The Truth about the Confederacy in America - rough transcript

The following is a rough transcript of a talk by Jeffery Robinson, the ACLU's Deputy Legal Director and Director of the Trone Center for Justice and Equality. You can watch the full talk, "When Heritage = Hate: The Truth About the Confederacy in America" on Youtube.

I used youtube-dl to download the subtitles from Youtube and did some extremely basic reformatting.

I think this is an important talk, and I know for many people a transcript is much easier to deal with than a long video.

You can donate to the ACLU to support the essential work they're doing.

Good evening, folks. (Applause) it is an incredible privilege to be here this evening, to have a chat with you.

Thank you so, so much for being here.

I have been a criminal defense lawyer almost my entire career, and the best movie ever made about a criminal defense lawyer is anatomy of a murder. Jimmy Stewart has a great line in that movie that I learned and has been with me as I've been a criminal defense lawyer, and the line he has is people aren't just one thing.

A person can be a good father, a good brother, and also a bank robber.

A person can be a good mother, a kind community member, and also a drug addict.

And countries aren't just one thing. America is a great country, and America is a country that was founded on the premise of white supremacy and white superiority.

I'm not going to pull any punches in my comments tonight, but what I am going to do is ask you to think about America in perhaps a slightly different way and to think about where we started and how we started and how engrained white spellsy has become in America -- supremacy has become in America.

It's become so engrained that we don't even notice it, and one way to think about this is to check this -- because about 50 years ago, Muhammad Ali went to Great Britain, and he was interviewed about America, and he tried to talk about white supremacy with a little bit of humor, and I'd like you to listen to what he had to say. (Video playing) things are getting much better, but I always wondered when I went to church on Sundays.

I'm not just a boxer, I do a lot of reading, studying, I ask questions, I travel to countries and watch how people live and I learn, and I always asked my mother, I saidsh Moe, how is everything white, why is Jesus white with blond hair and blue eyes, angels are white, hope and Mary and even the angels.

I said, Mama, when we die, do we go to heaven?

She said, naturally we go to heaven.

I said what happened to to all the black angels they took the pictures. (Applause) I said -- I said, oh, I know, it's the white folks is in heaven too and the black angels were in the kitchen preparing the milk and honey. She said, listen, you quit saying that.

I was always curious why I had to die and go to heaven, why I couldn't have cars and nice homes now, why do I have to die to get milk and honey.

I said Mama, I don't want milk and honey.

I want steaks. Milk is a laxative in heaven. I always wondered, Tarzan was the king of the jungle in Africa.

He was white. (Laughter) I saw this white man swinging in Africa with a diaper on hollering.

You all see Tarzan over there, and all the Africans, he's beating them up and breaking the lion's jaw, and here's Tarzan talking to the ams, and the Africans have been there for centuries, and he only talked to the animals.

I always wondered why Miss America was always white, all the beautiful women, beauty shapes, all types of complexes, but she was always white, and Miss Universe was always white, they have white housesy dwars, King white soap, white floor wax. Everything was white, and the angel food cake was the white cake and the devil food cake was the chocolate cake.

I said, Mama, why is everything white? I always wondered, and the president lived in the White House, and Mary Had a little lamb, and its feet were white as snow and everything was white, Santa Claus was white, and everything bad was black, the little ugly duckling was the black duck, and the black cat was bad luck, and if I then you, I'm going to blackmail you, and I said Mama, why don't they call it whitemail?

I was always curious.

This is why I knew something was wrong. The Olympic champions, a Russian standing right here and the Pol right here.

I'm defeating the America's so-called threats of anys, and the flag is going da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, -- I'm standing so proud.

Da, da, da, da, da.

And I whoopd the world for America.

Da, da, da, da.

I took my gold medal, thought I had invented something.

I thought, I know where to get people freedom, I'm the champion of the whole world, I'm the Olympic champion, I can eat downtown.

I went downtown and had my big old medal on there and went into a restaurant.

Things weren't integrated, people who were black couldn't eat downtown.

I sat down and said a cup of coffee and a hot dog.

The lady said, we don't serve negros, I was so mad, I said I don't eat them either, just give me a couple of hot dogs. (Applause) You know.

I said, I'm the Olympic gold medal, three days ago I fought for this country in Rome, I won the gold medal and I'm going to eat. The manager said -- she said I'm not the man.

They put me out.

I had to leave that restaurant in my hometown where I went to church and my daddy fought wars.

I just won a gold medal and couldn't eat downtown.

I said something's wrong. (End of video) something Something's wrong. This is a difficult topic and a difficult subject, in part because our history has been stolen from us.

And it was done intentionally and purposefully, and when you are asking a human being to reject what they have been brought up with, what they have been taught by their parents as the truth, what they have seen in their schools and in their colleges and universities as the truth, when you're asking somebody to all of a sudden say that's a lie and the truth beneath that is really ugly, you're asking for somebody to do a really hard thing, and I think it's important for us to remember that as we talk about these discussions. But a hard thing is where we are and a hard thing is what we have to do.

Because everyone will remember George Orwell in 1984, and there are two things that come from that book that I will ask you to remember and to remember very carefully. First, who controls the past controls the future, because if you control the narrative about what is true about our past, that narrative sets the mark for how we go forward in the future.

If you control the truth about the past, then you have the path to the future, and who controls the present controls the past. We can laugh when our president and people in this administration say things about our communities and our history that we know are just not true, but people are listening.

When the President of the United States, when cabinet members are talking to America about what is true and what is right, it makes a difference, and when we do not deal with the ugly part of the truth about our history, we have no chance of going forward in any kind of productive way. So let me say this.

You can take down every Confederate monument in America tomorrow.

It ain't going to feed anybody.

It ain't going to get anybody out of prison.

It's not going to put good water into Flint, Michigan.

It's not going to solve all the racial problems we have in America.

What getting rid of the Confederate monuments will do is, in my view, begin a process of making Americans like you and me, who were never taught the truth about our country -- it will make us deal with the truth, and that's a scary thing.

Never underestimate the pull of the status quo because if we are really going to acknowledge what I'm going to suggest to you is our true history in this country, it has implications. What does it mean about the wealth that I have, what does it mean about the comfort that I live in right now?

What does it mean about the place I work at, even a place like the ACLU?

What does it mean to examine how things got here today to be the way that they are?

Those are very uncomfortable questions, and what I'm suggesting is we are at a tipping point. Either we deal with this or this will tear us apart. Don't read this book. (Laughter) Under no circumstances should you read this book.

This book is about drug abuse, about childhood sexual abuse, the stuff that's knocking around in that book you do not want bouncing around in your head late at night when you're trying to go to bed.

Don't read this book.

But do understand the title of this book because William Burrows got the title from this book from one of his Beat Generation coworkers and cofriends jack Karowack, and when burrows was asked what is naked lunch, what does that mean, here's the answer that he gave. And that's what I'm going to ask us to do tonight, to have a naked lunch moment with race in America, where we have to actually look at what is truly on the end of our fork because if we look at that, what we're going to see is not very pretty.

Do read this book.

It is -- has great examples of how American politics has used code words and dog whistles to hide our dependence on white supremacy, and I want to give you an example because I know you have heard in this entire debate, well, there's a difference between heritage and hate and there's a difference between southern culture and slavery, and the monuments are celebrating heritage, they're celebrating culture, they're celebrating southern pride, and people have understood these code words for a long time, and they were never explained better than by this man. (Video playing) Here's how I would approach that issue as a psychologist, which I'm not, is how abstract you handle the race thing.

In other words, you start out, and now you're on a -- you start out in 1954 by saying nigger, nigger, nigger.

By 1968 you can't say nigger, that hurts you, so you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff, and you get so abstract now, you're talking about cutting taxes and all of these things you're talking about are totally economic things and the byproduct, blacks get hurt worse than whites, and subconsciously maybe that is part of it, I'm not saying that, but I'm saying if it is getting that abstract and that coded that we're doing away with the racial problem one way or the other, you follow me -- because obviously sitting around saying we want to cut taxes, we want to cut this and we want -- is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than nigger, nigger, you know, so any way you look at it, race is coming on the back bunker. (End of video) Any way you look at it, race is going to get on the back burner, so don't say nigger, just say state's rights.

Remember that as we talk about our history because that man learned from what we have done in the past.

People think that the south lost the Civil War. They lost the war but they won the peace, and they won it by rewriting the history of our country, and that's what I'd like to talk about this evening some. So we have our president saying the history and culture of our great country is being ripped apart by the removal of beautiful statues. You can't change history but you can learn from it.

Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson, who's next, Washington, Jefferson, and it's so foolish, and the beauty that's being taken out of our cities and towns will be greatly missed and never be able to be comparablely replaced. I have an easy way for you to think about this.

George Washington owned slaves.

He absolutely did.

The Washington Monument, if you go to Washington, D.C., and look at it, it's got nothing to do with slavery or the Civil War on it anyway.

I think what he was honored for was, I don't know, forming the country. (Laughter) Being the first president.

The fact that he owned slaves, you are absolutely right, and I'm going to talk about that, but that monument is not a monument to fighting, killing others, and being willing to die yourself so that you can enslave people and treat them as chattle.

That's the difference between the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Monuments, and the monuments that I'm going to talk about. So I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and what greets me as a citizen of Tennessee when I go to my state capitol in Nashville where my grandparents lived, this is what I see.

Nathan Bedford Forest, and you can see Confederate States Army lieutenant general and his birth date and his death date.

There is nothing else on this monument except the fact that he was a Confederate States general. Well, he made a fortune in Memphis as a slave trader, and he was the original grand wizard of the KKK.

He led a Confederate massacre of black soldiers and white soldiers, American soldiers during the Civil War, and this monument wasn't put up in 1865 or 1866 with people saying, he's such a hero, we have to recognize him; this monument was built in 1970, two years after Martin Luther King was shot in the neck just down the road from Nashville, Tennessee. That is the yearbook from Nathan Bedford Forest High School in Jacksonville, Florida.

It's the most recent version that I could find from 1993.

This is now called West Side High School in Jacksonville, Florida, and that name change occurred in 2014 . And if you're wondering what the Civil War was about, how about not listening to pundits from today or politicians from today, how about going back and listening to the people that actually fought that war and what they have to say. If we ain't fighting to keep slavery, then what the hell are we fighting for? I got a couple of days ago an email from a gentleman who sent me an article about the Robert E Lee family because Robert E Lee's descendents are still alive and in Virginia, and he said I hope you understand that, you know, these descendants are not their ancestor, and I know you're going to give this talk, and I hope you will have in your mind and in your heart some empathy -- not sympathy but empathy for his family today, and I want to say could I just see a show of hands in this room, how many people in this room have ever owned a slave?

I see no hands.

Robert E.

Lee's family, the people that exist today, they never owned slaves either.

Slavery is not our fault.

We have no responsibility for it.

It is part of our shared history, and that's what we can't walk away from, and one of the things that this gentleman sent me was a Washington Post article where one of Robert E.Lee's descendents was saying we were always taught that our ancestor didn't fight to protect slavery, he fought for Virginia, and what I want to do is just to read you the end of some comments from someone much more eloquent than me on this subject, written in 1928 on this topic, what was the Civil War fought about, and when people say we were taught that he wasn't fighting for slavery, he was fighting for the south. It is the punishment of the south that it's Robert Lee's and Jefferson Davis will always be tall, handsome, and well-born. Their courage will be physical, not moral.

Their leadership will be weak compliance with public opinion and never costly an unswerving revolt for justice and right. It is ridiculous to excuse Robert Lee as the most formidable agency this nation ever raised to make four million human beings chattel instead of men and women.

Either he knew what slavery meant when he helped maim and murder thousands in its defense or he did not. If he did not, he was a fool. If he did, Robert E. Lee was a trader and a rebel, not a hero. I feel for the family of Robert E. Lee that's alive today because this must be a really difficult time for them.

This is the price you pay when you live a lie, when your view and understanding of history is based on a lie because when the truth comes to town, it really hurts when you're ripping that lie off. So Aniston, Alabama, I just want to give you a sense, when we talk about Confederate monuments, what are we talking about, and I just want to give you an idea.

So in Aniston, Alabama, in 1905, they decided that they wanted to honor this man, John Pelham, and that is a statue or a picture of the statue in Aniston, Alabama.

This is word for word from the United States Civil War website, not a Confederate website, this is something put up by our government, and this is what it says: John Pelham fought with such valor and dedication for the Confederacy, giving his life in that cause, that he has become a symbolic of Alabama fighting men in all wars who have offered themselves to defend the state, the nation, and the principles in which they believed. Those principles are simply one thing, white supremacy and belief in slavery . This man resigned from west point just a few weeks before he graduated so he could come back to Alabama and join the Confederacy, and I'm going to go back for just a second.

Take the word "Confederacy" out of that statement and put the words "Nazi Army" in and see how it reads. He was a genius at killing the enemy. In the Battle Fredericksburg, he kept the entire union forces in disarray by himself by firing artillery, running to the next piece of artillery, firing it, making the union think that there were a large number of troops at their flank when they actually weren't, and it led Robert E. Lee to call him the Galant Pelham. This man died during the Civil War.

He was an expert at killing the enemy, meaning American soldiers, and when you talk about the rhetoric that we have today about our military and about American soldiers and what we owe to the people who put their lives on the line, this man was slaughtering American soldiers, and they built a monument for him. Everybody remembers the ed mun Pettus bridge and Bloody Sunday.

Heck, they made a movie about it. But who was Edmun Pettus.

Well, that's who Edmun Pettus was, the grand (Off microphone) of the Alabama KKK.

And that bridge was dedicated not in 1865 or 1870 but in 1940, and we'll come to that timing as we go through this because the timing of these monuments, I think, suggests something that's very important in terms of understanding what they're about. This is one of my favorites, I will just tell you.

If you have -- can I see a show of hands of people here who have been to Stone Mountain, Georgia? So there are some people, and I'm glad to see that.

But I'm betting you don't know the entire story of Stone Mountain, Georgia, because on Thanksgiving Eve in 1915, William Joseph Simmons took these things to Stone Mountain, Georgia.

He took bricks, where he made an alter; he took the American flag; he took the Holy Bible; he took an unsheathed sword; and he took a (Off microphone) and he made himself the new imperial wizard of the KKK.

That's what Stone Mountain, Georgia is. It is a monument to the KKK. Now, its history is interesting. That's what it looks like.

It is the largest bass relief in the world.

Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas Stonewall Jackson. Conceived in 1912 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, deeded to the United Daughters in 1916. They started working on it with the KKK in 1922, but it was abandoned for 36 years until the State of Georgia purchased it and created the Stone Mountain Memorial Association to complete the project, and it was completed in 1972. And finally, this one.

I got a call from a Washington Post reporter several weeks ago, and he said, I want to talk to you about these monuments that have been in the news a little bit recently, and I'm having some confusion. First of all, did you know that there was a Confederate monument in Arlington National Cemetery?

I told him, no, I had no idea.

And he said, well, it's not on like -- if you take the tour there, they don't really take you by it.

They kind of point over there and they say there's a Confederate monument and they push you by, and he said I have some questions about it, have you seen it?

I said, I had no idea it was there.

He says, I'm trying to figure out what is a mammy, and I asked him to repeat his words?

I said, what did you say?

And he said, I'm trying to figure out what is a mammy, and I said I can tell you what a mammy is, and I said you're going to see a black woman with a hand Kerr chief around her head holding on to one or two white kids, and he's like, hold, hold, hold it, I thought you hadn't been to the monument.

I said, no, I haven't.

I grew up in America.

I grew up black in America.

I grew up in the south in America, and I know exactly what a mammy is.

This is from the website of the Arlington National Cemetery.

The vignettes include a black slave following his young master, an officer kissing his infant child in the arms of her mammy. In is definitely a monument to history -- this is definitely a monument to history, but monuments are built to honor history.

I am not honored by this and neither is any other black person in America.

That's in Arlington National Cemetery. I told you that our history has been stolen from us . (Video playing) That's what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity.

There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less, but they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great grand-daughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land. (End of video) You can laugh if you want.

Bill O'Reilly says on national television, yeah, the slaves built the White House. They had nice places to live and decent food.

The State of Texas is teaching that slavery was a side issue to the Civil War. Our history is being stolen from us.

And what I would say to Mr. Carson is that the idea, just these little code words, they were immigrants, not slaves. (Laughter) And if you think that he's the only one, there's another person from the administration the other day who was calling slaves workers, not slaves. This kind of rewriting of history matters because if slavery wasn't that bad, then what the hell are you still complaining about it for?

Why don't you black people just move on? Why can't you get over it?

If it wasn't that bad.

And so when this man says, people came over here with dreams of prosperity, I will grant you that there were dreams.

I think they were more like nightmares, and I think the dreams had to do with we don't even know what these people are saying, we can't even understand their language.

We understand the end of the whip.

That's a universal language that we understand. There were nightmares that people had, and trying to change that is the rewriting of our history.

This is where the South won the Civil War. They didn't win the war, they won the peace by rewriting what our history is truly about. And so I want to take you through some of that history, and I hope that, you know -- I am not standing here like, ha, let me tell you this stuff and you don't know it and I'm smarter than you.

I'm 61 years old at the end of this month.

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and much of the stuff I am sharing with you I have learned in the last six or seven years.

There is stuff in this presentation I have learned in the last 36 hours.

We are not taught our history, and that's one of the things that I think is so critical and important, and it's important because as we're trying to interpret what was going on and what our true history is, all we have to do is go and look.

Our history is hidden, but it's hidden in plain sight, and all we have to do is be willing to wake up and smell the coffee. So let's talk about it. In 1619, there were 20 human beings that were brought to America as slaves, 20, and it all started from that.

Because what people figured out very quickly is if you have free labor, the profits that you can make go up exponentially. The first slave ship is built in Massachusetts, not in the South, so this whole thing about, well, it was the bad South and the good North when it came to slavery, no, no, no, America went in all hands on deck, and I'm asking you to look at these laws because these laws will help you understand what slavery was about. What we have here is we know the white slave owners will be raping the black women, but their kids are not going to be free, let's make that clear right here and right now. We're going to steal their God from them, but even if they accept our God, they're still slaves.

When you look at that one -- and I think about policing in America today -- it sends chills up and down my spine. And look at what you can get executed for, growing your own food, learning to read, and assembling in groups.

I remember talking to my great-grandmother, who was born to parents that were slaves, and I remember her saying we had to be very careful to show -- not to show how smart we really were because a smart black person was a threat. So can I see a show of hands, how many people in here know about the Colonial Marines? I see about four hands go up, and I'm not suggesting -- I'm not trying to embarrass anybody.

I'm trying to make the point that our history has been stolen from us. The Colonial Marines were black slaves that fought with the British in the War of 1812, and do you know why they fought for the British?

Because the British told them if we win, you get your freedom, and when people are fighting for their freedom, they can be vicious, and the Colonial Marines were vicious. They knew all the back trails because they had been slaves in the South. They knew where you could cross the rivers, and so they were of great assistance to the British in fighting the Americans, and they were part of the troop that drove the Americans back into Washington, D.C. and set the White House on fire. About three months later, Francis Scott Key, who was part of that American group that got driven back to Washington, D.C., is now in Baltimore at Fort McHenry, and he's watching the bombs bursting in air and getting excited and getting motivated to write the National Anthem, and one of the things that Francis Scott Key wrote about was, you know, these black Colonial Marines, they're of concern because what if all of them did that? So here is the end of the third verse of our National Anthem, written by Francis Scott Key. And the refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave, and the Star Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave, or the land of the free and the home of the brave.

That is your National Anthem, our National Anthem. And my point is that from Plymouth Rock, white supremacy was the basis of how this country was formed.

It doesn't mean we're not a great country.

It doesn't mean that we currently are all bigots.

It means this is the truth about how our country was formed, and we can either deal with it realistically and as the truth or we can keep trying to deny it, and in terms of keep trying to deny the nature of our true history, I feel like just saying how's that working out for us? (Laughter) I'm now going to show you in the words of the people who built the country how important white supremacy was.

Important as the soul is to the body, and without it, no house can gain a proper stability.

And you're like, Jeff, that's 1784, a long time ago.

Bear with me. 40 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence owned human beings. The founding fathers of America had absolutely positively no problem with white supremacy. They believed in it.

It was the truth.

It was the reality of their time, and they weren't embarrassed to say it. One of the main reasons that Native Americans were driven off their ancestral land, the plantation owners had to have room.

If you're going to grow cotton and tobacco, you need a lot of land. 13% of the entire American population was enslaved by 1860.

Can I see a show of hands, how many people understood that slavery was that pervasive?

And maybe some, and that's good, but you know what, I guarantee if you knew that, you didn't learn it in high school and you didn't learn it in college, you learned that somewhere else. This is not taught to us.

To understand the economic dependency on slavery.

And so when I talk about the monuments and the Civil War and the things that are behind this, one of the other things I would just encourage you to do, like any other investigation that you would do, follow the money to understand what the motivation is, just follow the money. The indian Removal Act of 1830 took 100,000 adults and sent them on our version of the Long March, and you see how many of them died on that march.

What this did to the Choctaw Indians in the southeast was horrendous, and here's why they did it, because they needed room for this.

People may think, well, I have an understanding that slavery was somehow directly tied to cotton production and cotton production was kind of important.

I want to ask you to think about that in some different terms. And before we do that, let's talk about Andrew Jackson, who was the architect of the Indian Removal Act, and our president, once again, we talk about rewriting history.

You can't disAndrew Jackson, he's on the -- diss Andrew Jackson, he's on the $20 bill, and if he's on the $20 bill and he's a horrible, horrible person, what does that mean, does that mean we have to take him off the $20 bill, does that mean we have to start thinking about why we put him there in the first place?

I don't want to deal with that, he's a great president. Well, these are the facts about Andrew Jackson that I'd ask you to consider. And that third one especially, and I want to give you a little bit more detail about that.

But here's what our President of the United States has said about Andrew Jackson, and I'm going to read this.

Had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later, you wouldn't have had the Civil War.

He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart, and he was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War.

He said, there's no reason for this. The problem with it is -- the first problem -- (Laughter) -- that Andrew Jackson was dead 16 years before the Civil War started, and I know it is -- it's like, are you kidding me? (Laughter) But it's like as funny as a heart attack because there are people who believe this, and this is part -- you're saying, like, oh, that's ridiculous, nobody believes that.

We are in 2017 and we're having a debate about what the Civil War meant. If you think that who controls the past is not important, you are wrong.

Think about the -- the arguments that we're having in this country today and it's because the past has been concealed . This is one of the most amazing books you will ever see, written in 1839, Slavery as It Is, and the only thing these people did was to go to newspapers, cut out articles about slavery, and put them in a book.

That's why they called it Slavery As It Is, and I want to show you the real Andrew Jackson, because he had a slave that ran away and he wasn't having that, so he put an ad in the newspaper, stop the runaway, and he offered a $50 reward.

That's not what I want to talk to you about, it's the end of this newspaper advertisement, put in by Andrew Jackson near Nashville, State of Tennessee, and this is what it says: If you find that slave, $10 extra for every 100 lashes any person will give him to the amount of three hundred. When people say folks didn't fight the Civil War slavery, they weren't about defending slavery, this is years before the Civil War. This is slavery as it is. Everyone knew that this is what slavery was about.

There weren't any questions about it . I offer you these laws to get you, once again, to think about what slavery actually meant and especially the law from Oregon, which I don't have the adjectives for it. (Laughter) So Texas school officials are saying we want our children to learn that slavery was a side issue to the Civil War because it's divisive.

We have to look forward, and President Trump is saying, we need to love each other now and whatever, but -- (Laughter) -- we need to love each other, and we have to look forward, not backward, and I get that. Looking forward is important, but if you are looking forward from a place that is false, then where you're looking forward to is the road to hell. We can't go forward without acknowledging where we have been. What these people have forgotten is the story of King Cotton, and that's something that I will never forget.

I didn't have to learn this in the past six years, I had to learn the true meaning, but I didn't have to learn the term because King Cotton was part of my upbringing in Memphis, Tennessee.

King Cotton was a food brand.

King Cotton was on everything. There was actually a hotel King Cotton in Memphis. Army and Navy Club completely air conditioned, bed and halls sprinkler protected.

Three-channel radio and musac and overlooking the Mississippi River.

This was one of the luxury hotels in Memphis, but what does the phrase "King Cotton" mean? What it meant to me was bacon. (Laughter) Because King Cotton Bacon, King Cotton Sausage, King Cotton, like, rolls.

This was -- this was like the food of my childhood.

Everybody in member sis bought King Cotton brand, and when -- Memphis bought King Cotton brand.

And when I finally found out what the name actually stood for, I felt like I wanted to throw up because King Cotton, the theory that was used by southerners before the Civil War to say we can do this, we can break away from the North and it's economically feasible, and here's why: Everybody depends on our cotton.

We can shut down the mills in the North in a heartbeat.

Britain and France are going to have to make a decision.

Will they support us mill tailorly because we can cut -- militarily, because we can cut down their mills.

We just won't send them more cotton.

It couldn't have been more practically and beautifully stated than it was by Senator Henry Hammond of South Carolina, without firing a gun, without drawing a sword, should they make war on us, we could bring the whole world to our feet.

What would happen if no cotton was furnished for years?

England would topple head long and carry the whole world with her save the South. No, you dare not make war on cotton, no power on earth dares to make war upon it because cotton is King, follow the money. This is how important cotton was. What kind of money are we talking about? 1840, cotton made 59% of all U.S. exports.

This is 16 -- 15 years before the Civil War. 1. 5 million pounds with about 700,000 slaves, and you can see how that changed, 2.25 billion pounds and almost four million slaves.

This is what made America wealthy.

This was the formation of wealth, and, folks, I just want to make sure as a side note to say I hope you don't think that the money made from slavery just dissolved and went up into the air. It went into companies and businesses and not even tracing and blaming those corporations.

Those corporations hired people and paid their salaries and their benefits and gave them the ability to raise families and to pass wealth on through the generations. This money is what made America financially stable. The market value of slaves in 1860 was greater than the market value of every railroad, factory, and bank combined.

Follow the money because the money we're talking about was huge.

Think about the role of slaves and slave trade and slave labor in the economy.

And that's a statistic that shocks me because the Mississippi Valley today is one of the poorest places in America, and in 1860, more millionaires per capita than any other place in the country, and that was because of slavery . The white plantation owners did not have the capital to hire hundreds of workers to work these gigantic cotton plantations.

They had to have free labor.

And if there is any doubt about it -- and let me just say there is absolutely nothing wrong with retail jobs, but when you have an economy that is based exclusively on the exploitation of free labor, this is what happens.

We are now 150 years later. There is no industry in the south that has replaced the slave trade and what could be worked on by slaves . The mayor of New York City recommended that New York, not the State, the City, withdraw from the union during the Civil War. Why was that?

If you go and read, it's because we are making so much money from slavery, we want to keep doing it.

If we withdraw, we can then be friends with the North and we can be friends with the South . They are saying it to you as plainly and as directly as they can, and so the people today who say the folks honored in these monuments were not fighting for slavery, my response is, I understand that that's what you wanted to believe and I understand -- want to believe and I understand how difficult it is to wrap your mind around the fact that human beings, fellow Americans would fight, kill other people, and die to preserve slavery. It's really hard to wrap your mind around that, but that is the ugly truth. If you read that quote from Abraham Lincoln, I was raised to understand that Abraham Lincoln was my savior. I was taught that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves because he knew that slavery was an abomination.

Abraham Lincoln said on many occasions, if I could preserve the union and keep slavery, I'd do it.

If getting rid of slavery is what it takes to preserve the union, I'll do that too. What his goal was was to preserve the union, and I just want you to know that the debate about reparations for slavery is a completely false debate. First of all, go back to 1988 when Ronald Reagan was in office, passed with almost no dissent was a bill giving $20,000 to every Japanese American family that was interned during World War II. That was absolutely appropriate. $20,000 doesn't even begin to compensate those families for what was taken from them, for what they lost, and for being essentially imprisoned for the term of World War II. At least it was some acknowledgment that what we did was wrong. If you talk about reparations for slavery, $20,000 for four years of internment, what is it for 256 years of slavery? And here is the kicker. Reparations were already paid because in the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln set aside $ 1 million for D.C. slave owners to be compensated for loss of property.

This is our history. We've already talked about the Indian Removal Act.

In the middle of the Civil War, the government still was -- was doing what white supremacy demands, which is favoring the white class over everyone else, and I'll give you a perspective on this that's interesting. (Video playing) At the very same time that America refused to give the negro any land, through an act of Congress, our government was giving away millions of acres of land, and the West and the Mid West, which meant that it was willing to undergird its white pesance from Europe with an economic floor, but not only did they give the land, they built land grant colleges with government money to teach them how to farm, not only that, they provided county agents to further their expertise in farming.

Not only that, they provided low interest rates in order that they could mechanize our farms.

Not only that, today many of these people are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies not to farm, and they're the very people telling the black man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.

This is what we are faced with, and this is the reality. Now, when we come to Washington and this campaign, we're coming to get our check. (End of video) This is not the Martin Luther King that they pull out for MLK Day or for Black History Month. (Laughter) So what was the Civil War and the Confederate flag really about?

And as opposed to listening to people -- one of the things you can read is this -- read about is a phrase called The Lost Cause, and that's a suggestion that it wasn't really slavery, it was state's rights, did we hear that from Ronald Reagan's advisors?

That's what it was all about.

And I have no complaint with that.

It was about state's rights.

It was about the right to own other human beings as slaves.

It was about culture, and the culture was white supremacy.

It was about those things that the people who say the monuments should stay up, it was about the things that they say it's about. It's just that their history is causing them to see heritage and culture in a way that is completely false. So I have an idea.

If you want to know why the southern states left the union and why they started the Civil War, why don't you just ask them?

South Carolina, the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. Mississippi, our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery, the greatest material interest of the world, a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.

They are telling you as clearly as they can our entire economy is built on slavery, and if you take that away from us, we're going to end up with nothing but retail jobs. Louisiana, the people of the slave-holding states are bound together by the same necessity and determination to preserve African slavery. Alabama declared that the election of Lincoln cannot be regarded otherwise than a solemn declaration on the part of a great majority of the northern people of hostility to the South. Her property and her institutions. Her property were the human beings that they owned, and the institution was the institution of white supremacy and slavery.

They are telling you as plainly as they can, and my question is, why are we so unwilling to listen?

Why are we so unwilling to believe exactly what they're telling us? This is my favorite.

All white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights, that the servitude of the African race as it's existing in the states is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundant lip authorized and justified by thely authorized and justified by the man kind and revealed will of the Almighty Creator.

Do you think they stopped believing this because the war was over?

They are telling you as clearly as they can. At the South and with our people, of course, slavery is the element of all value and the destruction of that destroys all that is property.

This is why we are willing to send our fathers and brothers and sons to make war on the North to try and separate our country, because if we don't, you're taking away our very life blood.

We need these slaves and we are comfortable with it and we thought you were too. And finally, let me just go back a second, the Confederate Battle Flag, and many people know this, it went through several iterations. The first flag was essentially all white and it had what you see up here as a little thing in the corner, and then it went through several different iterations, but they all were the same thing, and if you want to go to the person who would have the best read on what the flag meant, how about the person who created the flag? And what he had to say was, as a people, we are fighting to maintain the heaven ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race. If we ain't fighting to keep slavery, then what the hell are we fighting for?

There is no question about what the Civil War was about, and there is no question about the monuments to that war because every person that is lionized in those monuments may have been brave, they may have been strong, they may have done incredible acts of courage on the battlefield, they killed other people, and maybe they gave their own lives, and they did it so that they could own other human beings like chattel.

Why isn't there a statue of Heinrich Hemler in Germany?

Why isn't there a statue of a Nazi soldier in Germany just saying, hey, he was just fighting for his country?

They have figured out something that we haven't, and one of the reasons is they have dealt honestly with their past. So these monuments, this publication is put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

I would encourage you to get it.

You can get it online.

It has amazing information about the monuments that have been erected in America and where they are and when they were put up. So where are these monuments? Well, I think a map is probably the best way to show it.

That's half the country and that's the other half. (Audience groaning) Those are the top ten states with the most monuments, and here are some facts that come from their study. About 1503 monuments, and they're still counting.

They haven't gotten them all. 109 public schools, 80 counties, nine official Confederate holidays, and ten United States military bases.

Can you imagine that at a United States of America military base housing U.S. soldiers that is named for a person whose glory came from being a traitor to the United States and killing U.S. soldiers?

Why don't we have Osama bin Laden at the World Trade Center? That's the distribution in terms of Confederate States, border states, union states, and then not a state during the Civil War.

You can see where these monuments were built, and so if we're asking the question, why were these monuments built, one of the things that we want as we're thinking about the answer is, well, where were they built, were they built in the North, were they built in the West? Why were they only built in the South? m And then we have this question, when were these monuments built? There were two spikes, between the end of the 1800s and about 1921, and then essentially during the Civil Rights movement. These monuments weren't built right after the Civil War, these monuments weren't built by people who were directly related to and lived with the people that died in the war, these monuments were built by folks who never knew the men that they were lionizing . 1900-1921, you see there -- and you won't be able to see the date, but it's 1896.

That's Plesi vs. Ferguson, and the thing about that is what I'd like people to just think about, when I talk about how white supremacy is so engrained in American culture that we don't even recognize it anymore, Plesi vs. Ferguson was more than 30 years after the Civil War, and I told you the South may have lost the war but they won the peace.

Plesi vs. Ferguson said the concept of white supremacy, it's not just the social construct anymore, it is the law of the United States handed down by the highest court in the land.

There is no other way to think about separate but equal.

We weren't good enough to be in the same places as the white folks were, and you'll see later that Thurgood Marshall, when he argued Brown vs. the Board in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, part of his argument was this, separate vs. equal was a concept that was derived to try and keep former slaves as close to that state as was humanly possible. Plesi vs. Ferguson, the law of the United States. A 7- 1 decision.

And so now we're talking about -- so there's a spike in these monuments being built, what else was going on at the exact same time in America?

Well, this is one of the things that was happening. The fact that this was normal, the fact that this was behavior that didn't really shock anybody tells you something about how deeply white supremacy has been engrained into American culture. Several years ago I heard people on TV saying this was one of the greatest movies ever made in the history of American film, and look at the advertisement. A stew pendus motion -- stew pend us motion picture employing the services of 18,000 people, accompanied by a symphony orchestra of 40.

Film and art does give you an idea of where a country is and what a culture values, and this was one of the greatest hits of American culture at the time.

How great?

Well, it was three years in production, and many people don't know that this was the first movie that was ever filmed in the White House.

Woodrow Wilson had this film shown in the White House, and the film, it didn't have any black actors, of course, they just put black face on white actors to play the role of the evil black skorj.

This is what President Woodrow Wilson had to say.

The (Off microphone) by a mere instinct of self-preservation until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a ver till empire of the South to protect the southern country.

That is the President of the United States, and he is speaking to a populous in America that's saying we get it. When the terrorist shooting in Orlando happened, I was horrified by that carnage, and I thought, you know -- I -- I don't even have the adjectives to try and describe what people who were victimized there must have felt, but I have to tell you that I started getting angry when I heard them describe it as the largest mass terrorist shooting in American history. Now, if you hear news reports about it today, most of them have been modified, and what they say is, it's the largest mass shooting by one person in American history because what came to mind for me were these.

Can I see a show of hands, who was taught about any of this in high school? I see one hand in this entire studio. How about in college? A couple more.

Grad school? Why weren't we taught this?

Why don't we know this?

Mob kills many negros, dead in East St. Louis may reach 250. Homes were set on fire and white people simply stood outside with rifles and picked black folks off as they came out of their homes.

And I have shown this in a number of speeches I have given around the country, and it wasn't until maybe a couple months ago that I talk about hiding in had plain sight.

I never even saw this until somebody pointed it out to me. The first bail of new cotton crop was sold at auction for $1500 on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, 1917, and cotton was still King in the south, and I'll just say quickly, the reason for that was that slavery, as it was practiced during the Civil War, continued for decades after the Civil War. Blacks were simply arrested for crimes like vagrancy, put into jail, rented out to the very same plantations where they were slaves, and this time their work was compensated, not by paying them but by paying the municipality that imprisoned them in the first place because the plantation owners still needed free or nearly free labor.

That practice went on until the 1940s. Another article from St. Louis, negros did not start the trouble.

This is the Arkansas shootout, and as a kid growing up in Memphis, I can remember both of my parents were born in 1926, so they were actually born after this happened, but I remember conversations with my parents and their friends where they would talk about the thing that happened in Arkansas, and it wasn't until I was much older that I finally found out what it was, and I said, you know, Mommy, Daddy, why wouldn't you tell us, why did you refer to it that way, and of course, their view was, we didn't want to scare you. The thing that happened in Arkansas was that a whole bunch of black folks got together in a church to talk about trying to union eyes, and when you have -- union eyesize -- unionize, and remember those laws in Virginia, you could get whipped for gathering in a group?

Well, the white police responded, everybody had guns. Two police officers ended up getting killed.

That's how many black folks were arrested.

This was from the newspaper just about seven days later, the trouble at Hoop sper and Elaine, those are towns in Arkansas, has been settled. The soldiers will return to Little Rock in a short time.

No innocent negro has been arrested, and those of you who are at home and have work have no occasion to worry.

Just remain at work, just as if nothing had happened.

Top talking, stay at home, go to work, don't worry. By October 31st, 122 people had been charged with crimes.

By November 5th, the first 12 had been tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.

You could imagine what happened to everybody else. They either pled guilty, and at the end, some were released because they hadn't done anything. And the white newspapers will tell you that nearly 250 people died in Arkansas. The black newspapers will tell you it was more like 800 because many of the bodies were simply pushed into the Mississippi River, and so they weren't recovered. And finally, this, 1921. The black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was one of the most prosperous communities in America, and the whites there decided they weren't going to have it, so they simply burned it to the ground.

Almost 300 people killed.

That's what was going on at the exact same time there was this explosion of Confederate monuments, an explosion of thanks and praise for people who had done nothing other than fight to maintain white supremacy and slavery. When you think about when these monuments were built and what else was going on in America, it tells you something about the motivation. So how about that second one, 1947-1968 . One thing that people forget about our history is that reconstruction after the Civil War was actually working.

There were over 2,000 black elected officials in America. Businesses that blacks were starting were starting to take hold, and in 1877, I think it was Grover -- I can't remember the president, but he got elected and basically said I'm withdrawing the troops. In 1876 there were 125,000 black registered voters in Louisiana. In 1878 that number dropped to 5,000. And if you're wondering about the flag, it had essentially been dead and buried until 1948, when Strom Thurman brought it back with the Dixiecrat party, and once again, they are telling us as clearly as they can what they are about and why they're waving that flag. The party's purpose was clear, we stand for segregation of the races. This is from the editor of the Augusta, Georgia kouror in 1951 -- Courier in 1951.

Folks, they are saying it as plainly as they can, and yet we are still having a debate in this country about what this stuff means. So Brown vs. the Board in '54, and we all -- those of us of a certain age, anyway -- remember some of these images, and I told you about Thurgood Marshall's argument to the U.S. Supreme Court, and, of course, when we think about the legacy of white supremacy, we recognize that public schools in America are more segregated today than they were in 1954.

That's not by mistake. That's not by accident. Understand that this is now 89 years after the Civil War, and this is the first time that the law in America -- I'm not talking about the society and the social acceptance, but 89 years after the Civil War, it is the first time that the law in America says black folks are human enough that they can sit in the same classroom with us.

What does that tell you about how deeply engrained white supremacy has been in America? (Groaning) And now we have this, and it's funny, accept it's not.

Our history is being stolen from us. Historical black universities and colleges, pioneers of school choice, living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. And now the President is saying we're going to have to stop federal funding to these schools because that would be racist . I want to laugh when I read this, but what I remember is this is the tactic that was used by the South to rewrite history about what the Civil War meant.

The reason they are doing it now is because it has worked in the past and it will continue to work unless we're going to do something about it. So this is going to be a disturbing image.

That's the image that his mother made sure showed up on newspapers around America in 1955 or '56, and there are many people that will say that that picture, that image was one of the major sparks of the Civil Rights Movement, and what I believe about that picture is that America, mostly white America, had a naked lunch moment with race. It didn't last long, but there was a naked lunch moment where they looked at this picture and said essentially something like this: I know those colored people are causing problems, but I didn't sign up for this. This is a document that was published in Montgomery, Alabama, after the Montgomery Bus boycott.

This document was prepared by the Montgomery Approvement Association, and it was sent out in the black community the night before -- the Sunday night before the buses were going to be desegregated on Monday morning.

This is a victory document.

We have won this struggle, and I just want you to see how many black Americans understand that there is a difference between the law and living. The bus driver is in charge of the bus and has been instructed to obey the law.

Assume that he will cooperate in helping you occupy any vacant seat.

Do not deliberately sit by a white person unless there is no other seat.

In case of an incident, talk as little as possible, always in a quiet tone because you know what will happen if you piss off the white folks. Don't get up from your seat.

If another person is being molested, do not arise to go to his defense but pray for the oppressor and use moral and spiritual force to carry on the struggle for justice. And whatever you may think about this advice, this advice is coming from people who were living then, and what they understood is, yeah, the law says I can do this, but if I get hauled off that bus, the law is a long way between the bus and the jail overnight and the courthouse the next morning, and there are all kinds of things that can happen between getting arrested and maybe showing up in court. And this is the one that breaks my heart. If you feel you cannot take it, just walk for another week or two.

This is the victory document after the Montgomery bus boycott.

It is showing you that despite a change in the law, we recognized that white supremacy hadn't gone anywhere. These are law-abiding, God- fearing, good Americans who are saying we are not bigots, we are not racists, we just don't want the black people in our communities. (Laughter) So that happened in 1963, and remember, I am going through this to try and show you the events that were happening at the same time that this second explosion of monuments in the south to Confederate heroes was being built.

And then this happened in '63, Is segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever, and just a few weeks later, the Confederate flag was flying over the University of Alabama. Of and in September of 1963, these four girls got blown up in this church. This was the young girl that survived, and if you want to see the faces of people who have directly experienced terrorism, you don't have to go to the 9/11 photographs, you don't have to go to the first World Trade Center bombing, you don't have to go to Oklahoma City.

These are the faces of people watching the bodies being taken out of the church, and these faces know what terrorism is. You remember Ronald Reagan's campaign advisor?

When Ronald Reagan was nominated for President of the United States, the first campaign speech that he made was in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and it was about state's rights, and I guarantee you the people in Philadelphia, Mississippi, knew exactly what he was talking about. And then that's my hometown on April 4th, and I'd just like you to consider this.

This is Dr. King in 1955.

We must love our enemies, be good to them.

This is what we must live by and we must meet hate with love. We must love our white brothers, no matter what they do to us. This is Dr. King in 1967.

Urban riots are a special form of violence.

They are not insurrexes, the rioters are not looking to seize territories or retain control of institutions, they are mainly intended to shock the white community.

Most of all, ail eneighted from society and -- alienated from society and knowing society loves property above people, the rioters are shocking it by abusing property rights. That is not a speech that is brought out in Martin Luther King Week either, and on the night he was killed, April 4th, 1968, he was writing a sermon that was found in the briefcase in his room at the Lorraine Motel, and this is the title of the sermon he was going to give three days later. This is what was happening as the second explosion of Confederate monuments was happening in America.

So since we're livestreaming, you're not supposed to play copyrighted music.

I don't know if you all remember the Traveling Wilberries.

Great, great band, and one of their songs had this verse, And the walls came down all the way to hell, and I saw them when they're standing and I saw them when they fell. Well, we have seen these monuments stand for way too long, and as I said, taking these monuments down will not feed a hungry person, it will not release anybody from jail, it will not solve the problems of race, but it is one way that we can at least begin to say we are going to deal honestly with what our past is so that we at least have a fighting chance to move forward in a way that actually makes words like "Justice " and "equality" mean something instead of sounding like a sound bite that makes us feel good. I want to give you one last example. This is the website -- the website -- the memorial -- the website for the Robert E. Lee Memorial two days before Charlottesville, Virginia. This is the website two days after Charlottesville .

This is not a true reckoning of our history.

This is simply a continued attempt to water down the truth about Robert E. Lee, and I say this once again, I know he has living tee send ents, and I am not saying this to offend them, and I apologize if this causes pain to them, but Robert E. Lee made his choices, and as WEB Dubois said, he's got to live with them, and those choices were strength and physical valor but moral cowardess.

So some of these statues are coming down. They're being removed in the dark of night because the city officials don't want to remove them in the day because there might be disputes, there might be violence, there might be fighting.

My only point is this: There is a movement in America that has not been in existence in my lifetime.

I was 11 years old in Memphis when King was shot and killed, and I was young, but I was old enough to know enough, and I knew what was happening then. I heard the discussions that were going on in the Civil Rights movement because they weren't discussions in a history book, these were discussions that were going on when my mother and father walked out the door in the morning.

My father was an educator, my mother a homemaker, and they were deeply involved in the Civil Rights movement, and what I'm telling you, the discussions about racial equality that were going on then are nowhere near as deep, as intense, and as revealing as the discussions that are going on today. As scared as I feel and as frustrated as I feel with what's going on in this country, there is a part of me that says we are on the cusp of something.

This is a fricking tipping point, and it is going to go one way or the other, and I'm saying to everybody sitting in this room, it is part of your responsibility which way this tip occurs because for many of us, while we are all Americans and we share that together, for many of us there are some of us who will walk out of this room tonight and you can forget about everything that I've said and it won't make a difference in your life for a while, but I promise you the walls that we build between each other based on race, based on wealth, they're not high enough to keep the tide back.

I'm not talking about violent revolution or anything like that, although that certainly is a possibility, a remote one, I think.

What I'm talking about is an America where you don't have 2.3 million people in prison, you've got 4.5 million people in prison, and you don't -- 80% of Americans owning 7% of the wealth, you have 90% of Americans owning about 2% of the wealth.

Nobody is going to want to live in that America. Taking down these monuments will not cure the problem, but it is at least an indication that we are ready to deal with the truth. And so this is where I'm going to end.

In 2008 I was practicing here at Schroeter Gold mark, and I got a call from a friend of mine, a guy I went to law school with, a brilliant lawyer, he works in New York.

I met him in 1978 when I started in law school, and he had 800 albums Al if he ba advertised by -- alphabetized by category of music.

I loved this guy.

He called me in 2008, and I hadn't heard from him in a while.

He's like, Jeff, how are you doing? Josh, it's great to hear from you.

Jeff, will you do me a favor.

Sure I will. Maybe everybody in the audience is old enough to know when your friend calls you and asks you to do him a favor, you ask what it is before you say yes, and he said, I need you to go down in Guantanamo bay and represent AlbarBalucci, and he said, do you know who he is?


He's the one who planned on carrying out the 9/11 attacks, and the government is looking to execute him as quickly as possible. You know that saying how your life can flash in front of your eyes in a second, and in those two seconds, I thought I'm going to get kicked out of my law firm, every person in Seattle is going to hate me, I will never have another case in Seattle again, I hate to fly and I'm going to have to get on an airplane to go to Cuba.

This guy is not going to like me or even want to talk to me.

In two seconds, all that stuff was going through my head, and then I heard this voice saying, of course I will, and it was mine. One of the things I can say is my law firm not only didn't kick me out, their response was, what do you need, what kind of help can we give you, how can we support you? So before I went to Guantanamo bay, I went to Washington, D.C., and all of the lawyers in the John Adams' project were there, and we had a- long meeting with psychologists and psychiatrists and we were talking about people who had been systematically tortured.

And they were telling me you may have capital experience representing a defendant in a capital case, you may have experience representing people that have been sexually abused as children.

You have never talked to a person who has been subjected to a systematic form of torture. They are damaged beyond your belief, and if you think you're going to come back the same as you were before you went down there, just throw that out the window. So it's about 4:00, and to be honest with you, my thought is where is the nearest bar because about four Scotches will make me feel a lot better than I feel right now, and a woman from Indiana got up and she said, I know you feel hopeless right now, and I'm going to show you an example of the most human behavior that I have ever seen, and she showed us this video, and I want to share it with you as we end. (Video playing) This is a video of an actual camera Safari in South Africa. (Video playing) she's She's crouching. And what the lawyer was telling us while the video played is that when you're dealing with something powerful like the government or like white supremacy, often the victims are the smallest and the weakest. She caught them. Oh, she did. And that is hopeless, like we feel that the quagmire of race in America is hopeless. SPEAKER: There's a crocodile there too. SPEAKER: And just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. Charleston, South Carolina, and then Charlottesville, Virginia.

Where does it stop? Look at this.

The crocodile is taking the baby. That is the definition of hopeless. Oh, my God. They're going to fight over it. I'm shaking. Oh, my God. Oh, look at those. The lions -- The lions have won. The lions have won.

Have they? Because mom and dad water Buffalo went and got the whole heard.

The man who has what sounds like either a British or South African accent is actually a guide, and he said that he had never seen behavior like this before, and I feel like we, as a community, as a progressive community, as a forward-thinking community, have a lot more influence than we recognize, but sometimes we just know around because we just don't know what to do, and sometimes it will take one person, just one person to step out and do something. And my suggestion is that when you do that, it actually feels good. Watch him going back.

Is there some strut in his step there? He's like get the F out of here and don't even come back.

And even when that person will step out much our group and demonstrate that there are things that can be done, sometimes the group is still not ready and it takes one other person to do something maybe a little more dramatic. SPEAKER: Ooh, ooh. And now everybody is involved. And they're like, no, don't just go away, keep going away.

And remember, it was hopeless. There was no rational way to think that this was going to succeed. The calf's still alive. It is? Yeah, it's trying to get away. It's standing up. It's standing up.

It got away. They got it back. They've got him back. They do have it back. ( End of video) The lawyer in Indiana or from Indiana who showed us this, at the end of this film, said, this is the most human behavior I've ever seen because it was hopeless and they tried anyway .

So color of change has started a campaign to take down state-sponsored monuments to the Confederacy and to white supremacy.

I urge you to go to their website, look at what they're doing, and join them in this fight.

The ACLU's People Power will also be looking to organize our members and our staff so that we can move toward making America deal with a naked lunch moment about race in this country because by dealing with that, by taking control of the true past, we actually have a chance for a radically different future.

Thank you, guys. (Applause) Thank you very, very much. This is greatly appreciated. Thank you.