tv Chatter on Books Podcast with Wil Haygood Tigerland CSPAN October 14, 2019 8:31am-9:48am EDT
>> host: george pell institute of core technology, gigi sohn, and patrick halley of u.s. telecom. thank you both for being on "the communicators." this can indicators and all other episodes are available as podcasts. -- this communicators. >> you are watching an extra day of booktv on this three-day weekend. coming up next, a reporting of the "chatter on books" podcast with author wil haygood on his recent book "tigerland" about race and sports.
>> we are good to go. welcome everybody. we are back with "chatter on books" and happily we already disclosed location, one more page books in arlington we take books, wine and chocolate more seriously than we take ourselves. thank you so much for letting us be here. >> thank you so much for coming. it's going to be out in the open. my name is jeanne mcmanus, later we're going to be speaking with wil haygood who i'm honored to meet. the book will talk about a lot of things that talk about "tigerland" which is remarkable book about some really incredible young man at a very difficult time. a couple of the things on tap, random thoughts, i know you're the you. >> i kind of obsessed with look at bestseller list you hate.
i take the bullet for the team but i'm always interested in something that pops up unexpectedly, and i talked a couple of weeks ago about these books that were decades old popping up, "to kill a mockingbird," was a prime example, and we know why and we know why "the handmaid's tale" was there. but this week of the "washington post" bestseller paperback pops blue highways. this was a book that was written, was published i think in early eggs can written in 1978. this was a guy i think an english professor and yet lost his job and the separated from his wife, and he got in a ford econoline van in 1975 van, and wrote what he called the "blue highways." this was before gps and before google maps.
and he got the rand mcnally map of the country, and all of the back roads were colored blue and those with the roads he chose to take. and so he went to 38 of the 50 states and just kind of learning about america, learning a lot about himself. remarkable book on the "new york times" bestseller list i think for 40 or 45 weeks for something like that. he's written of the books but i think is best known for that. i cannot figure out for the life of me why it popped up. >> you worked at the "washington post" if you got some conspiracy theory. >> is there some anti-gps movement that's rising up from the people, the streets? some for econoline van fans. >> it would be hard to do because it's hard to find real maps. you could go into any gas station, i don't think we called
and gas stations anymore, you could buy maps. it's hard to find it anymore. >> if anybody has a theory, he is still alive in writing books. he is the author of i think it's english, irish and osage background. his father was he's boon -- keith moon. i don't know what happened after him. and the other thing i want to tell people about, and this is something that's not for everybody but my sister mary sue is here tonight is wonderful book. it is called on the street, iconic photography, a fashion
photographer for the "new york times" for decades. rode a bicycle to the streets the new york with his landmark sort of blue coat on. everybody recognized him, and he photographed the famous and not so famous at all street people, street fashion in particular. he was brilliant at spotting things. as you go through this book from each decade has an essay or two written by somebody who work for the "new york times", a a starlight professional writer, just talking about what it was captioning in that decade. if you were alive in any of those decades, and i was quite alive for all of them, and quite capable of buying incredibly bad fashion and see your life sort of flash before you as you read this book and cd is horrible shoulder pads that you know you yourself are guilty. >> dynasty. >> moonlighting.
>> you just sit down and pick it up and flip through it and have really good time. >> on my really failed careers was find a photographer. back in the day when he was doing that and becoming well known, he was kind of controversial because he's not -- he didn't pretend to be. he was not a great photographer in the sense of setting the scene and lighting but he was just out there all the time. he would see something two or three times, he was a dreadful cycle and women essay that must be something. then we can discount aversive, was the chronicling ration or was he promoting? people of course corporate america started trying to get to them. just have to be a couple of beautiful models walking down fifth avenue. >> but he had a pretty good eye. he had a pretty good detector. >> integrating, great book come just to flip through. whenever talking about agatha christie? none of us read but we all admire.
to kill a mockingbird the near times to three times a week the will be enormous bad in the print version of near times for the play take a mockingbird so that has to be helping the we'll talk about agatha christie now she was and do it now those movie coming out in november called knives out and it's been called agatha christie like christopher plummer, all sorts of famous people in a come eight, nine, ten different famous people. it's getting and 90% on rotten tomatoes. i don't know i do that but that's a very high score but the wrapping up all this agatha christie the good know if you like i should read one of her books at least. >> to the baby at the table. have you ever read in agatha christie? >> i have not. >> ron charles of the
"washington post" book critical that on the show at his site was if you don't like his newsletter, subscribe to his newsletter. you haven't lived until he seemed to the spectacular video dressed as a cockroach and it's really good and interesting. keep its essential a warning in his last newsletter, were going to see a for a books about whistleblowers coming out. that which is the glory, and entourage and he said 20, 30 years ago maybe two or three well-known journalist write the books that have because of self publishing and everything else, there were publicly wondered. he said keep your powder dry, let's let them come out and then decide. we won't talk about whistleblower books but especially since we had the washington crowd to come over the born and raised in d.c. where are you from? >> arlington. >> same thing. although those of us who live on as a set of the roof of an talking, this is far away. very far away. the c-span crew, were very thrilled here, left at 8:00 this morning to make sure they got
here. got to make sure you leave time for traffic. thithis is a whistleblower quiz, pop quiz. i'll just you a few of these. >> my answer for everything is mark felt. >> that one is too easy. although this great -- give a little description. new york city police officer later portrayed by al pacino in the audience can yell out -- >> serpico. >> who was famous for what? >> he was a cop who told on the cops. >> and blue the whistle on corrupt cop. >> he ended up, he left the force after being shot in the face of ligament out of the country. >> if you ever seen the movie serpico that is one of the most harrowing scenes you'll ever see in film getting shot in the face. >> that will stop you. >> like serpico played in the movie named for her. that should be a clue played by
meryl streep. >> silkwood. >> good job. >> i forgot this. she died misters in 1974. >> that's right. driven off the road. >> my personal favorite because i've a personal connection with this one, and washington it's all about how can i check myself in this story former white house staff member was a key figure in the monica lewinsky saget. >> linda tripp. >> excellent. >> did you know that would? >> i knew linda tripp but i was coming up with libby. >> extra points though. what does linda tripp have a store and what kind of store is it? >> i want to say arizona. i don't know if that's correct or not. >> anybody in the crowd no? it's called the christmas light, middleburg virginia and its 3065 days a year a year a christmas trenches married to an austrian who walks around in lederhosen all the time. you go out on the big
anniversary of her affairs with monica lewinsky, that are always tv crews out there and 81 their deeply resents it. >> name of injured his granddaughter was? >> jacqueline? >> no. >> was that the granddaughters name? [inaudible] >> i told will earlier this show is sort of a book but wandered all over the place. >> to time to your he would give you an audience when you are covering the redskins. it was my turn i went in and he was berating someone on the phone and he slams the phone to and isotonic of how are you, mr. concords because you don't care how i am. just ask your questions. >> kind of trio. >> what did you ask him about? >> that crappy team. eric nothing ever changes.
last one. this might be my favorite. i didn't tell why the linda tripp -- i go to work at the pentagon and in 2000, first part of 2100 this crazy public affairs department or i call some and up say before i start, if you could send me something, organizational chart, something that shows me what i might have. it's a binder three and half inches thick because the military does not do anything less than three and a half inches thick. on top of it was one of those diagram charts and had my office and the outer office and little desk trenton and someone and had written some of the great since income handwritten linda tripp thastatue. which i thought was great. last one can speak in mr. trump army soldier, court-martial in fort meade, maryland, for document provider to wikileaks. kind of a trick question. [inaudible] >> bradley. >> there we go picnic summer
talk about talk about whistleblowers it will be about books. >> the woodwork book about mark. very good. [inaudible] >> woodward will not be on the show, just telling you that. that's all i'm saying. i could do whole show on bob woodward. several stories about bob woodward turkey one time in the book gave me the middle initial of victoria a clark which for interesting because i middle initial is not only a, i don't have a middle name. i kind of thought he's making that mistake for another time. lilia come over to you. welcome or thank you for welcoming us to your store. >> welcome to you. thank you so much for coming all the way over here. >> never again. [laughing] >> we will see you once every -- >> we have wine though.
quite good. >> you was a book by her extraordinary. a harry potter fan, she's attic, right? >> all correct. >> we talked levit on the store the last time we had you on the show. >> it did take me three hours to get home but i did stop for food. >> you've had some challenges here at this wonderful, wonderful place at 2200 northwest in origin where everyone should. >> easy metr metro access. >> you've had some challenge and security has responded. tell us about that. >> usually july and august are slow months for us. that was not the case this year. we found out in july our real estate taxes went up 30% of we had to pay the back taxes at the beginning of the year. which is a big chunk for us as anyone, a big jump for anyone i think but as a bookstore you know our margins are a little on the small into.
you can't just charge more for books because your taxes went up because they stay right there. it was a big surprise for all of us and our owner was a trooper and she said i guess we'll just have two sort of tell people what's happening so that they know. she sent out an e-mail to all of our newsletter subscribers and we were very open with our customers and regular people in the chimeric that know us and sort of said like this is what's going on, this is what's happening and why. the response was so immediate and so supported that it really, i won't say it made up for the 30% increase but it really did help and sort of warm our hearts to see how much people were being vocal about wanting us to stay here and continue to be part of arlington, and how quickly they all wrote letters to the arlington county board which we consent here's what you can do if you want to help. you can come in and spend money, but also a joy to write to the
board. they were from what i inundated with letters which was come is really incredible to see you post an app for us and getting them to maybe do something about it a little bit. the board members were very responsive as well, once they saw we're going to make it a thing. but it was, that was a tough couple of weeks and we said what can we do about it asked the board set it's not our call. we can't change what your tax rate is. that's a different sort of group, and so was like what are we going to do what we brainstormed and came up with an idea to do an auction or people could bid on things and we solicited offers and people in the community and a lot of people just offered things. i got an e-mail from someone who i have not met and i do pretty often so i think most of her regulars compacted mechanize this to and he said hey, i have these two bottles of wine, or
that i would love to donate to your auction if that something too interested in. it was really amazing to see people, everyone wanted to get something. i thought i was being annoying by e-mailing authors and sang hey, you take time out of your really busy life writing books and all the stuff to help us out, anything you can get? of course, there's this, what you want? do you want more? a really beautiful show of support and we ended up with 90 different items or services that we had in the auction, and people were bidding on them with great enthusiasm. a lot of the restaurants that we have in our area, if you all haven't then, there's a place across the street that's amazing. there's a café down the street come also these wonderful local places and there are so supported as well. so the auction was a huge success. we ended it, having achieved a goal that we sort of had as a
dream, not thinking we would come even remotely close, and people really showed up and turned out and it was just a really special think. >> was it like the end of it's a wonderful life? >> just like that come almost rightly so, exactly. it was really incredible and we're so grateful to everybody, the authors, community members, somebody came in come he said he lived in richmond now i think i gegive managers before and just came and said hey, i will tell because of the county make a donation? people have been so kind and generous in their support and that's why we're hoping we can stick around. >> do want to put some money in my mug on the way out to ask. >> you an and i were talking bee the show. it's a real challenge running a bricks and mortar place. it's easy for people to sit home and tap on the computer and order a book of five books. so give them a pitch why they should walk into a place like
this or another local books or summer. >> any local independent bookstore what you get a unique experience and i think that's going to be different in each one which is sort of people on its own. i love to walk into it at bookstores when visiting other places or if i make it into city ever. >> you do that? >> we can offer number one,, things like this, an event where you can hear and often speak about the book and signed it, or an amazing podcast. we do have wine tasting. if nothing else you can just show up for the wine tasting and not buy a book. i'm not keeping track. we won coming up on friday if anyone wants to come back. >> i would get a hotel room this time. >> there's an econolodge right there. it's great. i think what we offer is, we become sort of come you can tell from our slogan we are very
quirky is one way you could put it. a lot of personality and when you come in i hope that comes across and to some that might be offputting but we're definitely who we are in that we all have unique we read different genres and happy to talk to about them. unless its major history than i have nothing to offer you. i think that something we really sort of the braised is our staff and just being ourselves and try to create -- >> a twitter account. [talking over each other] >> please follow rumba. you will not regret it. if we all stay here until 9:00 you see it in action. the other day it just started going. for no reason i could discern, which was a little disconcerting because it's scheduled hypothetical to start at 9 p.m. sometimes you need nice midday
clean, i don't know. >> becoming self aware. >> you should follow the rumba. we started patriarch, another one we did a response. a lot of extra content is like as having shenanigans and also rumba. i would start with a twitter and if you're into the rumba you can become a patriot member and get to know him. >> one more rumba. >> it's very funny. >> thank you. we try, we try. >> tell us about one book we should be reading that we probably are not. >> i'll mention -- that so hard, so much pressure, but i will say the one i'm reading now which is infinite baseball. obviously, nationals fan so it's
a good time for baseball. >> at least for the next 24 hours. >> right. i'm trying to read it quickly because i'm afraid some things would happen i do when i be interested in baseball. it's a great collection of essays and above they are short. i was reading on the metro on the way to again and he talks about the things about the game you so you don't necessarily think about all the time. i'm a big opponent of i don't think we need to make the gains the faster there's a couple as his about that, about scorekeeping and looking at it from a philosophical point of view at ho that we as people are trying to essentially tell a story when keeping score and a baseball game. you're not just run down this is the statistic in your assigning blame or credit is somewhat. i just love the way he makes you think about the game. i highly recommend that and i think it's not one that's nestled on everyone's radar for baseball books, absolutely not. you can get on your way out. >> iq against very, very much.
we're going to take a break, swap you out for wil haygood and will get on with "chatter on books." >> thank you so much for having me. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations] >> we're back of unity. it's "chatter on books", very happily added disclose location, one more page books in arlington, virginia, which is as far away as that sounds. our featured author today is tonight is wil haygood and the rule on "chatter on books" if we really like to come which i think we do is i hope the book of a lot so c-span can get this a lot. you have written about white house butlers, boxers, entertainers, supreme court justices, and this book "tigerland" which is about highly improbable festival and baseball teams from 1968-1969 and are so many ways we can get you these conversations would have to start with this. in addition to being an award-winning journalist yourself, this book has the nominee for many, many awards.
probably the greatest accolade i've ever heard oprah winfrey called you honey. she called you honey. can you tell us how that happened and why and what was it like? >> it must have been when we were making the movie, the butler. we were filming it down in new orleans. >> based on article you had written. >> yes, about this white house butler what worked in the white house for 40 years, from presidents harry truman to ronald reagan. i was called on the telephone at home. i was sitting on my couch eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and the phone rings and it's pam williams, was one of the producers of the movie, attitude and think that the
movie was even happening. it was like several years after the story was bought that i heard anything from them anyway, then i started hearing from the people who were making the movie, lee daniels, wonderful director. he directed the movie. anyway, pam williams calls me and says hey, we finally found the actor who is going to play the butler. and i said, oh, great. who? and she said forest whitaker. and i said, come on now, really? who's going to play the butler? she said no, no, no, really, really, wil, forest whitaker. and i said my goodness, wow.
and the next day my phone rings again and pam williams says, we finally found the actors who's going to play the wife of the butler. and i said, great. who is that going to be? and she said, oprah winfrey. and i said okay now, let's stop joking here. let's roll onto the series part of this conversation. she said, wil, sit down. and i said, i am sitting down. >> with my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. >> well know, this is the second day. >> different lunch. >> and she said, oprah winfrey is going to play the wife of the butler. and then the other cast members started rolling in. there was lenny kravitz, jane
fonda, vanessa redgrave, robin williams, cuba gooding, jr. clarence williams iii. link from the mod squad. a man of very few words. when i was a kid growing up in ohio, there were very few blacks on tv, and he was one of the stars of the mod squad. he was a man of very, very few words on that show, and so will when i was on the set, my first day seating, link from the mod squad on the set, i would over to him and i said, excuse me, mr. williams, but when i was a kid and i used to watch you and i was so inspired by seeing you
on tv, and i'm just excited that you are a part of this movie. he was wearing sunglasses on the movie set, and return to to me and he said, who? [laughing] >> into a conversation. >> and that was it. sorry, mr. williams, you roll on over here. >> but oprah was kind of a pout on the set. >> yes. she was filming a segment for her show and she came, and she came down the hallway and i was standing someplace on the movie set, and she said, this is the guy who started it all. >> wow. >> wil haygood. >> good for her for knowing it have the time the actors wouldn't even know, much less care for good for her for
knowing. >> she so into her book club. >> good point, good point. >> she knew, and she cared. yeah, i mean speed what did you tell us if we started taping, eight oscar winners when that movie? >> yes. >> by any standards that's a lot. .. >> but i asked you, you wrote-- the movie was based on an article that you wrote, and you wrote the article, it appears. the next day what happened?
>> the next day i had received phone calls from seven movie companies. >> yeah. david that happens to you every day, doesn't it? >> every day. >> you're writing about the redskins and the calls come in the next day. >> leave me alone, gracious. i'm only one man. [laughter] > >> wil, you had aspirations of being an actor as a child. >> yeah. my introduction to hollywood, i wrote a biography, a 450-page biography of sammy davis, jr. and i get a phone call from my agent who says, hey, can you go to new york city next week to meet an actor who wants to direct your sammy davis, jr.
book and make it into a movie? and i said, oh, who is the actor? and she said, denzel washington. >> oh. >> and so i said, let me check my calendar. [laughter] >> and so i said, yeah, of course. i mean and so, i go to new york and meet with him and at the end of this meeting which lasted about two hours, he wanted to go out and get something to eat. and so i said, well, wait a minute now. with you walking down the street in soho, i said, it's going to be people stopping you
every five minutes. and he said, wil, just follow me. i walk extremely fast. and by the time somebody said excuse me, i'm gone. and so that's what he did. and so he mentioned -- he mentioned that he wanted me to write the script and anyway, so for the next year and a half i worked on the script and he came here to washington d.c. one day and he wanted to meet. and he mentioned this exclusive, exclusive restaurant that he wanted to go to, to take me for lunch and i said, hey, denzel, man, i'm sorry,
man, but like, this is washington d.c. and the place is going to be packed and we aren't-- and we aren't going to be able to get in there and he looked at me and he said, oh, yes, we will. [laughter] >> and he's so cool, he got out the car and just walked right in and he was a -- here is a table for you, mr. washington, right over here. >> what was the restaurant, do you remember? >> i can't think of it, but the chef -- the chef came out and the chef gave him a box of steak knives, you know, a brand new-- >> sure, that happens to me all the time. when i go to ruby tuesdays the chef comes out and says, here, some steak knives. >> a box of really elegant
steak knives. [laughter] >> really kind of -- but anyway, so and the option dropped and he wasn't able to make the movie, but now lee daniels and tom hanks have the rights to my sammy davis, jr. >> that movie is going to get made. >> yeah. >> and i'm on my way-- >> you're just slumming it, just hanging with-- man. >> hanging out. >> that's fabulous. >> it is, yes. so, okay, again, chatter on movies coming soon. let's get to tigerland because you've written about all of these incredible figures, important figures in history. what made you talk about the personal connections, 13-year-old haygood who watched lamar play, and the basic
setup. 1968-69 columbus, ohio, deeply troubled times should have been desegregated, but certainly wasn't, a very segregated community. tell us about how you got into writing the story. >> yeah, when i was a little kid who lived on the north side-- >> you also were an aspiring athlete, but coaches didn't recognize your brilliance, is that what i heard? >> you've done your research. yes, i dreamed that i -- i dreamed that i could possibly become an athlete and i love basketball. and i always got cut from the teams and always had to go ask the coach for a second chance. and i was cut from two teams and i asked the coach for a second chance.
this is like something for students out there because both coaches were so shocked, so stunned that a player who had been cut had the audacity, the nerve to ask them for a second chance, and anyway, but when i was 13 on the north side of the city and it was integrated, but you knew about this great all black high school on the segregated east side and so my mother wasn't going to let me catch a city bus alone to go over to the east side to see east side high school play. but the east high tiger basketball team would come to the fairgrounds coliseum which was a seven-block walk from my house. and so you're a kid and you hear about this all-black style
ish very cool basketball team and you want to go see them play. little black kid, then i can see these guys play. and so i would go to the fairgrounds coliseum and i would watch them play and they really were the whole east side. i mean, martin luther king, jr. had been assassinated in the spring of-- >> april of '68, right. >> yeah, and school starts that fall and since this is an all black school, you know, the mayor and other people in the city are sort of afraid and thinking, well, this all black school is going to cause trouble. there's going to be walkouts and they're going to agitate and they're going to talk a lot of militancy, and there's going
to be trouble in the whole school system because of east columbus high school. but jack gibbs who was the principal, the first black principal there, he flipped the switch. he said, look, we know that the city is going to be watching us, so let's really have good, calm, intelligent year here and what happened over those next 300 days, however many, i mean, nine months that the, you know, that the school year was, what happened was astonishing. first they win the state basketball title and eight weeks later and they win a state baseball championship. two state titles in the same school year. >> with some overlapping players? >> yeah, yes, yes, with several
of the players who were on the basketball team were also on the school's basketball team. and then, i mean, the story, the story sort of vanished from history. nobody wrote about it. if they were white and did this, they would have been on a box of wheaties. i have no doubt about it. the story just vanished, and i would go home and i would sometimes run into those players, some of the players, and one of them, the guy named garnet davis ran into me at his store and he started talking about east high and sports and and i said, man, they had a super basketball team and he said well, we won the state championship, too. i said who is we? he said i was on the baseball
team and we won a state championship and i said, when? >> you didn't even know? >> i didn't even know that, right. i mean, and i said when? he said in 1969 right after the basketball team won their championship in march, we won ours in june, and i said no way, man! no way! but the next day i had to fly out of town back here to washington nonstop at the local library because i wanted to make sure that i was hearing him right. and i got the microfiche and started scrolling, scrolling. >> you might need to explain for our viewers, listeners. >> sort of like the rosetta stone, sort of further down the line. >> you watched it on the screen, that's all we can say. >> the newspaper, and scrolling by and i get to a headline and the headline says "east high
wins second state championship in 60-day span" and i leaned back in my chair, this is like five years ago and i said, now, that's a book. >> eureka. >> yeah. >> i just said, now, that's a book. i just, i mean, it was to me, it was as involved, maybe, i mean, as deep, as rich, as friday night lights. >> hoosiers. >> hoosiers. >> "remember the titans." >> yes, speaking of denzel, exactly. >> a close personal friend who is now our close personal friend. >> yeah, we're going to the restaurant with him. >> hey, d. [laughter] >> i mean, and so my editor called me after i had finished my last book, which was called showdown and it was about the
confirmation hearings of thurgood marshall, the first african-american to sit on the supreme court and my editor asked me what i wanted to do next and i said, well, there's this all-black high school in my hometown and 1968, the school starts, east high school. and they win in the state basketball championship. and then some of the same players and they're on the baseball team then the baseball season starts. they lose five games during the baseball season and they storm back, make it to the tournament, start winning games and make it to the state
championship game and they win a state championship. some of the parents and the school teachers of the segregated school all of a sudden are inspired to figure out why this school is still segregated, still poor, so they file a lawsuit because these players have inspired them, a lawsuit against the cities, against the city's segregated school system. the lawsuit goes all the way to the u.s. supreme court and they win a major ruling by the u.s. supreme court and the roots of that case stems out of the inspiration from these black players. >> but go back to 1968 and '69 and the back we're talking about is tigerland. it's really, really remarkable. these were kids. they were 16, 17, 18 years old.
many of them from one parent households. >> right. >> incredibly tough conditions. several of them talk about how hungry they were half the time, they knew they wanted to play basketball really well and baseball and knew they wanted to win. did they know it's about something more important, realize at some point, what they were doing actually had significance beyond what was happening on the court or the baseball diamond? because it did. >> here is, i think, here is what was a key to their lives at that point. jack gibbs. he was a black man. >> first black principal of that school, right? >> east high school, and he was born in harland, kentucky in a very tough neighborhood and he didn't want to work in the coal mines and so he hitchhiked when
he was 14 years old to columbus to be with another family relative because he figured that the school system there was much better. and he had a sister who died in infancy in harland, kentucky and jack gibbs every sunday had to walk his mother up a hill to the segregated cemetery so his mother could put roses at the flower-- roses or flowers at the gra gravesite of jack gribbs' infant sister who had died and i went to harlan, kentucky and walked up that hill and then i
walked back down the hill and it just hit me, the reason jack gibbs cared so much about those kid is because he did not want to metaphorically leave any of them alone on a hill and so he kept them out of trouble. he was just an amazing figure. now have to realize almost none of these players had ever had anyone in their family who had gone to college, but the basketball coach, bob hart, had served in world war ii. he's white. bob hart. >> at normandy.
>> he was at normandy. bob hart. he was upset by the way the black soldiers had been treated during the war and so when he came out of the war and went back to college, he wrote his senior thesis in college on the unfair treatment of the black soldier in world war ii. now, this is in 1946, 20-- >> before the army was desegregat desegregated. >> and for him to be thinking like that was really pretty astonishing and he wanted to teach at this all black school and he never told these players that he was in the war. they didn't know about it until i wrote this book. >> wow. >> and they were all astonished
that he had never talked about the war. i mean, and when you look at th this, none of those players had family members, as i said, who had gone to college and so this really was that first wave of martin luther king's dream, you could say. i mean, high school kids not in the south, not in mississippi, not in alabama, but high school kids in the north who were still suffering the pains of segregation. >> yes. one of the threads that runs through the book is martin luther king, his work, his assassination and in so many of their homes there would be a picture of martin luther king.
and jeanne, you grew up with a picture of jfk on the wall-- jesus christ and jfk. >> no, we didn't. >> the minister in this community was a man by the name of reverend hale knew martin luther king, jr. sister was a dear friend of martin luther king, jr.'s wife. and so there was a real family link between the hales and martin luther king, jr. reverend hale brought martin luther king to columbus. >> talk about the moms. so many players, single parents, mostly moms. moms were working, talk about
the moments. >> almost to a person, these mothers worked as maids for well-to-do white families and when i went to interview the white lamar, who is the athlete on the front of the book-- we like wil and this book so we'll hold it up often so people can see it. >> i asked him what his mom did for life, you know, her work and he said -- he said my mother had my dreams every day, wil, and she was a maid and i said, man, so she had to get on
her hands and knees and work so that you could eat, right? and he broke down. i mean, and it was -- it was just so touching and that character on the front of the book, mr. lamar, was in the 11th grade and got kicked off of his basketball team by his white coach because he had a big afro. >> this is at another high school, north high school. >> north high school. so think colin kaepernick size
afro, but his mother had come from the south. that's something else. all of the mothers had come from the south. they all had fled the south because when they were 14, 15 years old themselves, the one boy who stuck out in their mind who they couldn't let go of was emmitt till who had been, as we know, lunched and murdered by several white men because they thought he had whistled at one of their wives. so these mothers in their mindset, their thinking, i have to get out of the south. i mean, and so -- and they all came north. but, but so when he got kicked off of this team-- >> in 11th grade, an extraordinary player. >> yes, he led the city in
scoring. >> he was given the choice, right, cut your afro or leave the team and he went home and his mother said you do what you got to do and he left the team and kept the afro, right. >> and his mother said, i didn't come-- i didn't leave the south and come north for you to give up your dignity or your rights. so i will stand behind you 800%. now when i was cut-- >> because of unenlightened coaches, let's be clear. [laughter] >> from the basketball team, it felt like my life had ended, i was crushed. i was just crushed. i ran down the hall knowing that my name would be on the coach's door and i -- you know, and my name wasn't there and the tears would just come, you
know. i was in the eighth grade. tears, oh, you know, my life is over and i was out practicing all summer. and i got cut. so this guy led the city league in scoring and the coach kicks him off of the team. jack gibbs, black principal at east high school, and another teacher runs into dwight lamar, now they of course can't tamper, but they say, wow, we all heard what happened to you, mr. lamar and goodness, gracious, if your mother should ever decide to move to the east side of town. [laughter] >> oh, over at east high school we would love to have you be a part of our student
body. >> but only if she's thinking about that. >> yeah. so i talked to one of the school teachers who said on the first day of school at east high, mrs. lucy lamar walked into the principal's office and said, i would like to enroll my son in this school and i have just moved two blocks away into a low income public housing project. and i mean just to think of-- >> the guts. >> the strength and the guts that that took. >> and then think of the scene in the movie because there will be a movie and we will all be invited, the coach, bob hart and his staff in the office going yes, yes, yes! >> now, here is a scene that is, i mean, i almost -- i would
like to, i don't know, to write a whole little essay about this team. so i'm from the north side of town. so is dwight lamar from the north side of town. so all of the guys my age, 12 and 13 knew who he was. >> he was that good. >> he was that good. yes, we all knew who he was. so east high school's first game that season was at-- in fairground coliseum on the north side. but bob hart would not announce to the media who his starting five is going to be. so we're all like small kids running around, i wonder if he's going to start? maybe not, east high has had a tough team. 's got to start that, would be heartbreaking, man. so the first game is at the
fairgrounds coliseum and so me and about six friends go and we don't know if he's going to start and so, ladies and gentlemen, the east high tigers, starting five, starting at one forward ed ratliffe. yay! and everybody would close around the other players sitting on the bench. >> so you couldn't see. >> yes, you couldn't see who was getting ready to stand up and run out on to the court. starting at center, kevin smith. yeah, yeah, yeah! starting at the other forward, nick knicknick connor. >> yay! >> and starting--
>> where is bo? >> and starting at the other guard, starting frlamar! we just die, man, we were all so happy then, i mean, i mean, that was amazing. i mean, yeah. i mean, that was amazing. >> and were you there. >> i was there. >> that's so great. >> i was there. >> so great. >> you have such obvious affection for these fellas and their parents and their lives, really, and i always worry about this when you write about sports especially, can really descend quickly if you're not careful. how could you balance that? telling the story and enough for selling people the idea? >> that is a super question,
david. i could do this for a living. [laughter] >> i, in this book, and would tell you a story about sports. >> yeah. >> and then the next chapter would be -- it would be titled what the mothers feared most, and that would be about emmitt till, and then the next chapter would be some more basketball. >> yeah, sure. >> and then the next chapter after that would be about all of the horrible things that had happened outside of sports in this midwestern town because we think civil rights and we think in the south. >> right.
>> and we don't think northern, northern pain when it comes to civil rights. >> it's so true. when you started the book, it came down and this is a book about this can-do team. right from the start it's so clear it's about the racial landscape of columbus, but of the united states at that moment in time in 1968-69. and it's about so much more than just that team. but the story of the team is so uplifting. >> yes. >> it offsets this horrible injustices that were taking place all around them. >> for instance, for instance, there is a-- i mean, there was a guy robert duncan who wanted to be a school teacher, but he's black. all of the school teachers were sent to east high school who were black, but when he went to
apply there were just no openings and so he's at a standstill in life so he has to alter his life and so robert duncan said i think i'll go to law school, i think i'll go to law school. so robert duncan goes to ohio state, ohio state university school of law and he graduates and he becomes a well-known lawyer. on the black side of town. but he's from a small town in ohio and his family knows william saxby who worked in the nixon administration, who might not have known mark felt. [laughter] >> who's deep throat.
and so robert duncan starts to ri rise. judgeships, and when nixon is falling apart william saxby convinces nixon to nominate robert duncan to a federal judgeship. this is karma. these athletes win their case. they win their case -- i mean, they win their sports and they win these two championships and then inspires these black parents to file a lawsuit saying that the city has unnecessarily kept the school system segregated.
the case lands on the desk of federal judge robert duncan. >> sweet. >> amazing. >> it is, i mean, just look at that. i mean-- >> you just wait long enough. >> yeah, and so-- >> the word improbable just keeps coming up as you and i were talking before. if you haven't seen hamilton greatest thing in the word what are the odds the gods would put all of these people in the same place if it weren't for saxby, bob hart, robert duncan. pretty remarkable. >> i'm going to make you read something and hand it over and it's the last paragraph in the book and speaks to what i think is so remarkable. these 16, 17, 18-year-old kids may not have known the impact they were having. >> right. >> but they had a huge impact
and i bet you remember this last paragraph. >> almost by heart. >> oh, good. can you do the song, too? the tiger song still? >> yes. >> go ahead. >> it was a great-- >> a great cheer. >> rallying cry and it's throughout the book. and it's ♪ i went down to the river, oh, yeah ♪ ♪ and i started to drown, oh yeah ♪ ♪ i started thinking about them tigers, oh yeah ♪ ♪ and i came back around, oh, yeah ♪. [laughter] >> go tigers! when i was in-- when i was at home for the first event for this book last year, and -- and they had a marching band from the school march down the street with me.
>> nice. >> and the players. >> oh, wow. >> and everybody started singing. ♪ i went down to the river ♪ >> it was amazing. i mean, and now there is a street named after this book, tigerland way. there had been no marker, nothing for the players and i'm very proud of what the city has done. >> finally. >> yes. >> at your urging. >> mayor ginter really stepped up and he really cared about this team and that year and what happened. >> yeah, so he made it happen. your idea, but he finally made it happen. >> yes, he made it happen. >> all right, it's the last paragraph in the book, right? >> yeah. >> okay, go. >> in time columbus proved to the nation that its citizenry
could adapt to legally enforced integration. in time the city received mra plaudets from the department and even washington. in time as the years rolled out, the citizens would look back 1968-1969 when a group of black high school basketball and baseball players had created their own legend. they had helped to bring hope to a city, giving it a reason to cheer and also proving there was more than one route to dr. king's mountaintop. >> nice. [applause] >> awesome. so, wil, i know you wanted to
be an athlete, you wanted to be an actor, i'm glad it didn't work out. >> failure. >> failure, you just keep working, keep working, something might click one of these days. [laughter] >> all right. we're going to take a break from the sublime to ridiculous. and we'll come back, take a break and wrap this up. fabulous. thank you for being here. really great. [applause] >> oh, it's got to be a movie. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] i'm going to become wil's intern and restaurants. let me know when you're ready. we're back with chatter on books. we are at one more page books in arlington, being at a place we can talk about. >> and thank the crowd. >> thank this lovely crowd for getting out here. great. [applause] >> train, planes, automobiles to get here. we could go on for hours with wil talking about tigerland and his book. we're going to do desertion island, and 20 hours from now, a big, important game. will you be there? because you cursed them last
time? okay. [inaudible conversations] >> but in honor or your nats and a terrific comeback, two months ago we would not have been talking about it, we are going to do our favorite comeback stories and i'll go first. unbroken, the story, lauryn hillen brandt, washington d.c. person and if you've not read "unbroken", she's got her own story. you think of the worst thing that happened to louie, he's in the army shot down over the pacific and is stranded on a raft for 40-plus days. you think that's the worst that could happen. no, he gets captured by the japanese, p.o.w. and you think that's the worst thing that can happen and finally gets home and terrible problems with substance abuse and survives. that remarkable, remarkable story. beautifully written. david, we're coming to you last you clearly did not do your
homework. jeanne. >> the comeback, the odyssey. okay? he goes through a ten year war-- >> thank god michael is not here tonight. he's coaching the golf team or we would have another half hour. >> captured and ten years back to ithaca. before he gets there, he encountered a cyclops who throws a boulder and locks him in a cave, him and all of his men. and he has cannibals to deal with. he has lotus eaters to deal with. he has sylla and he has sirsy who turns after of his men to swine and has to convince to turn back to men and kicked out the god poseidon and poseidon wrecks whatever craft he's on. he gets back finally after ten years to ithaca and has to slay
all of these unruly suitors who have been after his wife penelope. it all works out for him in the end, but that's a pretty --. >> 20 year track. can you top that, david? >> oh, i'm sorry. >> wil, do you have one for us? >> all the president's men. [laughter] >> which is about a corrupt and conniving man in the white house who is full of bizarre, petty feelings about other people and who inspires staff members around him to lie. [laughter]
>> and who-- we need another half hour. i don't know what your plans were. [laughter] >> never repeat itself. >> and who thinks that his transcripts won't be used against him. [laughter] >> but he has-- but he's in for the surprise of his life and there is a house impeachment that is started, that is started. and that was the end of richard millhouse nixon. >> good pick. and i didn't give you any heads up. >> i had a chance to think
about. >> just one laura hildebrandt, sea biscuit about an incredible group of people incredible failures at everything, including the horse, by the way. and the horse was a terrible horse. didn't win anything and this trainer who was kind of a nomad who didn't really have-- didn't really have any success-- hadn't had any success as a trainer and a jockey whose family had been incredibly rich was subject to the great depression, they also everything. they basically-- >> kicked him out of the house. >> they told their son you have to go, there's nothing for you here and owner of the man who wound up buying the horse, lost his son to a terrible accident, terrible, awful accident when the son was 10 years old, his wife left him. all of these broken people all are made whole by this horse who had nothing going on. and all of a sudden he became
one of the great champions of all time. >> now, this is really, really, really something else because it all comes back to oprah. >> thank you, yes. >> and oprah's listening to this show, she's welcome anytime. >> one of the actors in sea biscuit was danny strong and danny strong wrote the screen play for "the butler". >> wow. >> what part did he play in-- >> a beautiful screen play. >> what part did he play in the movie? >> he was one of the jockeys. >> wow. >> okay. >> wow. >> how about that. >> small world. >> danny strong wrote the beautiful screen play for "the butler." . >> that's incredible, wow. >> the other one is, more in line with this because i don't want to crib off your stuff, truman. >> you made my dad so happy. >> he was a failure at
everything he did, and wasn't good at anything and became a politician in his mid 40's and became the president of the united states. >> it's one place where you can fail up and up and up. [laughter] >> pretty good for pulling it out. >> we know you've been a little busy lately. [laughter] >> very busy. so a little housekeeping, download us, review us, those of you who have reviewed us, thank you very much, they've been lovely reviews, tell your friends and relative. and one more page books, thank you, good luck, we're here for you, we're never coming this far again, but great the one time we've been here. jeanne and david thank you for the trek. and wil, it's an absolute honor and join us next week we are going to have zack powers again. we were supposed to have him a few weeks ago, he got caught up in dorian, the hurricane, he's fabulous. thank you, everybody, and see
you next week. >> thanks, guys. you really are the best. >> thank you. [applause]. [inaudible conversations] >> you're watching book tv on c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. book tv, television for serious readers. readers. [applaus [applause] >> thank you, good evening. i'm ron richard president and ceo of the cleveland foundation and i am delighted to welcome you to the 84th annual ainsfield-wolf book award named for its benefactor edith ns