPPING IN AND SAYING WE SHOULDN'T EVEN BE TEACHING THIS IN THIS FASHION BECAUSE OF, AS THEY SAY, DESTRUCTIVE QUALITY.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT EBB AND FLOW?

ARE WE GOING TO BE SENTENCED TO LIVING WITH THIS FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES OR DO YOU SEE ANY CHANGE IN THIS PATTERN?

THIS IS THE STORY OF RACE THIS THIS COUNTRY.

THIS IS THE STORY OF SO MANY THINGS IN THIS COUNTRY WHERE THERE IS A RELATIVE AMOUNT OF PROGRESS MADE AND THERE IS A VIOLENT INTENSE SOCIAL AND CULTURAL PUSHBACK TO THAT PROGRESS.

WHAT IS UNDENIABLY TRUE IS CERTAIN PARTS OF OUR COUNTRY HAVE GAINED A MORE SOPHISTICATED FRAMEWORK WITH WHICH TO UNDERSTAND RACISM AS A STRUCTURAL ONE, A SYSTEMIC ONE.

THE THING I TELL PEOPLE IS TEN YEARS AGO IF YOU HAD ASKED SOMEBODY WHAT REDLINING WAS, THEY WOULD HAVE SAID, LIKE IS THAT A MAKEUP?

IS THAT LIPSTICK?

BUT WE ARE NOW IN A PLACE WHERE MORE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND REDLINING AS A STATE SANCTIONED MECHANISM BY WHICH BLACK FAMILIES WERE PREVENTED FROM BUYING HOMES AND ACCUMULATING WEALTH THAT WE KNOW HOMES TO BE OR TO GENERATE.

THAT IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE WAY THAT I THINK MORE PEOPLE IN THIS MECHANISMS BY WHICH RACISM HAS OPERATED THROUGHOUT OUR HISTORY SO WE MORE EFFECTIVELY UNDERSTAND THE REASON ONE COMMUNITY LOOKS ONE WAY AND ANOTHER COMMUNITY LOOKS ANOTHER WAY IS NOT BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE IN THOSE COMMUNITIES BUT WHAT HAS BEEN DONE TO THOSE COMMUNITIES GENERATION AFTER GENERATION AFTER GENERATION.

THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER DESTINATIONS AND I WISH I HAD THE TIME TO TALK WITH YOU ABOUT THEM, BUT THE VIEWERS SHOULD GO GET THE BOOK AND READ ABOUT THEM.

YOU TALK ABOUT THE LOUISIANA STATE PRISON AND ITS FOUNDATION, IF YOU WILL, AS A SLAVE PLANTATION.

YOU TAKE THAT ONE JOURNEY ABROAD WHERE YOU GO TO SENEGAL.

IT'S CALLED THE HOUSE OF SLAVES.

I REMEMBER SEEING IT YEARS AGO.

IT'S HAUNTING.

SINCE WE DON'T HAVE THE TIME TO TALK ABOUT THAT, I'LL MAKE SURE PEOPLE DO.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU, ABOUT TWO MINUTES HERE, IN THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK YOU HAVE A QUOTE BY FREDERICK DOUGLAS.

IT READS 'THE DUTY OF TODAY IS TO MEET THE QUESTIONS THAT CONFRONT US WITH INTELLIGENCE AND COURAGE.'

ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC THAT WE WILL HAVE BOTH THE SOCIAL WILLPOWER AND THE POLITICAL WILLPOWER TO CONFRONT THESE ISSUES IN OUR PAST WITH, AS FREDERICK DOUGLAS SAID, BOTH INTELLIGENCE AND COURAGE?

I'M HOPEFUL THAT WE WILL.

WHAT I BELIEVE IS THAT I'M A PART OF A LINEAGE OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE FOUGHT TO BUILD A BETTER WORLD EVEN THOUGH THEY REALIZE THEY MIGHT NOT SEE THE BETTER WORLD FOR THEMSELVES.

AND I THINK WE ARE ALL PEOPLE WHO HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO HOLD CHISELS AGAINST THIS SORT OF METAPHORICAL WALL AND CHIP AWAY AS MUCH AS WE CAN AT THIS WALL OF OPPRESSION, THIS WALL OF SOMETHING THAT ATTEMPTS TO JUSTIFY THE SUBJUGATION THAT PEOPLE ARE CONTINUING TO EXPERIENCE AND WE CAN ALL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHIP AWAY AT THIS WALL.

WE DON'T KNOW IF THIS WALL IS 6 INCHES THICK OR 600 MILES THICK, BUT THE MORE WE CHIP AWAY AT IT, THE LESS THE PEOPLE WHO COME AFTER US HAVE TO CHIP AWAY AT.

WE ARE WORKING TO BUILD A BETTER WORLD, A MORE EQUITABLE WORLD, A MORE JUST WORLD NOT NECESSARILY SO WE CAN SEE IT FOR OURSELVES, BUT THAT SOMEBODY SOME DAY WILL.

IT'S OUR JOB TO PUSH THAT FORWARD.

THIS BOOK, YOU CAN CONSIDER IT ONE OF THE CHISELS TO HELP US MOVING FORWARD.

IT'S A MARVELOUS WORK.

THE BOOK IS CALLED 'HOW THE WORD IS PASSED, A RECKONING WITH THE HISTORY OF SLAVERY IN AMERICA.'

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

IT'S A MARVELOUS BOOK.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

YOU BE WELL.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

♪♪♪

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION, THE JPB FOUNDATION.

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