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tv   The Capitol  CSPAN  November 28, 2009 8:00pm-11:00pm EST

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three branches of american government. we and tonight with an inside view of the capitol. later tonight, a look at ways to encourage americans to vote in the presidential election. .
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>> mr. speaker, we meet today at a location actually selected. >> is a magnificent old building. . the dome is the world's most recognized symbol in american democracy. >> what is unique about the capital is that it continues to tell the story. >> here is a place that you can come and have the battle of words and ideas. >> i am in thrall by the senate chamber. if the walls could speak. >> as you look at the
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statuary's, it is the history of this nation. >> we saw the capital as a place of hope. >> the irony is that it was slave labor that built this temple. > standing at the eastern ede of the national mall, the u.s.
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capital has been home to the american congress and say 200. -- since 1800. 1,770 feet long and almost 300 feet high, it has grown over the centuries as the country has grown. it is here where visitors have always come to hear the timeless function of congress going on. while it is open for tours, its private spaces far outnumber those that the public can see. built with an architectural style based on ancient greek and roman principles, it is a working building. and a museum with statues of notable americans sit here by each of the 50 states. historic old rooms and
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corridors ornately decorated with painted walls and ceilings. the rotunda is where the senate and house shares it is here that the ceremonies of our nation take place. it is you're the paintings, architecture and statuary -- hear that the paintings, architecture and statuary reside. > in the rotunda, you can see everything. it tells you the story of american history and how we have struggled to define it and describe it and to show the world what it means.
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the thread that ties all the people together, you can identify by name. it is the notion of expanding the rights. expanding -- expanding rights. other countries have ideologies, but it is america's fate to be an ideology. >> representing that ideology is george washington. >> george washington's statute in the rotunda is a picture of -- is a depiction of george washington out of many depictions of george washington. there are busts of washington. washington is the single most represented person in the art collection. the city is named for him, he picked the site of the building. he laid the cornerstone. he is so connected to it. >> after choosing a site, and
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then laying the cornerstone in 1793, of it was washington's -- it was washington's desire that it be completely done in 1800. >> washington's vision for this building was something large, magnificent, and would command respect and would make americans of every state love their country better and would be in the affections of all americans. that is his legacy. >> while washington's aspirations for the building and the federal city that it looks out on have been realized, his hopes for what he called a congress house on the banks of the potomac being finished by 1800 would go unfulfilled. that was due to construction, labor, and weather delays. as you look at the capitol as it is today, it does not resemble
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at all the building in its early years of occupancy the house, senate and supreme court all shared space in a small box like structure. a summer league -- a similarly siad -- sized building was constructed. in 1826, the building that washington desired to be done by 1800, and now called the first capital, would be finished. it was complete with the rotunda of lying under a copper dome connecting the two wings of the building. as you make your way from the rotunda in to the senate wing, you come into the oldest part of the capital where the large sandstone blacks, hauled into the building by slaves, the old columns that mark the interest
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into one of the early house chambers and the plaques on the walls give you hints of how the space was used from 1800-18 07. -- 1807. the nation's business and the history of the capital's beginnings intersect. as members of the press are escorted into the sweet of offices used by the senate republican leader, they walked into an inner sanctum of the building not seen by tourists, into rooms where thomas jefferson, henry clay and daniel webster walked and into the very beginnings of the capital's history. >> from 1800 to 18 02 -- 1802, it was a library of congress. after that, the supreme court from about 180621808 was in this room.
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-- 8006 to 1800 -- 81806 to 1808 was in this room. -- 1000 861,808 was in this room. -- 1806 to 1808 was in this room. this was the house of representatives. one was want to be president and one would be vice-president, so, 36 votes later, thomas jefferson became president. >> with his election in the house, thomas jefferson became the first american president inaugurated in the u.s. capitol. >> no president in the history of the republic enjoyed a
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greater role in the development of the capital ben thomas jefferson. -- capitol than thomas jefferson. jefferson had a lifelong love and was responsible for bringing the first italian sculptures to america. that planted the seed that continues to this very day, that the building is something beyond shelter. it tries to record history and appeal to our instincts to
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allegorical representations. it helped ennoble the experience. >> the impact of jefferson is most clearly seen in statuary hall. >> with the south wing completed during jefferson's presidency, the house moved out of its temporary quarters and into their new chamber in 1807.
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>> in that room, you see allegorical statuary. you see the wonderful corinthian columns. when the hall of the house was first used in october of 1807, it was a a claim that to be one of the most beautiful rooms if not the most beautiful room in america. imagine being a congressman in 1807. when you come to this unfinished capital in an unfinished city, but you go to the interior of the south wing, it must have been breathtaking. >> it was the most beautiful room in the united states, they said. it is a gorgeous room. except for the purpose for which it was built, so the people could hear one another. the acoustics were dreadful. for the public, it is amazing how much that we build resembles
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a real approach. you used marble. you cannot expect the acoustics to be good, and they are not. people would babel away -- babble away. sounds whispered at one end could be heard in another position. >> to help with the sound problems, large red drapes were hung all round the hall. with the house now residing in its own wing, the original north section of the capitol was reconstructed. with both wings now completed, construction had begun on the middle part of the building until tragedy struck in the summer of 1814. the war of 1812 made its way to
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washington. >> with a very inferior force, they swept the americans assaad and came to washington, seized it, and burned every public building. they burned the capitol, they burned the white house, and they did not burn the one place that they were told records were kept, and that was the patent office. >> the nation suffered a humiliating blow. that was when the british burned the capitol and the white house. congress came back shortly after the british left. they convened in temporary quarters. one of the first things they debated was whether or not to keep the capital city on the rotunda. some held it as a failed experiment, a silly thing to do
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to build a city for the federal government. that did not hold up against those that were reminded that the city was founded by george washington. george washington's name was invoked time and again -- evoked time and again. we had no choice but to rebuild here on the potomac. in order to honor washington, one must repair the public buildings on their original sites. of course, that is what they did. >> with the capital in ruins, congress moved across the street in a building that is the current location of the u.s. supreme court. called the brit capital, it was this structure where the senate and house would meet as they waited for the damaged capital -- called the brick capitol,
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it was the structure or the senate and house would meet as a waited for the damaged capitol was rebuilt. >> what is unique is the corncob columns. he was trying to incorporate american features into the building. we did not have a lot of american objects or symbolism, yet. megyn corn -- maize and corn was to meet. >> this is one of the few things that survived the fire of 1814. the first professionally trained american architect, it was this
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man that completed the north and south wings before the fire. again, he was hired to rebuild the capital following the fire. as you make your way through the dimly lit corridors of the oldest part of the building, you pass by the republican office and the old senate chamber, finally reopened for use in the winter of 1819. >> i would have enjoyed being in the old senate chamber on the
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day that it reopened. a marvel of architectural engineering, a marble of the american can-do spirit -- a marvel of the american can-do spirit. it must have been a contrast to everything around it. everything else in the city was muddy and dusty. everything else in the country, where most of the people lived in log cabins, there was this incredible temple to the legislative process with the marble columns, imported italian marble caps, wall-to-wall carpet, luxurious draperies, it must have been a stunning sight. henry clay of kentucky, stephen douglas of illinois, daniel webster of massachusetts, and
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sam houston of texas, that is just to begin. this was the very apex of the golden age of the senate. everything was cleaning and the -- everything was gleaming and the air was fresh melon. -- a fresh selling. -- fresh smelling. this was like the floor of a stock market merchandise exchange just before the closing bell. it was the only place people had a place to work. a senator's desk in the senate chamber was his office. there was no other place to go. >> imagine no electricity, no furnaces. you also see some spittoons here, as well.
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the carpet's would not have looked like that very long. looking at those spittoons at the senate chamber tells you a lot. every senator had his own. there were patterns all over the floor. >> and do you know who charles dickson -- charles dickens was? he said if he dropped his back on this carpet, he would not even pick it up with the glove -- with a glove. >> this was the room where the senate became the senate that we know today. would they first moved in here, it was a pale reflection of its modern cells. it was the rubber-stamp for the house of representatives. all the sudden, 1819, 1820, the
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major issue before the nation became slavery. the great thinkers that were in the house of representatives began to decide if it was a group of states or something > a group of states. >> people used to line up at dawn to hear william webster speak. everybody felt that it was not the greatest speech ever heard, they could tell their children and grand children that they heard webster speak. i speak today, not as a no. man, but as an american. >> henry clay use it in the back of the senate chamber -- used to
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sit in the back of the senate chamber. i think henry clay never wanted to turn his back on any of his enemies or friends. he became synonymous with compromise. he was able to keep control over the senate. people charged him with being a dictator. he said he was not a dictator. he was just a senator. he knew that he was the dictator. whenever john c. calhoun came into the chamber, there would be a buzz in the gallery because he was a dramatic man. he resigned from the vice presidency to become a senator. it started -- he started out as a nationalist and ended up as a section lost. -- section lialist.
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he had to sit and listen as another the center red for him. his life was absorbed in the united states capitol in one way or another. while it evokes the history of webster m. calhoun, it became a shrine to current members. it is an important space in the united states capitol. they remember those great centers of the 19th century. -- centers of the 19th century. -- senators of the 19th century.
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>> with the north and south wings done in 1819, work finally began in earnest to build the center part of the capitol. the rotunda, huge. >> the original idea that the center space for the united states capitol, the great ceremonial space would be a circular room, a rotunda capped with a dome. >> when this was being built, he was the big thing in town. >> -- it was the big fan in town. -- big thing in town. >> the founding fathers were very familiar with ancient rome.
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probably some more familiar with roman than their own states, jefferson in particular but washington and others. -- with room then their own states. jefferson a particular but washington and others. gospel jefferson and -- a jeffen particular, but washington and others. as construction of the lower 48 feet of the rotunda near completion in the 18 twenties, -- in the 1820's, congress look back at how would be presented to the country. -- look back at how it would be presented to the country. -- looked back at how what would
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be presented to the country. >> the discussion comes to whether or not congress would buy the paintings of that a painter had been trying to sell the government for some time. the great paintings showing the american revolution. when congress appropriates the money to commissioned the artist for four of his paintings as a memorial to the revolution is sanctified. these four paintings are now just bought by congress with the idea that someone ago when the house side -- go on the house signede or the senate side. they were meant for the rotunda.
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the declaration of independence. the surrender of for goia gener. the surrender of cornwallis. and finally, and interestingly, washington resigning his commission. that was james madison's decision that that would conclude the series. someone had thought of bunker hill, but james madison said it was such a magnificent event when washington resigned his military commission, returning military authority back to civil war to that had granted it in the first place. he said that it was such an act of selflessness that this must be remembered as an event just
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as great as the beginning of the war, the turning point of the war and the completion of the war. >> with the theme of independence providing the backdrop, and the marquis de lafayette was honored for his service during the revolution. the rotunda that lafayette would have seen was still a work in progress as italian sculptors worked to carve different scenes into the stonework above the doorway is. >> of the sculptures and above the four doors into the rotunda -- the sculptures above the four doors into the rotunda show to violent encounters with daniel
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boone in the wilderness and pocahontas saving the life of someone and the landing of the pilgrims with a native american handing in ear of corn to one of the pilgrims. it was an act of welcome and friendship. the last one is penn's treaty. >> you will see an alleged 38 feet above the floor that rings the space. that is where the original dome began lifting itself above the rotunda. a dome that was finished in 1826. in the same year that the country was celebrating its 50th anniversary of the declaration of independence. >> when the capitol was
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finished, it became known as america's temple. >> the irony is that it was slave labor that built this temple for freedom. >> freedom for some was predicated on the enslavement of others. the united states capitol was constructed by in slave laborers as well as free blacks. i wonder what they thought of laboring at the capitol and building the structure that was going to house the senate and the house and our government. i cannot imagine working under
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those conditions and not being free myself. >> it says something terrible that free men raise a symbol of freedom that is built by slaves. >> my favorite part of the united states capitol is that on the senate side, you can see some of the original sandstone, the huge blocks that were laid by slaves. it is original. it has not been touched. it is something that you can actually see and to give you a dramatic view of what type of labour they did. those blocks are so huge. it must have been difficult labor.
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>> we are standing in what is probably the most famous building in all of america. what's inside this building that the slaves themselves helped construct, there is no telling of them in the capitaol's story. >> i think that real history needs to be revealed. it was a place where the founding fathers had slaves in their possession. it was probably not uncommon to have a stone masons and people who did hard labor and doug the foundations that were part of a working society and they could have been slaves. it is part of the history. we should not be ashamed of it.
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people should understand the history and culture under which this place was built. >> inside the chambers, the debate of what to do about the issue of slavery, disagreements over the federal bank and indian policy began to loom over congress. andrew jackson was inaugurated on the east front of the building in 1829. >> andrew jackson was the first president to be inaugurated on the east portico. jackson was the first president to be inaugurated on the portico because the united states capital was now finished. he was the first to see the finished united states capitol at his inauguration. >> he was the first president to be assaulted in the small rotunda. he could have been killed.
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it is miraculous that it didn't happen. >> he was in the united states capital to attend the funeral that took place in the old hall of the house. following the ceremony, jackson took this path towards the center of the building as he attempted to make his way through the crowd and outside for his ride back to the white house. just before he reached the rotunda, chaos ensued in the small vestibule, leading into that space. >> this man decided that andrew jackson was preventing him from becoming the king of england and pulled out a pistol and fired it. instead of backing off, he has is a walking cane and he goes after the man to strike him and the man pulls out a second pistol.
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bang. again, it misfired. he used a very fine powder, to ensure that he would kill jackson, and the humidity help the gun from firing. -- kept the gun from firing. >> congress commissions for more paintings located on the eastern wall. the team chosen in the 1830's was the exploration and settlement -- the athena, chosen in the 1830's, was the exploration and settlement of america -- the theme, chosen in the 1830's, was the expiration and some of america. -- and settlement of america.
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>> these were all very romanticized. the artists of imagination was running over board. particularly when one looks at the painting of the baptism of pocahontas. it tells me nothing at all about pocahontas. it tells me nothing about jamestown. it tells the a lot about american romanticism. >> when you mention of native americans, it shows up all lot of places with pocahontas and william penn. it is interesting because it is all over the capital. in the rotunda, -- >> you get a real sense that what the artists are talking about is america and american expansion.
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america's destiny to populate the entire continent with citizens of the united states. in order to justify that, they needed to do paintings that aren't just showing people planting flags on nebraska, but scenes that people will recognize. why does america get to go from the atlantic to the pacific because they are in the process of doing that. they showed americans as the symbol of what america can do. there are images of americans civilizing the native americans. there are images of americans being subjugated, violently, by the conquering europeans.
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there are images of native americans as childlike people that need to be taken care of. they take these simple, natural people and help them. there is a native american that is crouching down, even if he stood up, he would be taller than the pilgrims and he offers in youand your of corn. -- an air of corn -- an ear of corn. in this sculpture, he looks eye to eye with the native american. if you look at the picture, there the same high.
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>> this is not the way the story would be told today, but it tells you a lot about the 19th century attitudes and the doctrine of manifest destiny. >> with the first united states capitol completed in the 18 twenties, it is less than 30 years before a bigger building is needed -- in the 18 20's -- in the 1820's, is less than 30 years before rebuild -- a bigger building is needed. is this dome that we see today. -- it is this bill that we see today.
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-- it is this dome that we see today. >> for me, being able to drive into work every day and see the dome of the capital, the highest point in the district by law, it stands out. it is the citadel of freedom both domestically and internationally. >> people all over america recognize the dome of the capital even more than the washington monument -- of the united states capital even more than the washington monument. i think it is the symbol of freedom for america. >> what you see is a composition of a great domed center building with these wings that reflect the american congress. the dome has got to rank well up
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in the roster of a magnificent achievements in architectural know how. >> it is literally a dome within a dome. it is held together by 9 million pounds of cast iron. >> the dome does not look like a feat of engineering, but when you go up into the dome and you find yourself between the shells, you are amid a 36 huge cast-iron trestles that cold not just one dome or the other, but they actually hold of both. the dome is so magnificent, if for no other reason and then that it is a transitional structure.
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>> with the country growing rapidly, the first capital that was completed in 1826 -- the first united states was completed in 1826 -- by 1850, they expanded the senate and house wings and with construction under way on the extensions, it was decided in 1855 that a new dome would be needed to architecturally complement the new wings. it was left to thomas walter and montgomery meigs to do something that was unprecedented. >> without any committee hearings, congress authorized removal of the old tone and construction of the new after just a few minutes of debate.
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architect had an appropriation of $100,000. >> they voted for it, thinking that it could be constructed in just a few months using $100,000 but it took 10 years and $1 million. we see the slow but steady progress of the dome. i think that one of the great things about the history of the capital is how well it is documented. certainly the advent of photographic documentation is one of the great benefits of being a historian today and looking at the wonderful photographs that were taken of the capital, particularly to record the construction of the new dome. the first photograph that was taken on january 80, 1856, shows
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the old don't removed -- dome removed. you had to have a lot of faith that these architects and engineers had not made a blunder by taking off that old of dome. one photograph showed these come now that was an open sore -- one photograph showed a canal that was an open sore. we can appreciate this ordered condition when we see these photographs taken by a photography that is recording the prague -- the progress of the dome.
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there are few that show other things that are very intriguing. at the beginning of the civil war, there is a construction photograph showing the dome in 1861. almost invisible, in the foreground, our soldiers standing at attention. >> it was being built when the war started. it was decided by congress that we do not need to spend a lot of money on this dome when we have a war to fight. they decided to appropriate no more money, which meant that the work would stop and the people who were building it recognized that with vandals and weather, all of the materials lying around could be destroyed. they decided to continue to build it, hoping that when the war ended, that congress would
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pay what was owed. as it rose, it could be seen by the confederates, and that could -- that was the symbol of our nation. >> we were told the story of abraham lincoln ordering the dome completed as a sign that the nation would continue. that story is only partly true because it was the contractor's decision to continue the dome and president clinton used the contractor's decision to be a symbol of national resolve. it was not the administration's decision to continue the construction of the dome. seeing the dome under construction by the tens of thousands of union soldiers that marched to washington, facing an
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uncertain future -- marched through washington, facing an uncertain future, gave them a sense of continuation of the country. that great white dome, rising slowly above the capital, was a symbol of the future of a united country. it was seen as a sign of a successful outcome of a civil war, reuniting a country that had been torn asunder over the issue of slavery. >> on top of the symbol of unity stands a statue of freedom. it was put atop the dome in the summer of 1863 while the war still waged on. >> the way that the architect decided to finish off the
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exterior of the building had the statuary. the architect felt it was better to finish off the united states capitol with a statue. the supervising engineer wrote his favorite sculptor who was living in rome and ask him to come up with an idea. in his letter, he said he did not think it was a good idea for it to be washington. the sculptor thought that a figure of freedom, triumphant in war and peace, would be a suitable figure. that delighted him. he authorized the sculptor to come up with a design which the secretary of war, jefferson davis, approved.
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he disapproved of the liberty cap that the statue was wearing. jefferson davis concluded that american freedom should not be symbolized by the badge of freed slaves. it was requested that the statue be modified. the sculptor substituted the liberty cap with a helmet of an eagle feathers. -- helmet of eagle feathers. the head and shoulders of the statue were mounted into place on top of the dome of the united states capitol. >> the most interesting part of my research has been the statue of freedom, which was cast in bronze by a slave laborer named
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philip reed. it is so ironic that the statue of freedom was cast by enslaved person -- by then enslaved person. he was freed by the time she was raised to the top of the united states capitol. philip reed had been freed for over a year when she was placed atop the capitol -- atop the capitol building. >> tonight, c-span concludes three nights. if you would like additional information on the supreme court, the white house, or the u.s. capitol, visit the web site at c-span.org and there you will find links and histories of the
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three buildings as well as the institutions that they house. that is that c-span.org. -- that is that c-span.org. >> a unique journey through the iconic homes of the three branches of the government. see the supreme court through the eyes of the justices. go past the velvet ropes to the less scenic places of the white house and explore the history, art and architecture of the capitau.s. capitol. it is $24.95 plus shipping and handling. order online at c- span.org/store. >> c-span concludes its look at the u.s. capitol with a look at the dome.
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>> any trip to the top of the dome is a treat to any visitor today as it was when the dome was first completed in the 1860's. >> i wish every visitor had an opportunity to come here and be able to go on a dome tour. to go up to the top of the u.s. capitol on a beautiful day and look out, it is something to behold. you get so close to the painting that is unbelievable. then, you come out and walk around the dome. you see how the city, washington, is laid out.
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>> where are we going and how far do we have to go? >> you are going into the dome, about 252300 stairs. -- 250-300 stairs. start watching your head and your feet. there is yellow and black tape, but be aware of where you are walking because at times, it does ankle. -- and go. -- angle. >> it is a long, narrow, and sometimes tiring trip. one enters the two were by climbing a staircase that lanzhou on top of the roof --
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detoured by climbing a staircase that lands you on top of the roof -- the two werour by climba staircase that land to one top of the route. -- lance you on top of the roof -- lands you on top of the roof. that is where you start the tour of the dome. you have a back staircase to a little door that puts you through the brick work and through this massive by million pounds of brickwork that were added to nknit the new i were to the old. you go through an opening and duck your head down as you go and you turn into the first
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visitors gallery. when you are at the first visitors gallery, you are in this narrow aisle. it seems specious because you have the entire 1 million cubic feet of the rotunda to one side of you and these large windows to the east on another side of you. you can look up the windows and see the supreme court and the library of congress or you can look down and see the people in the rotunda below. you can look up and see the great painting. you continue up these series of steps until you go through a door which puts you into the space between the outer dome and the inner dome.
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it looks as if you're in the whole of the ship. you see these large, incredibly heavy, strong trusses that curve up and hold the inner dome and the hour drum -- and our dome -- and after dome's -- and outer dome. to see the back side of the coffers, when you see the interior dome, they look great when you see them on the floor below. there are spectacular we see there from the backside. when you are going through the myspace -- through the space, it winds its way through the
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tresses and over the arching belly of the interior dome as it makes its way to the second visitors gallery. >> this is 18 stories, and you were not at the top of the dome. you can talk as loud as you walk up here and they cannot hear you in the rotunda. if you go to the other side, you can hear my voice perfectly. -- you can talk as loud as you want to appear and they cannot hear you in the rotunda. -- you can talk as lot of shoe want to appear -- you can talk as loud as you want to appear --
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up here and they cannot hear you in the rotunda. this is a fresco and a mixed paint and water to gather. it is the most durable kind of painting there is. they hired to the painter for the capital because they liked that kind of work. >> you can see george washington. he is ascending into the heavens to become a god. he knew people would be looking at it 18 stories down. but he also put the details in a because he knew people would be up here looking at it.
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-- in it because he knew people would be up here looking at. ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> it is also to stand in the rotunda and see the painting -- it is awesome to stand in the rotunda and see the painting. >> the artist but george washington in the center of the capital. -- put george washington in the center of the u.s. capitol. he portrayed him as a saint, and it was common to show him like that in the 19th century. " i think it represents what it is supposed to. he is being treated as a god. >> @ -- >> i think it represents what it is supposed to. he is being treated as a guide.
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-- as a god. >> he is ascending into the heavens and he is surrounded by the 13 colonies. to each side of him are to figures -- two figures and one is holding it looks like an ax and sought a bundle of sticks. it is an ancient roman symbol of authority of government. that reflects the ancient roman idea that the roman people are strong, but the idea that we create a great nation. . .
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>> minerva is talking to robert fulton and others about their invention, and in the background is an electric generator and batteries. there were battery back ups like that in the dome. they were used at night, the gas jets that provided the light at night, it was a wire with an electric arc. these were in the capital, and then they had neptune, the god of the sea, and venus, and you wonder what that is. they are helping lay the
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transatlantic cable, which was being delayed when the painting was not finished yet. it carries the telegraph from the united states to europe. it is brand new, and he was very proud, interested in new technology. there is a mccormick series. it is kind of a strange combination of the modern and classical gods. >> and that is all of the symbolism and the apotheosis, the wonderful fresco on top of the dome. it is an amazing story, the apotheosis, and it is a crowning jewel in the capital. >> when you leave the second visitors gallery and again go of a stair that leads one way and
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switches back and comes back another way, to weave its way back through the structural members of the dome. it ends up at a platform level below the statute of freedom. >> you walk through some tiny, narrow little hallways, and you realize the growth of the country, where we had one dome, in 50 years later we had another dome on top of that. walking up to the statue of freedom on top, and then looking out at the 360 degree panorama. this is the heart of democracy around the world. as you are ascending that stairwell, which not many people see, you realize what a wonderful, moving, magnificent building it is. >> you get a great view from the top of the capital.
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you see the senate office building, you see the house office building, you see the supreme court's, union station. you could look towards washington national airport. >> the plan of the city is easy to understand from on top of the dome, the avenues all converging on to the capital. >> it is almost the first time some of the streets in washington make any sense. you are looking down at them almost as if you are in the air, and you see them all converge on the capitol building. is a great experience. -- it is a great experience. >> looking at the capitol from the west, you see at either end of the building the extension that were built in the 1850's to accommodate larger house and senate chambers as the memberships of each body expanded along with the
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population growth of america. to the left is the no., senate wing of the capital. all the way to the right is the southern, house wing of the building. as you make your way south to the old hall of the house, today called statuary hall, you leave the boundaries of the chamber that was used from 18 07 to 1857 and coming to the south wing extension, directly toward the door of the current house chamber, originally opened up in december, 1857. >> the gentleman from michigan is recognized. >> this congress must not walk away from its role. >> this is a bill that deals with constitutional rights. >> i urge my colleagues to support this bill. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from pennsylvania.
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>> will the members please remove their conversation from the floor. >> mr. speaker, we meet today at a location actually selected by george washington. >> we teach about this place, what happens inside of this building, the people who interact here. the things that happen here are unique around the world. >> the legislative body is like a heart beating. it comes and goes, comes and goes. it would just be fascinating to watch it go like this. >> the house of representatives in the data states is made up of average people. there are some bright ones, brilliant ones, and there are some not so brilliant ones. they're good, bad, all the foibles of the american population. >> you do not come here to fail.
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you really want to make a difference. too often, americans think of them as just criminals. another famous joe about -- the famous joke from mark twain. he said in the united states we do not have the criminal class, except for congress. they are windbags. they care only for their own interests. they are greedy and such. >> this house is where we fight the battle of ideas. at the end of the day, we make the law as that govern the nation. >> i cannot help but think about the previous debates, debates about going into world war ii, debates about coming out of the depression, debates about world war i, at a time when guys were here fighting the progressives, doing the things they had to do to try to get their agenda crossed. it is an interesting place.
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this place is steeped and steeped in history. >> the house really is the people's house. i think members have to remind themselves of that. there have been a lot, how many thousands, of predecessors who have served, and there are many to come. and the history of this chamber and its traditions is what constitutes for many, their love and affection for the institution. >> every day that i walk on to the floor of the house, a look at the speaker's rostrum and i see the american flag, literally the hair on the back of my neck stands up. >> this is where president kennedy stood. this is where president reagan stood. president clinton. this is where queen elizabeth stood. this is where president mandela stood. it is a great feeling with a
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group of visitors to say the president walked down this aisle, he goes around to the first podium, has a copy of his address, gives that to the speaker and to the vice- president. this place is recognized all over the world. [gavel] >> this is a working building and this chamber is a working chamber, but there is so much that you cannot see on television. when you visit the chamber, it opens your eyes. it is very much like the experience written on a page, and then seeing it come to life like a play or at a museum. it is a wonderful example of how the day to day activities that are so important to the
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governing of the nation and the furthering of our goals as a nation are held up by the decorations, some of the decorations that we cannot even begin to describe how important they are. they are symbols and images that support what we do. ♪ >> i want to measure and take a look at this and see what is going on. but it the measurements. >> when i walk into the house chamber to check on art, the first thing i noticed are the
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symbols that are in there. the symbols that are there are very important. the cornucopia, next to the clock, a traditional american symbol of abundance, the fruits of liberty. there are stars, the new star in the front of it, the united states, the stars and stripes. there are lots of other things, there are the fascis on either side of the speaker. all of these rods are bound together in ancient rome. individually, they look like a staff or read, put them together and they are strong. it is a traditional symbol of the roman republic, in which the people ruled. those are there, too. you go in the chamber and you raise your eyes up, and there is a wonderful silhouette almost of an eagle with its wings spread. up there in the sky. it is rather like a skylight,
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although it is covered from behind. it is not open to the heavens, but it is a wonderful eagle. the thing i love most about it is the sense that is spreading its wings over the day-to-day work of the congress, the great aspiration as seen in that great symbol to the nation. it is the american bald eagle. when the congress is in session, the mace is also there. it is been there since 1841. it, too, is a bundle of ebony rods, topped by a terrific eagle standing on top of it. i>> i think traditions are important. when you forget about the traditions, to forget about the flavor of this place. the maze is interesting. every time i see the speaker of the british house of commons, i
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accuse him in 1814, when the british burned the capitol down, they also stole our mace. you read the stories of former speakers, when this place got rowdy or people got out of hand, there was a fight on the floor, you had% the mace. it is a symbol of what this country has invested in the congress, the power of the congress, the power of people coming together and getting things done. >> congressmembers, please take your seats. >> i always have to explain to students when they come about what is really going on on the house floor. i say this is america coming together. this is like the stock exchange, but of ideas, and the hubbub and
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the discussions, there is a lot of business actually occurring down on the floor. it is one of the few chances a member has to find another member. you can see all of this activity down there. it is a very exciting time, actually, and the people in the galleries say, why did they sit in their seats, behave themselves, and yet it is where ideas are exchanged and is very alive. for all that is good about that and bad about that. >> there are 435 of us in there, and cannot go around and see everybody, you cannot call everybody, it you need to work with many of them. how we do that is on the floor. every time i go to the floor, i am looking for somebody, to ask questions, every time i go. that is what happens there.
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it's seems unruly, but there is business going on. that is the way a legislative body functions, and i hope it is always that way. i hope even with technology that we do not vote for mar offices or districts. the one thing about technology, it disconnects people from getting along with other people, tolerating other people, looking you in the eye and asking for forgiveness. that is a problem. it>> it put in a big score board, and all the members have their yellow and green lights next to their name and there is a count going on. there is a lot more drama in the house chamber because of that, all of these people pouring in, not knowing how the vote is going, the shouting, the commotion. the senate still vote by voice. the nature is very different. if has always been different. in the 1830's, they noticed the
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difference between the two bodies is almost exactly the same as in the capital today. >> when we look over the chamber today, a bird's-eye view, we see something that looks vaguely colonial. but in 1857, the space was very much the same, the architecture, the structure, the show has not changed, what was inside was very different. one of the big differences, it were to transport back in time, is the members sat at desks with chairs. today, they are called benches, seats essentially, where people sit. it was as if the chamber itself was the office at the time. they had desks where they could keep stuff. the other big change that we see in the chamber today from the way it looked in 1957, at -- in
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1857, a member came back, the rostrum is beautifully carved wood, of laurel reads carved on the front of it, with some of the words of the great aspirations of our nation of the house of representatives. at the time, in 1857, the height of showing your architectural respect for the institution would be to create something in marble. the capitol itself, on the outside, is entirely marble. it shows a time business for the endeavor there, the greek and romans used capital. the rostrum was made of marble. it was white marble and was significantly smaller as well. today, with some of the people doing so many jobs to keep the congress running, there are a lot more people sitting there. when you turn on the television and look at what is going on in
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the house of representatives chambers, there are lots of people down there, more than there would have been in the 1800's. when you go into the chamber yourself, sit in the gallery, you are up high. you have the perfect view. >> right above the speaker's podium is a profound " from one of our distinguished founders, daniel webster. >> when you look straight up, along the wall, from where the speaker sets, you see up along the corners almost, there is a quotation from daniel webster. it is not sit here in the house of representatives. it was an oration that he gave not even in washington, d.c. it is a wonderful reflection on what is important to us, what we consider to be, in fact, some of the reasons we are here as citizens, as members of congress. it is something that i think, like many of the symbols of the
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capital, members look at every day and are reminded of the high purpose to which they are called. you can see the lawgivers, the release around the chamber of the people throughout history, who have created great laws and great advances and how laws are made and administered. other things and as the most are the portraits of washington and often get -- and lafayette. as late as the 18 20's, he came over and took a tour of the united states before turning back to france. at that time, and early 18 20's, that picture was presented to the house of representatives. he was a firstborn dignitary to address to congress as well. because he had been such a great and good friend of washington's, as well of whaas f
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his strongest allies, there was a portrait of washington commissioned there to match the picture of lafayette. it shows how what we do is a portrait and continues through as a threat to what we have done. they have been there since we have first arrived in congress, more than 180 years ago. >> it is here that you can make a difference. and i think that is what every member of congress has to recall, that they have been given a gift by their constituents to come here and make a difference. and they should spend every day toward that end. when they fail to do that, they have failed as a member of congress and they have failed at the american people -- and they
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have failed the american people. >> is not just what we do in the present, it is not just the decisions we make that affect present lives, as part of being the threat of the history of america. -- the thread of the history of america. >> it is such a great honor to serve in this institution. >> this place is unusual and all the world. there is spirited debate, you disagree, you can battle with words and ideas, and that is what system is about. that is the stuff of all those congress process is about perjury -- about. but we do not settle it with pitchforks or fights. you have the battle of words and ideas and ashley have progress, get things done perry -- and actually get things done.
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>> the rotunda bridges the house and senate side to the capital. it is from here that you enter into the oldest part of the capital and into the senate wing of the building. as you make your way from the old as part of the capital into the expansion built in the 1850's, you see a stark contrast in the decorative nature of the old and new as the senate of the 1850's desire to showcase their part of the capital to visitors from around the world. it is into this artistic and architectural design where you find the current senate chambers, surrounded by ornately decorated halls and rooms and open during the winter of 1859. >> i am always enthralled by the senate chambers. the walls themselves. if they could speak, what could
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they tell us? what would they tell us? i think of the great men and women who have served it. >> there something special about seeing yet. it is an empty theater. there is a certain feeling when you look around, you look at the buttresses of the previous presidents, you look at the desks, robert taft, lyndon johnson, hubert humphrey, barry goldwater, the people who have had a huge impact on the institution of american political history. this is the chamber where they fought their battles. there, tribute is paid to these people. >> the senate is almost like a living creature, not a whole breathing. and has a temple, atmosphere. you can watch it and see it. it is almost like a person.
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you treat it like you would treat another person. i think it responds well. even when you are trying to make it do something it does not want to do. >> the real role is to be a forum for the states. each senator is equal. to a degree. with any other senator. each senator can speak as long as he or she wishes to speak. there is freedom of speech. freedom of speech runs deep in english history. roman history, even, and colonial history and american history. since the constitution can along. freedom of speech. >> the senate chamber opened on january 4, 1859. on that day, members of the sun
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at as a body -- members of the senate as a body left the old chambers, walk down the corridor, into their new chamber. there was excitement, enthusiasm about this new space. you go into the senate chamber today, it is hard to evoke the way that the chamber look like in the 19th century. it has changed so dramatically. and the 19th century, when it opened in 1859, the room was highly ornate, floral patterned carpet, filigree and gilding on the wall, and a wonderful stained-glass ceiling. the senate chamber was expanded during the 1850's, and it is open because as more states joined the union, more space was needed. in the 1850's, congress appropriated $100,000 to build two new wings for the house and senate and the capitol grounds. when you look out from the
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galleries to the senate chamber, there is a variety of things going on. really, the layout that you see today is very similar to the layout and the old senate chambers. wall decorations changed, -- while decorations change, the same layout and formality continued. what you have at the center of the room is the day as -- dais. in the 19th century, the vice president would have been frequently at that desk. nowadays, the presiding officer is more frequently a member of the majority party, and they sit at that desk, overseeing what is going on in the chamber. you also have in the galleries, the press gallery above the presiding officer's desk, up on the third floor. the press can look down and see what is happening. around you, is to look into the chamber, are visitors' galleries, diplomats galleries, member galleries. specific areas for people to go
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to see what is going on and on the floor. and of course, the room is divided into the republicans and democrats. if you were at the presiding officer's desk looking toward the senate, on the left-hand side would be the republicans and on the right would be the democrats. the majority leader and minority leader are front and center, right at the front of the room, and the center aisle. >> when i walk into the current senate chamber, and icy when hunt -- and i see 100 beautifully polished desks, i have a lot of different thoughts. one is that those desks are occupied by the latest of a long, unbroken chain of senators going back to 1789. there have been over 1880 members of the senate, and there really have reflected all kinds of shapes of opinions and walks of american life. >> the senate chamber desks that
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the members used today are probably the most unique and important pieces in our collection, as far as decorative art and furniture. the reason being that 48 of those desks were purchased in 1819 at a cost of $34, by a new york cabinetmaker, thomas constantine. there have been desk prior to that time, but the british marched on washington, part of the war of 1812, and in august, 1814, set fire to the capital. all of the furniture was destroyed. these desks date till after that time. they acquired these in 1819. they are beautifully made, mahogany, and leads the near. there are even -- inlayed veneer. there are even grills on the sides for one of the earliest air-conditioning systems, with cold eyes brought in underground
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coal the chamber. this was a way to ventilate it in the room, the grates on the bottom of the chamber to allow the air to come through slits in the floor. today, as curators, we try to preserve that history. we also recognize that every senator who sits at that desk, every event that happens in this chamber and adds another layer to the history of that desk. members in the 1830's start assigning their desks. not every member, but we have the signature, or often adjust carpet with a penknife and side of the desk drawer. >> i used my father's desk. you karcher name like a schoolboy tradition, which is -- you carve out your name, like a schoolboy of tradition. senator " was his first to carve his name to my desk. my father used the desk, lyndon johnson, and so i carved my name into the desk and i kept that
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desk for a quarter-century. there are two dodd names on that desk. i guess knowing the history of these desks, the history of the daniel webster desks, he was such a tight what we came to public spending, he would not have a top put on the desk to give you extra office space. his desk is the only one that does not have a lift up top. for those of us who have been here any time, the history of those desks is significant. >> people walk around the senate chambers, you will see a lot of marble busts, and you will recognize many of these as former presidents of the united states, lyndon johnson, gerald ford, toyota was senior, but they're not there because there president of the united states, the east to be the preside --
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they used to be the presiding officer of the senate. so much of their history as always presidents, from the very first president john adams up to harry truman's vice president, that was their prominent primary role. in the 1890's, the senate has a resolution commissioning the busts of each of the vice- president. the first 17 or in the inside of the chamber, and then they're all through the rest of the building. some of the vice presidents of the net states left us under a cloud. in the 19th century, henry wilson and colfax or both implicated in a credit scandal. in the 20th century, spiro agnew had to resign from office when he was accused of accepting bribes as governor. so there are a number of people who are less than stellar, but there on the collection because they represent, the artwork represents all of them,
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successful or not successful, they're all here as part of american politics over time. they're quite fascinating. some of them are quite spectacular. the statue of theodore roosevelt is really dynamic, as you expect theodore roosevelt's bust would be. >> above the doors and the senate chamber are latin phrases as well as symbolic imagery, basically marble reliefs. the marble relief are by an artist that is done in the early 1950's, as was the leitmotif. basically, it was part of the renovation of the chamber in the 1940's, 1950's. the imagery that you see his patriotism, careers, and wisdom. -- patriotism, courage, and wisdom. they were given a lot of latitude to design and thought it would be appropriate in the senate chambers. these are quite lovely pieces.
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the latin phrases, the first one is "got has savored are undertaking" over the east insurance building, the west entrance, which is "the new order of the ages." then you have "in god we trust." finally, over the presiding officer's desk is "e pluribus unum," "want out of many." -- "one out of many." >> why did you plan active role and opening up the senate chambers to television? >> i did not want to get too sanctimonious, but i generally do not like secrets. i just think life is a lot easier if you live in open book.
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i thought was part of the modern era, that we are not covered by media, is the electronic age. audio, radio, and of course the powerful medium of television. i thought the people who cannot come to washington, small-town u.s.a., should have a chance to see and hear what we do. in some respects, i think it has adversely affected us. i think we do have more performing for the eyes of the camera. but i also find that people on occasion have seen us at our best, when the debates soar to a degree, and they see that we look at it and we have legitimate disagreements without being disagreeable. it was really simple for me. >> the public hears the debates that are going on.
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as a firsthand witness to, to understand exactly what is occurring, not just by reading the record, but by hearing the voices, watching the faces of those were the authors and architects of policy. the downside of it is is almost feeder. does not seem real. we do not have as many real debates because of that. people are where they are performing on a very public stage. not that they were not before, either, but there was a limited audience. i think that truncates the debate. and has a way of stylizing the debate and depriving people of the real negotiations and conversations that are historic late part of any legislative production. >> the clerk will call the roll. >> the rules of the senate are really complex to me when i first came over from the house. i like order, wills, this is what you do, this is how you have a second agreement.
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you get to the senate, having been a member of the rules committee in the house and now the senate, chairman of the senate for the rules committee, i kept looking and watching the institution and sang, this does not make sense. this is not robert rules of order, house rules of order, what are these? finally allowed to parliamentarians and said to explain to me, how does this work? he said there are only two rules that matter. exhaustion and the unanimous consent. if you get the centers exhausted enough, they will agree unanimously to anything. -- if you get the senators exhausted enough, they will agree unanimously to anything. >> centers can speak as long as their feet will hold them, and if their feet will not hold them, they can speak at their desk. that is the protection of the people's liberties. so long as there is a place where one can speak as loudly as he wishes and as long as his lungs will last, we can be sure
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that people's liberties will in door. >> it was edward dirksen, republican leader of the senate in the 1950's, who said thinking of the members of the senate, what it reversed what they are, what age -- what a diverse lot they are, what a chore is to homogenize their voices. >> the senate's great days of success have not been because the rules were better or worse but because the quality of the people served during that time, understanding the role of the united states senate, not as a partner with the executive branch or the house, but as a unique place that has a co-equal obligation to make sure people's voices are heard. >> the doors of the senate chamber leak out into what is
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called the of how the -- the ohio clock corridor, named for the large antique clock situated across the hall from the chamber. continuing from there, you to record or with a statute to each side. one of the capital's most powerful ways of telling our nation and building history. the hallways and corridors of the capitol are filled with statues of notable americans. some of them were commissioned by the federal government, but most of the art is part of the national story art collection. each state in the nation is allowed to send in two statues for representation in the capital. while some of these names and faces are the building are known to visitors, is in the rotunda where the most recognizable and most visible of the collection reside. because so much of the artwork
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and rotund it is of a permanent nature and emanates from the 19th century, it is the statuary in this space that takes the visitors through the 18th, 19th, and than 20 centuries. as new statues come into the capital, it raises the question of how america should be represented in this most visible of spaces in the building. >> the first statue to come into the rotunda was the first statue to come into the capital. it i think it has been agreed statue of thomas jefferson. we go into the rotunda today, and all the statues, most of them, our presidents, but not all. they're mostly presidents. it seems fitting that the rotunda it should be reserved for presidential statues, but i am trying to remember the capital and rotunda without any statues, nothing, the statues anywhere. it is hard to imagine.
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it is such a powerful presence, the statues and the experience of the capital. imagine when they brought in that one lone statue of thomas jefferson and put it in the rotunda. must have looked rather lonely. >> lincoln's statue has a history of its own. it was the first batch that the government commission of abraham lincoln. when they look it that statue of abraham lincoln, it was done by a teenaged girl. she was an orphan. she persuaded lincoln to allow her to sketch him in the white house. after he died, she made a plaster model. she brought the plaster model to the rotunda and the senate came out to decide whether a woman to do a great work of art. they said, well, it was not very handsome. somebody else said, he was not a very handsome man. i suppose some visitors think james garfield perhaps does not
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quite live up to the stature of lincoln or washington, there is some connection. garfield was a martyred president, the way that abraham lincoln was a martyred president. he did not accomplish very much, but his death really shocked the nation, just as lankan's death shocked the nation. garfield's did as well. about one of walk in the rotunda -- >> when i walked in the rotunda and see the bust of martin luther king jr. standing alongside some of our finding father's rigid founding fathers and other political leaders to play their role and have shaped this country, i am moved. i believe martin luther king jr. is the only african-american
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present in the u.s. capitol. when i bring young people, especially young children to the rotunda, i point out martin luther king jr. is here. >> the statute and the rotunda of the women's suffrage leaders. susan b. anthony was lobbying for woman suffrage, not feeling like she was being held back by the forces in congress that did not want to change. >> the suffragette statue is another example of how difficult this progressive is -- how difficult this progress is to represent women. a portion of it is not cars, not sculpted. thinking about what a woman's role would be in the future. it looks like they're being cut out of this piece of white marble, whitestone, and there is this piece that is not formed. it is so well thought through is
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a piece of art. it was a major political struggle to get that moved upstairs. to the main rotunda where people could actually see it. why is it such a struggle? i think there were some hesitancy to put representatives of the movement on the first floor. i actually cannot give you all the reasons that the architect and the arts commission or so has a debt -- were so hesitant. it is befuddling. about the kids from schools all over this country, ford taurus and the rotunda. -- kids from schools all of the country come to see tors of the rotunda. if i was a person in charge of the future of this wonderful building that we are in, i would think it my urgent tasks to find
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ways to find a richer representation >> one of the things that we realize here as curators and the members realize, too, is that there is a lack of diversity in our collection. we have a lot of white men. why? in the 19th century, that is a lot of what you saw in terms of the politics of this nation. we have lots of george washington, lots of senators, male senators, but we are also starting to recognize since this is the nation's capital, we need to represent the entire nation. we need to tell the story of everybody in the building, and i think we are doing it. it just takes time. >> george washington, martin luther king, susan b. anthony. >> the ideas of freedom and liberty have spanned every generation. the look at some of the more recent art, there is a different
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approach to who should be in the capital. the most recent-should come into the capital, a wonderful statue of a native american who many of us are not familiar with. but the important thing about her addition issue is important to the state of nevada, and she stands there face-to-face with our founding fathers. i think that is wonderful. really tells me that all of us have the same right to responsibility to guide our nation as the founding fathers did. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009]
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[captioning performed by national captioning institute]
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>> tonight, c-span2 includes three nights of original documentaries on the iconic homes of the three branches of american government. if you like additional information of the supreme court, the white house, or the u.s. capitol, visit our website at c-span.org and you will find links to public information and history of the three buildings as well as the institutions they house. that is that c-span.org.
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>> american icons, original documentaries from c-span, now available on dvd. the unique journey through the iconic homes of the three branches of american government current cd exquisite detail of the supreme court through the eyes of the justices. it go beyond the velvet ropes of public tours and rarely seen spaces of the white house, america's most famous home. and explore the history, art, architecture of the capital, one of america's most symbolic structures. american icons, the three disc cd set is $24.95, plus shipping and handling. order online at c- span.org/store. >> still to come on c-span, a discussion on race in america with reverend jesse jackson.
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at midnight, another chance to see the original documentary on the u.s. capitol. later tonight, a look at ways to encourage americans to vote in presidential elections. a discussion now on race in america with the rev. jesse jackson and a number of others. that has been 25 years since the rev. jackson's first presidential campaign. this is part of an event hosted by the congressional black caucus. it is just over two hours. >> who are so afraid of our government that they have to wear sacks over their heads. >> out in the country, jackson
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was picking up the first vote. >> as soldiers and conflict, that is our challenge. >> jesse jackson won predominantly white towns. >> i am not a perfect servant. i'm a public servant, doing my best as i develop. >> jackson emerged from that campaign in international
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figure. he helped negotiate the release of the hostages from debris. confronted bogota on human rights. americans held him in higher esteem than any figure since ronald reagan and the pope. when he set out in 1988, he refused to follow racial politics and refused to defer to the democratic leadership's plan to prevent him from becoming the nominee. >> there was a large number of primaries that would be held on the same day, most of them southern primaries. >> what is he going to do?
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vote for him. >> jackson finished first or second in 13 of the 16 primaries. he was in a dead heat with the caucus for votes. minutes later, he called. >> he told me, we won the michigan. he was exhilarated. >> jackson did not just beat the caucus, he won nearly one- quarter of the state's white vote. >> there was a moment or you thought, is it possible? we might do this. >> people thought, my goodness, look what might happen.
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he changed the game. >> you wondered, we are to people i think running like everybody else. >> all along he was discovering at wisconsin loved him. he was calling 10 times the day. >> there is no question that jackson was feeling that he was able finally to bring a message beyond the boundaries of race at kept americans from hearing one another.
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>> [inaudible] what do i want? i want to be president. i want to make america better! i want to make america better!
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i want peace in the world! i want to make america better! i want to make america better! [applause] [applause] >> can i ask all of the members of the congressional black caucus to come forward in a special tribute to reverend jackson? with the like to make this presentation before he speaks. -- we would like to make this presentation before he speaks.
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reverend jackson, so many of us here in congress are part of that and still are part of a coalition. he paved the way for some many of us to be where we are and who we are as members of congress. we just say thank you today. " we encourage you to fight the good fight and keep hope alive. you certainly have kept us inspired by your life's work. on behalf of the congressional black caucus, we would like to present to you a small token of appreciation from the 42 members of the congressional black caucus. we like to thank you for persevering so many years. 25 years. thank you and god bless you.
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>> that my exit but -- let me express my thanks to you for how much you were and are and will be. give the congressman a big hand. members of the caucus, all of us are going between meetings. but me hastily express my thanks to all of you for supporting. i have been part of a change, 54 years. the 54th supreme court decision will define all in the country. rosa parks sent down to
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challenge the law with a lawsuit in 1956,. dr. king emerged added that battle. nine years later, we had the bill. the next dimension was the fight for the right to vote. that battle was a bloody battle, but too often its development was not a part of our orientation. in 1965, blacks could not vote. .
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that is how they got 1220
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delegates or thereabout in 1928. they went back three years later. about 2008, the walls have not been turned -- torn down. it is bridge building time. president barack obama ran a magnificent leg of this race. the race is not over. some of us are shouting prematurely. the cleveland browns and the new york jets, there was third down and forced down, maybe five to go. the jets got 3 yards. they did not make it. the browns would have the ball. the player for the browns come in his excitement, had a foul. therefore, the jets got the ball back. the one on a field goal because
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the player shouted before the game was over. my fear is that many of us are shouting before this game is over. we are in a different place. on your tables as an edition of "the chicago tribune" from last friday. don't let them confuse racial justice and racism. those are not synonymous terms. and racial justice is legal and moral. we should not let them charge the current electorate and make us become race neutral because you cannot cut down a strong tree with a dull ax. you can spread mayonnaise with it. you cannot cut down a strong tree. look at the white house. look at the government of new
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york and massachusetts. look at the congressional black caucus. it is midnight in our politics and economy. the irony of this thing is that we have found ourselves with this enormous home foreclosure crisis and the banksters who profited from the deal -- we bailed out the banks. jesse james got paid twice. the government bailed out jesse james. this is the same board of directors. nothing changed about the character on wall street. i close on this. we have bailed out the leaves.
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it is now time to bail out the roots. there is racial discrimination and poverty. what i find most disturbing is not that we are being attacked. 2.3 million americans in prison and a million are black. 500,000 are latino. the disproportionate -- life expectancy is shorter. less access to capital, industry, technology, broadband,
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and we are silent. is this the same, chairperson, if this building caught on fire and we would all burned up, people would piteous because we are victims of a fire trap. if upon inspection they saw that the doors were blocked, they would say we were stupid. we were in some trance. i do not understand not taking more fighting. there is too much silence. many of our freedom allies are not our equality allies. $900 million in legal fees for bailout. last week, hyatt did the ipo.
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$53 million in fees. $50 million went to the bank. we were at the bottom with 0.4%. these are bailed out banks locking us out of the economy. if i say to you tonight that this is time for a new phase of activism, if we fight back, it might embarrass the president. we don't fight back, we cannot help him. that empowers the president. fighting back empowers the president. [applause] we elected kennedy over nixon but we still had to march on washington. we had to march in selma.
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our activism empowers the president. our silence betrays him and the tradition. i close on the meeting with franklin d. roosevelt. he and his group said they had an agenda. we need health care. we demand these things. roosevelt said, i agree with everything that you are saying. now go out and make me do it. without your activism, i cannot be your ally in the white house. we have more education than ever before. more of us with degrees. when i was in south carolina growing up, we did not have no
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degrees or measurable intelligence. there would be making all kind of noise in cleveland. you'd go to the valentine packing plant two blocks away. you could smell those hogs. they would back up to a pool of scalding hot water, boiling hot water. they would put the grease in the bottom and the hog would slide down and have no hair and the sausages on the other end. those hogs, smelling their death, those hogs squealed so loud, with a stink so odorous, people change the law because
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hogs had enough sense to squeal. [applause] if we have the highest unemployment and the most foreclosures and the most in jail, the least access to capital, victims of the most hate crimes, we should at least halve hope. thank you all. [applause] >> thank you for setting the tone and providing the framework for this discussion. thank you so much for your leadership. we will now move forward with our panel. let me bring forth once again the chair of the congressional black caucus, one who continues to help the cbc speak with one voice, who continues to keep a steady with his brilliant
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intellect and his spirit, congressman emanuel cleaver from the great state of kansas. give the congressman a round of applause. [applause] once our panel discussion has ended, then we will open for questions. i would ask members of the cbc if they could be first to ask the question of they so desire. i know they have other commitments and will continue to move forward with audience participation. i would like for members to be ready to ask your question. thank you again. reverend? >> we're fortunate to have some of the most profound members of the panel that will discuss race. as reverend jackson said earlier, it is not passe.
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the first speaker for our panel is dean alan goodman of the american anthropological association and the vice president of academic affairs. his research focuses on the nutritional and health consequences of racism, poverty, and equality. he is the editor or offer of seven books and over 100 articles. he helped develop and appeared in "race, the power of an illusion." we are very pleased to present dean alan goodman. [applause] >> reverend jackson,
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congresspersons, members of congress, colleagues and guests, i am honored to speak tonight. while americans think obsessively about race, most are dazed and confused about what it is and what it isn't. is it in our genes and out of our control? is it an idea, a brilliantly nefarious human invention to maintain and promote differences and inequalities? perhaps even more important, how do we explain and ameliorate the devastating consequences of racial inequality in welfare and health? our eyes and our limited experience once led us to believe the art was flat. sailors saw curbs in the air service and scientists discovered that curves continued and the earth was round. this change in knowledge led to
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a change in theory, a paradigm shift. this new view of the rounder it changed everything. it led to intercontinental trade and conquest. the conquest was aided and abetted by a racist ideology. similarly, our eyes and our experience lead as to believe at this time that the idea of race explained and was the same as the facts of human biological variation. this old idea of race was hegemonic and in some places still is. however, scientists have known for nearly 50 years that this fact is incorrect. of race does -- race does not explain genetic variation. it is not only scientifically wrong, but harmful. why? it diverts our attention and resources from racism and the
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real sociopolitical causes of racial inequality. because race is genetic is found in the dominant, white, ideological and economic interest, it has not been completely thrown on the scrap heap of the dead scientific idea. example -- decades of research tried to locate the cause of native american diabetes in their genes. it led to a lack of promotion of programs to promote life changes for native americans. decades of research have tried to locate the genes responsible for the persistent high rate of low birth rate and infant mortality in black babies. the cause has not been found and they are simply not there. rather, we know that removing interlinked environmental conditions underemployment, powerlessness come up for food,
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and stress, removing racism from the equation all reduce the horrifying loss of life. this is back as the goal of the congressional black caucus. in both cases, real people with real diseases suffer because of faulty racist very. illness is caused by biomedicine. and i say that race is genetic is ideological. illness is caused by a sixth ferry. research compared to 25,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms. these are the letters in our dna. the data shows that randomly chosen africans are to met -- genetically more different from each other than one is from a european or asian. comparing strands of dna side- by-side, one is likely to find more variation between two
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members of the congressional black caucus then between a cbc member and me. why? human genetic diversity is greatest in africa and in african-americans because africa is evolutionary zero old -- 11 -- evolutionarily old. they are a genetic subset of africans. asians are genetically like the smaller russian dolls nested in the larger russian dolls that is africa. of course, we differ by skin color. that is important, as our next pick will talk about, not genetically, but because it has been used to mark privilege. the paradigm shift is from the seeing races genetic differences as seeing it as a difference of
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living in a racist society. it is said that we are living in racial smog from womb to tomb, which in exurb please seeps into all our minds and bodies with tragic devastation. race should be better thought of as a verve than a noun. the stark reality of racism is seen in wealth and health. as shown in the american anthropological association exhibit, which will be at the smithsonian, the average white family has accumulated wealth at a rate of over eight times that of the average black family. black life expectancy lags behind white life expectancy by nearly six years. black babies still continue to dieter rate that is twice that of black babies.
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race is genetic might be disproved, but race as a verb, as an activity, racial as asian and racism are live. -- racialization and racism are alive. it is not whether race is real, but in what ways we make it and continue to make it a reality. speaking as a scientist, race will no longer be so salient when there is proof in the number. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, dean. this is one of those panels where there are no dips. it is a high-level panel from the beginning to the end. the next person as michael bleakly from the national endowment of the humanities,
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prof. of anthropology, of americans that is, and out and director of the institute of historical biology at the college of william and mary. he is a key adviser of the award winning race exposition and a scholarly adviser of the national museum of african- american history and culture at the smithsonian institution. for those watching on c-span, if you come to the capital, it would be advisable for you to take a stop at the national museum of african-american history. archer was honored there this past september. it is a fabulous place where we hope more and more americans, black, white, and brown, will stop to look at the history and culture of this nation. dr. blakely has served prior
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research positions at the national history museum. he was assigned to the director of new york city's colonial african burial ground archaeological site. he is taught at several colleges. he founded a biological anthropologist laboratory. dr. blakely. [applause] >> reverend jackson, congresswoman lee, members of congress, friends, i am going to talk about the new american racism. racism is fundamentally a method for the justification of on justified privilege for white americans. that is how it began. the treatment of human beings as someone's private property contradicted morality in the colonial oeruperiod.
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religion and science were brought to the defense of slavery by making blacks and indians out to be divinely your innately inferior and to put god and nature on the side of white privilege. the scientific studies upon which the justification of slavery, jim crow segregation, and immigration restriction were based were later found to be no more than a massive collusion of white scholars and society to reinforce their delusions' of white privilege. during the post war time, american scientists began to question race. they found there to be no good scientific basis for thinking that reyes determined how people behaved, their intellect, and how they should be treated in society. it could then be discovered that racial categories or arbitrary in nature, that genes were not
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distributed according to race. by the time of the 1968 civil rights act, political activism had defeated the credibility of racist lots and language and began to establish a prominently anti racist ethic for american society. nonetheless, there is abundant material evidence that white privilege continues. what is the method, i must ask, used to justify white privilege in an anti-racist society? some americans took up the idea of the nonexistence of natural race as a means of denying the existence of racism and white privilege. by the 1980's, we saw the erosion of the recognition of racism in american society even while a sect of white
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supremacist institutions persisted. by the 1990's, many whites did not consider themselves to be part of a race. they considered themselves to be normal, american individuals. others were considered to be ethnic, multi-cultural. even liberal whites generated the idea that whites were not in a position of privilege. they did not even exist. perhaps unintentionally, they claimed the superiority implied by the idea that they were standard, normal, object of humanity. although these positions seem intended to oppose racism, they simply reconstruct white supremacy in anti-racial terms. at about the same moment, racism was being defined as the act of referring to race and racism. thus the word "racism." it was largely silenced as bad
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manners, an excuse for self- victimization, and a ploy for personal advantage, i e the race card. efforts to mitigate the damage of historical and present white supremacy came to be interpreted as reverse racism. thus, anti-racism has come to be defined as racism. there's more. racism came to be defined by some as anti racism. we have seen the cherished language of freedom and equality appropriated for the maintenance of white privilege. conservative pundits tell us there is a level playing field. the public, who buy into this, much -- must conclude that some sort of natural or moral inequality explains the stark racial differences in wealth and social conditions that are visible all round us.
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legal correctives such as affirmative action set aside and are logically baseless if the playing field is level. the common belief among whites that the few people of color in selected schools and prime jobs must be there for reasons other than merit assumes that they do not have the capacity to compete fairly with whites. the premise of this kind of social behavior is that non- whites are inferior to whites. it is presented as if it were an anti racist defense of individual freedom and equal opportunity for all. the level playing field stands, the denial of witness, and the silencing discourse on racism comprise the new racism. these are the means by which
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white privilege goes unchallenged. we do not live in oppose racial society. we live in denial. our school curriculum and our landscape also leave enormous business where rates as logic to exploit. education continues to detail how white america ends and europeans -- details white americans and europeans. racism is experienced in has schools. i ask, did you have any courses in african or african-american history?
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the student answered, no. i said to her, do you experience racism? the unmarked spaces are where the morality of white privilege should become as a parent as the enormity of the african-american contributions to american resources of which they received no fair share. much has been accomplished in all of these areas, notably by people sitting in this room. we are asked to stop and celebrate at the 50 yard line. if we are silenced, the truth cannot be told. it is the truth that has gotten us this far. [applause] >> thank you, professor. before we move further, i want to acknowledge the presence now
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of congresswoman laura richardson from california. [applause] and only the fourth african- american senator to serve during the enlightenment period, senator roland burris of illinois. three of the four are from illinois. let me introduce now the speaker on how laws affect the treatment of groups. she is of the howard university school of law. [applause] she has students here. she teaches constitutional law and human rights as well as gender and the law. she is a director of the law school's constitutional law
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center. in addition, the professor chairs the steering committee of the campaign for a new domestic human rights agenda, a coalition of more than 50 national human rights of social justice organizations in the country working to further the human rights agenda. she contributes to www.theroo t.com, an online magazine the provides commentary on news from a variety of black perspectives. [applause] >> good evening. i would like to join with my fellow panelists and think congress womanly -- congresswoman lee and the others for the invitation and the
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opportunity to talk a little bit about race and politics from a particular perspective. i am going to try to tamp down the professor part and raise up the other part, in large part because it is late. the professor part puts people to sleep early in the morning. the odds are against me if i delved deep into a constitutional conversation about the nature race. i think perhaps i want to start with a slightly provocative statement that i don't think we are post race, but perhaps we are post civil rights. i say that to recognize it is not post-civil rights, but pre- civil rights. as the congressman noted, in
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addition to my teaching responsibilities and chairing the steering committee for the campaign for new human -- q nu -- new domestic human rights agenda, i recognized that while i fall short of filling the shoes, i stand on the shoulders of people who have made the case for racial justice in the united states as a matter of human rights law for quite some time. i stand here almost 6 feet tall, standing on the shoulders of people like wpp the boys -- web dubois and various song and the unsung heroes who saw that our struggle in the united states to transition from chattel slaves to persons, from persons to citizens, and we are still moving in that direction, that that was not just about what
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happens in the united states to people of african descent who so happen to of landed here. it is part of a conversation. we are part of a global community and part of understanding the notion that perhaps we're post-civil rights is recognizing that the way we got to civil-rights was an unnecessary narrowing of our own agenda, which was couched in human rights terms until mccarthyism, communist scare forced us to narrow our agenda rather than to embrace the fullness of the agenda as it was originally understood. what did we lose? in moving from human-rights to civil rights, we moved in the direction that imposes on our government no obligation to ensure that the rights of all are respected, protected, and fulfilled, regardless of their identity.
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bear with me for of the part of it. most of the individual rights recognized in our constitution are viewed as negative rights. they are to protect the liberty interest of all of us individuals who can make choices free from unnecessary government intervention. if your rights are negative, and we saw this happen as an unintended consequence of going there, if rights are negative, that means the government can say, we have no affirmative obligation to ensure your rights are meaningful. if you are poor and you need health care, the poor part of it is that the government stops. if health care is provided by moving out of the way, deregulating the markets, you are right -- your rights are protected within the limits recognized by our own constitution. part of what it is that i say in terms of the post-civil rights
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is looking to a skcheme that we have participated in that recognizes race as being both affirmative and negative, that recognizes civil and political rights alongside with economic, social, and cultural rights. we would not have conversations about whether education is a fundamental right as a matter of constitutional law. human rights is of fundamental right and it is a right you are entitled to regardless of your identity, just because you're a human being. what does this have to do with race? little do most people know that we have ratified a treaty known as the international convention on the elimination of racial discrimination. that treaty was ratified in 1994 and it gives rise to domestic obligation to address all forms of racial discrimination, not
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just de jure, but de facto. if something is neutral on its face, the cracks, the mere fact that it has the racially disparate sort of impact would be enough to place it within the realm of racial discrimination under this particular treaty, which clearly takes us far beyond what our supreme court has interpreted our constitution to require. these are not for norms. these are norm's we have adopted and agreed to abide by. what has happened often times is the people who were concerned about monitoring compliance with things like greece convention do not necessarily do domestic work. the people who are interested in foreign affairs and international relations are not really that concerned about the
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domestic implications of any human rights treaties that we might ratify. here we are at the campaign for a new domestic human rights agenda, attempting to strengthen the u.s. commitment to satisfy our own human rights obligations as a matter of our own domestic law, recognizing that to the sent -- to the extent that we are talking about being post- race, we might be out of step with the rest of the world. we are having a discourse about race that does not sound in the language used by everyone else in the world. there are questions like -- we can play 20 questions. how many of you know that in 2008, more than 400 individuals in organizations came together to file a shadow report with the committee responsible for this particular treaty, calling the u.s. government to account on its record of racial justice and
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implementing this particular treaty? most of us don't. but come it happened. we took 125 activists to geneva to put squarely before that particular committee issues regarding hurricane katrina and hurricane rita, juvenile life without parole, sentencing disparity, the state of public education, health care disparities. much of that would not have made it to the attention of the committee had it not been for the forces outside of the government saying, this is the record and we would like you to ask questions with respect to these particular issues that our government did not seem to think raised issues of racial injustice. disparities in the criminal justice system more explained away in terms of perhaps a propensity among people of african descent to commit more
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crimes rather than over- policing conduct operating within our communities, compounded by what to get if you have to go through the judicial system and you lack adequate representation. another thing in terms of things that people do not pay attention to, one person who represents our country well, often in geneva, made a statement in september that, and i'm trying to find it, bear with me, "as the u.s. seeks to advance human rights and fundamental freedoms across the globe, we embrace a commitment to live up to these ideals at home and to meet our international human rights obligations.
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these are statements that individuals feel free to make abroad because there few of us here that are paying attention to what is going on abroad because we are comparing that with domestic troubles, not understanding that the domestic and global are absolutely interconnected. moving forward, our struggle domestically requires us to look outside of the limits of our own legal system, the conference of our own legal system, and to begin to take our place at the table with other countries who have put in place the steps necessary to ensure the human rights of their residents and citizens are adequately protected for no other reason than the fact that they are human beings. my challenges that part of what the campaign for new domestic human rights agenda is attempting to do is to
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strengthen the commitment to our obligation and to put in place and infrastructure that is essential to ensuring that these rights are absolutely protected and our obligations are fulfilled. he plans to this infrastructure include reinvigorating the interagency working group by human rights, which ultimately is an executive branch coordinated body that will then monitor what is going on in the executive branch, but as i stand before members of congress, i would be remiss not to mention the other piece of the infrastructure. we need a national human rights institution, a nonpartisan, independent national human rights institution that would bring us into line with the rest of the western democracies we like to claim as being our colleagues. what would this mean? from our perspective, it means
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transforming what is currently the u.s. commission on civil rights into a u.s. commission on civil and human rights, understanding that there are some issues that we must deal. the issues pale in comparison to the power and potential for expanding our struggle beyond the limits that we found to be at work here with respect to our domestic system and began a two hold all branches of our government to account as it relates to our obligations that we have accepted by way of presidential signature, the senate, which means that there are laws and we must abide by them. i appreciate the opportunity to share this with you and look forward to more conversation about this and other matters. thank you.
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[applause] assistant professor of political science and african- american studies at yale university and former adviser to the national church is voting rights of electoral reform group. dr. brown earned her first ph.d. in church. then, she earned a ph.d. in political science from ohio state university in 2003 and a b.a. in government from the university of virginia in 1998. i have a ph.d. in church as well. it is the height of political knowledge. prof. dean brown, the first book
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is one that i think every african-american must read when it comes up. the title, "once convicted, forever doomed." , "explores the dynamics are around the criminal justice system. she argues that the exponential growth of that system poses a threat to communities of color. in the second book, identity politics in the age of obama, this book will analyze the impact of race, religion, and gender in the 2008 presidential campaign. the third book, lessons from the past, prospects for the future, focuses on the political legacy of the voting rights act of 1965. dr. khalila brown dean. [applause]
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>> good evening. let me begin by thanking chairwoman lee and all the members of the congressional black caucus for your commitment to helping us achieve a more perfect union. i thank you for attending this very important conversation. i currently teach a course on african-american politics to wonder graduate. is this class even necessary? now that we have a black president, why do we keep talking about race and politics? haven't we moved beyond that? if so, what would you teach next year? i thought about how to respond. i remember where i was. 2009 also marks the 40th year since someone entered the congress.
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the first african-american citizens said tic-tac-toes the first african-american citizen to be -- citizen said, "i was the first temp african -- first african-american citizen to be elected to congress." that was the first person in 192 years. it proves that our society is not yet either just or free. in thinking about those words, i want the students to understand those words are just as relevant now in 2009 as they were when she first entered the house. this year marks the 45th anniversary of the passage of the civil rights act of 1964. banning discrimination, that acts -- that says we're all entitled to learn -- to earn a
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living. the availability of affordable housing is decreasing and unemployment is increasing. that fact reminds us that we still have to fight to make our society free and just. it is fitting to come together tonight to talk about the relationship between race and politics because we stand on the cusp of two very important moments in our country. i want to briefly talk about those moments because i think that helps us understand the connection between race and politics. those moments represent an opportunity to affirm the struggle for full citizenship for african-americans in this country. in 2010, we will recognize the port of anniversary of the voting act of 1965. since its inception, it has helped us reduce the gap between the principal on the practice of full democracy in this country. we have made significant gains and increasing black
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registration turnout and office holding. we must continue to mobilize our communities to raise their voices and their issues in that process. reverend jackson has often said that the hands that once picked cotton can now pick the president. we have to remember that those hands must also picked the mayor, must also pick the members of the school board. it is great we have mobilized people to participate at the national level, but our opportunity to really affect meaningful change often occurs at the state and local level. our ability to address the political issues that determine the daily lives of people in our communities, things like public safety, access to education, happened at that level. participation has to be engaged. it has to be ongoing. it has to be about empowering the community that that person will represent. these races also give us an
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opportunity to take a step back, to make all our efforts to promote democracy abroad. looking at the voting act of 1955 allows us to determine whether we have failed to secure and protect democracy curette home. if so, what are the consequences of that failure? we may no longer have the full facts in this country. the vra did away with that. in states where people have to pay to get a particular form of identification in order to vote, we have to understand that that is a modern-day "facts. it will affect the quality of black participation. i also want to begin to think about, as we move forward in this phase of our electoral participation, how do we open up the space where we can see more black candidates running for office, given that the cost of waging a successful campaign is rising? how do we address the disparities in funding so that
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money does not become a barrier for communities, so the money does not determine our voices and will not determine our ability to address issues of concern? the second major moment in this quest for empowerment and in the connection between recent electoral politics is actually something that we don't usually think about in political terms. i tend to think it is extremely political. that is the u.s. census that will occur in 2010. we know there are nearly $30 billion in federal resources that will be distributed based on those counts. that money will help programs that affect some of the most vulnerable in our community, the poor, young people, and the elderly. what we also now is that black communities often suffer because of the ways that people are counted during the census. one of the areas that i write about extensively and that i think it's important in the next phase of civil rights in this
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country is to address disparities in the united states. we now the majority of the inmates come from urban neighborhoods, racially diverse neighborhoods. they are incarcerated in rural communities that do not reflect that same demographic makeup. it matters because inmates are counted as residents of the town in which they are incarcerated, not the place from which they come. those towns count inmates in their senses, inflate the numbers come and report back, and get a greater share of resources, not to address the problems affecting those communities, things like high crime and illiteracy, but they get to boost their numbers and gain a greater share. the rich county can say, 30 percent of our population lives below the poverty line. 40% is illiterate. we need more funding. those people do not get access to those numbers. people can run and represent
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those districts without having to be accountable to the people within the district. the census is something we need to think about. what is the political consequence of drawing legislative districts are ground those prisons, of inflating the influence of people representing those districts with no level of accountability? it affects the ability of black candidate to run because it determines what those issues will be. it also has an impact on the effectiveness of black officeholders, may not have the resources to fight the challenges based on the community. i want to end by making a key point here for me. race matters in this country. it has always mattered. it will continue to matter. the task before us is determining how race will matter. i often tell my students that we cannot expect obama to change in four or eight years what this
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country has cultivated over the last 400 years. we have to have a serious conversation. power concedes nothing without a demand. we need to determine what it is we are demanding and what we expect from ourselves? what to expect from elected officials? what legacy are we leaving for children? thank you. [applause] >> let me begin by introducing one of our colleagues, the congressman, who is the chair of the asian pacific caucus. we are delighted to have you here. [applause] the next panelist is a mayor, a skilled lawyer, a professor, a leading legislator, former mayor of new orleans. he is the president of the u.s.
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conference of mayors, which represents the largest cities in the country and those of us who were mayor's at the time as he was the president were very delighted and proud to have him serve in that capacity. he's the ceo of the national urban league, the nation's largest civil rights organization. as president of the national urban league, he has been the primary catalyst for an era of change, a transformation for the nearly 100-year-old civil rights organization. you can witness his energetic and skillful leadership here on the hill. he is here on the hill almost every week speaking to members of congress and testifying before committees. he serves as an executive committee member of the leadership conference on civil rights, the black leadership forum, and leadership.
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mayor? [applause] >> thank you, mayor, reverend, congressman. thank you very much. thank you for helping me to celebrate my 100-and-something birthday since i have been president of the national urban league since 1903. thank you, thank you, thank you. ladies and gentlemen, join me in giving all of these distinguished panelists a big round of applause. [applause] it touches me to see some much intelligence -- to see so much intelligence and so much
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commitment to understanding the difficult issues we face. i want to it thank all of them. i want to thank congresswoman barbara lee, who has provided off some leadership to the congressional black caucus. [applause] all of the members of the congressional black caucus who are working every single day in the trenches here on capitol hill to try to fight and work and coalesce on a difficult and tough issue the nation faces. , i want to give you a big round of applause. i see you up front and behind the scenes. i also want to applaud the fact that the congressional black caucus under the congresswoman's leadership has worked closely with the congressional hispanic caucus and the asian pacific caucus, most notably recently
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coming out in a strong way early on, unified for a strong comprehensive health reform package with a public option in this nation. trust me, the meeting is no longer a telephone booth enterprise. the numbers of black, latino, and asian visit but members of this congress is steadily increasing -- and asian-pacific members of this congress is steadily increasing. i am going to push back that this is anyway a post-racial, post-civil rights time in american history. this is why. civil rights is not a time or place or in march -- or a march
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or a rallying cry. it is an aspiration. an objective for a nation where the playing field is level, we're equal chances lead to equal outcomes, where everyone can share in the true basis of the american dream. if we needed to be reminded, all we need look at is that these numbers with the current recession. unemployment, as reported, is that 10% -- is at 10%. black unemployment is nearly 16%. unemployment amongst latinos is
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nearly 15%. the disparity continues. when we look at our teenagers, the unemployment rate for white teenagers is in the mid-20's. for african-american youth, it is in the low-40's. all that gets counted are those that actually apply for a job. the real numbers when it comes to unemployment in the african- american community now nears 20%. look at housing. the sub-prime crisis has been wicked and mean in its effect on people. it has affected people of every single

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