Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 7, Episode 20 - U.S. History - full transcript

John Oliver talks about the flawed way children learn about the history of race in USA. He points out the three major points needed to address about the white supremacy and racial injustice...

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HI THERE!

WELCOME TO THE SHOW.

STILL TAKING PLACE IN THIS BLANK

VOID THAT LOOKS VERY MUCH LIKE

THE INSIDE OF AN EGG, FROM THE

OFF-WHITE WALLS TO THE EERIE

SILENCE TO THE CREATURE IN THE

MIDDLE WHO RESEMBLES

AN UNBORN CHICKEN.

YOU'RE GETTING THE FULL EGG

EXPERIENCE RIGHT NOW.



AND LET'S DIVE STRAIGHT IN WITH

THE CORONAVIRUS, THE REASON

THAT WE'RE ALL GOOGLING

"FACE MASK DROPLETS" AND THEN

DOING IT AGAIN BUT WITH THE

SAFE SEARCH ON.

THIS WEEK SAW THE GRIM MILESTONE

OF 150,000 DEATHS IN THE U.S.,

WHICH YOU WOULD THINK WOULD

IMPEL PEOPLE HERE TO TAKE THE

VIRUS SERIOUSLY.

YET STORIES KEEP CROPPING UP OF

MASSIVE GATHERINGS, FROM AT

LEAST 43 PEOPLE TESTING POSITIVE



FOR CORONAVIRUS AFTER ATTENDING

A MICHIGAN HOUSE PARTY, TO MORE

THAN 700 PEOPLE ATTENDING A NEW

JERSEY AIRBNB PARTY, PROMPTING

THIS RESPONSE FROM THE GOVERNOR.

YES, IT'S HOT.

YES, IT'S SUMMER.

YES, WE ALL WANT, AND IN MANY

CASES, NEED, TO BLOW OFF SOME

STEAM, BUT THIS IS NO TIME FOR

ANYONE TO BE VYING FOR INDUCTION

INTO THE KNUCKLEHEAD HALL OF

FAME.

YEAH, AND FOR THE

RECORD, NEW JERSEY'S KNUCKLEHEAD

HALL OF FAME IS BENNIES;

THAT GABAGOOL FROM PHILLY WHO

THOUGHT HE COULD PUMP HIS OWN

GAS; CHRIS CHRISTIE;

CHRIS CHRISTIE AGAIN BECAUSE OF

THAT TIME HE SAT ON THE BEACH;

RALPH CIFARETTO; SLOW DRIVERS;

FAST DRIVERS; AND JARED KUSHNER.

YEAH!

JARED'S FROM JERSEY!

I KNOW HE LOOKS LIKE HE JUST

EMERGED FROM A VAT OF VASELINE

FULLY FORMED AS A SHINY HAUNTED

HATE MANNEQUIN, BUT HE'S

ACTUALLY FROM THE GARDEN STATE.

AND THAT WASN'T EVEN THE MOST

IRRITATING RECENT MASS

GATHERING.

THIS MORNING, THIS VIRAL

VIDEO FROM A CHAINSMOKERS

CONCERT IN THE HAMPTONS OVER THE

WEEKEND, WITH FANS SEEMINGLY

IGNORING ALL SOCIAL DISTANCING,

HAS NEW YORK'S GOVERNOR UP IN

ARMS.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

IMAGINE RISKING YOUR LIFE TO SEE

THE CHAINSMOKERS.

ALTHOUGH IT AT LEAST ADDS A NEW

DIMENSION TO THEIR LYRICS, NOW

THAT "WE AIN'T EVER GETTING

OLDER" COULD REASONABLY BE

FOLLOWED BY "BECAUSE WE

CONTRACTED A DEADLY VIRUS AT OUR

STUPID CONCERT IN SOUTHAMPTON."

AND TO BE FAIR, THE EVENT

ORGANIZERS AND PERFORMERS SAY

THAT THEY FOLLOWED ALL CDC AND

STATE GUIDELINES.

AND THEY CERTAINLY DID THEIR

PART TO TRY AND DRIVE PEOPLE

AWAY.

THE CONCERT ALSO FEATURED A

PERFORMANCE BY GOLDMAN SACHS CEO

DAVID SOLOMON, WHO MOONLIGHTS AS

A DJ.

YES.

HE DOES.

HE APPARENTLY CALLS HIMSELF

"DJ D-SOL," AND ON SPOTIFY, HE

HAS NOT ONE, NOT TWO, BUT SEVEN

REMIXES OF THE R&B CLASSIC

"RESCUE ME," ALL OF WHICH ARE...

AND I SAY THIS AS RESPECTFULLY

AS POSSIBLE... FUCKING GARBAGE.

AND WHILE I PERSONALLY DON'T

UNDERSTAND THE ATTRACTION IN

WATCHING DJ BUSINESS

BRUCE WILLIS HIT PLAY

ON AN iPHONE, IT IS CLEAR,

RECKLESSNESS IS ABOUNDING RIGHT

NOW, HEIGHTENING THE NEED FOR

STRONG LEADERSHIP.

BUT UNFORTUNATELY, WE'RE GETTING

THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF THAT.

JUST A WEEK AFTER TRUMP WAS

GIVEN CREDIT FOR "SHIFTING HIS

RHETORIC" BY URGING AMERICANS TO

WEAR MASKS, HE DID SOMETHING

THAT, EVEN FOR HIM, WAS

SHOCKINGLY RECKLESS.

THE PRESIDENT AGAIN USED HIS

TWITTER ACCOUNT TO SPREAD

MISINFORMATION, TWEETING VIDEO

OF A DOCTOR DENOUNCING THE USE

OF MASKS AND PROMOTING

HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE.

THAT DOCTOR, WHO WAS ONLY

LICENSED TO PRACTICE MEDICINE IN

TEXAS LAST NOVEMBER, HAS A

HISTORY OF OUTRAGEOUS

STATEMENTS, SUCH AS SAYING

HEALTH PROBLEMS CAN BE CAUSED BY

DEMONS.

YEAH!

THAT'S PRETTY UPSETTING COMING

FROM A DOCTOR.

YOU'D EXPECT THAT BULLSHIT FROM

SOME IDIOT WHO CLAIMS TO KNOW

ABOUT MEDICINE BUT DOESN'T HAVE

A MEDICAL LICENSE, LIKE YOUR

DIPSHIT UNCLE OR DR. PHIL.

BUT FROM A LICENSED MEDICAL

PROFESSIONAL, THAT IS WILDLY

IRRESPONSIBLE.

SHE'S ALSO REPORTEDLY CLAIMED

THAT ALIEN DNA IS BEING USED IN

MEDICAL TREATMENTS, THE

GOVERNMENT IS RUN BY REPTILIANS,

AND THAT SCIENTISTS ARE COOKING

UP A VACCINE TO PREVENT PEOPLE

FROM BECOMING RELIGIOUS.

WHICH, LOOK, WE ALREADY HAVE

THAT LAST ONE.

IT'S CALLED "KIRK CAMERON'S

SAVING CHRISTMAS."

POP THAT DVD IN AND 79 MINUTES

LATER YOU'LL BE CONVINCED NO GOD

WOULD LET THIS HAPPEN.

AND WHEN HER COMMENTS WERE

POINTED OUT TO THE PRESIDENT, HE

REFUSED TO BACK DOWN.

SHE WAS ON AIR ALONG WITH

MANY OTHER DOCTORS.

THEY WERE BIG FANS OF

HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE, AND I

THOUGHT SHE WAS VERY IMPRESSIVE

IN THE SENSE THAT, FROM WHERE

SHE CAME...

I DON'T KNOW WHICH COUNTRY

SHE COMES FROM, BUT SHE SAID

THAT SHE'S HAD TREMENDOUS

SUCCESS WITH HUNDREDS OF

DIFFERENT PATIENTS.

AND I THOUGHT HER VOICE WAS AN

IMPORTANT VOICE, BUT I KNOW

NOTHING ABOUT HER.

WOW.

HE THINKS HER VOICE IS IMPORTANT

BUT ADMITS TO KNOWING NOTHING

ELSE ABOUT HER.

THAT IS NOT THE PHILOSOPHY YOU

WANT WHEN VETTING MEDICAL

EXPERTS.

IT'S BARELY A PHILOSOPHY YOU

WANT ON "THE VOICE."

SURE, THE JUDGES START BY

KNOWING NOTHING ABOUT THE

CONTESTANTS BESIDES THEIR VOICE,

BUT ONCE THEIR INTERESTS ARE

PIQUED, THEY KNOW TO TURN THE

FUCK AROUND TO INVESTIGATE.

AND DOWNPLAYING THE RISKS OF

THIS CAN HAVE DIRE CONSEQUENCES.

ON THURSDAY, HERMAN CAIN DIED,

ABOUT SIX WEEKS AFTER ATTENDING

A TRUMP RALLY IN TULSA WHERE HE

WAS PHOTOGRAPHED WITHOUT A MASK,

LATER TWEETING THAT "PEOPLE ARE

FED UP" OF BEING MADE TO WEAR

THEM.

AND THIS, SADLY, WON'T BE THE

LAST TIME WE SEE PEOPLE FIND OUT

THE HARD WAY HOW SERIOUS THIS

IS.

BECAUSE ON WEDNESDAY, YET

ANOTHER MEMBER OF CONGRESS

TESTED POSITIVE.

TEXAS CONGRESSMAN

LOUIE GOHMERT, SPOTTED ON

CAPITOL HILL JUST YESTERDAY

MASKLESS, WALKING NEAR

ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR,

GETTING HIS DIAGNOSIS AT THE

WHITE HOUSE THIS MORNING.

BUT GOHMERT DIDN'T IMMEDIATELY

ISOLATE HIMSELF.

INSTEAD HE RETURNED TO HIS

CONGRESSIONAL OFFICE TO TELL HIS

STAFF IN PERSON.

WHAT?

IF THAT'S TRUE, IT'S ABSURD.

BECAUSE "I'M CARRYING A HIGHLY

INFECTIOUS DISEASE" IS NEVER

NEWS THAT NEEDS TO BE TOLD IN

PERSON, ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE

ARE PLENTY OF BETTER WAYS TO DO

IT.

YOU COULD HIRE A SKYWRITER TO

WRITE "I'M POSI FOR CORONA."

YOU COULD MAKE A CUSTOM

CROSSWORD PUZZLE THAT SPELLS OUT

"YOUR BOSS HAS THE CORONA."

YOU COULD GO ON CAMEO AND GET

STEVE GUTTENBERG TO RECORD A

MESSAGE FOR THEM.

SERIOUSLY, HE'LL DO IT.

LOOK.

HEY, QUICK MESSAGE FOR

LOUIE GOHMERT'S STAFF:

YOUR BOSS HAS THE 'RONA.

OBVIOUSLY HE'D HAVE TO BE A

COMPLETE IDIOT TO TELL YOU THAT

IN PERSON, SO HE GOT ME,

STEVE GUTTENBERG, TO TELL YOU

INSTEAD.

STAY 6 FEET AWAY OR MORE FROM

HIM AND WEAR A MASK.

I WAS IN "POLICE ACADEMY"!

BYE!

BEST $150 I EVER SPENT.

NOW, GOHMERT INSISTS HE NOTIFIED

HIS STAFF BY PHONE, AND ONLY

THEN DID HE VISIT HIS OFFICE,

WEARING A MASK.

BUT SHOWING UP IN PERSON AT ALL

IS STILL THE LEVEL OF

CLUELESSNESS YOU'D KIND OF

EXPECT FROM A GUY WHO ALWAYS

LOOKS LIKE HE HASN'T YET

REALIZED HIS TOUPEE BLEW OFF.

AND THIS IS REPORTEDLY JUST THE

BEGINNING OF HIS STAFF'S

PROBLEMS WITH HIM.

THIS IS A LETTER FROM AN AIDE

TO LOUIE GOHMERT, POLITICO SAYS.

"THANK YOU FOR LETTING OUR

OFFICE KNOW LOUIE TESTED

POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS."

"WHEN YOU WRITE YOUR STORY, CAN

YOU INCLUDE THE FACT THAT LOUIE

REQUIRES FULL STAFF TO BE IN THE

OFFICE, INCLUDING THREE INTERNS,

SO THAT WE CAN BE AN EXAMPLE TO

AMERICA ON HOW TO OPEN UP

SAFELY.

WHEN PROBING THE OFFICE, YOU

MIGHT WANT TO ASK HOW OFTEN WERE

PEOPLE BERATED FOR WEARING

MASKS."

WOW.

AND WHILE GOHMERT DISPUTES THAT

CLAIM TOO, IT GOES WITHOUT

SAYING, NOBODY SHOULD BE BERATED

FOR WEARING A MASK.

UNLESS, OF COURSE, IT'S HANGING

BELOW THEIR CHIN, WHICH IS A BIT

LIKE PUTTING A DIAPER AROUND A

BABY'S ANKLES.

YOU CLEARLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND

HOW BUTTS WORK.

AND LOOK, THIS RECKLESS

INDIFFERENCE... WHETHER IT'S

COMING FROM THESE IDIOTS, THIS

IDIOT, THAT IDIOT, THIS

ESPECIALLY IDIOTIC IDIOT,

OR THE MOST POWERFUL IDIOT

OF ALL... IS COSTING PEOPLE

THEIR LIVES.

AND IT'S PAST TIME THAT WE START

PROTECTING EACH OTHER AND TAKING

THIS SERIOUSLY.

BECAUSE THANKS TO THESE GUYS,

THE KNUCKLEHEAD HALL OF FAME IS

GETTING PRETTY FUCKING CROWDED.

AND NOW THIS.

AND NON

EXTRA $150, STEVE GUTENBERG

RAINSTORMS NAMES FOR A

COWORKER'S NEW DOG.

LET'S SEE.

DAISY, DANIEL.

FRANK.

BINGO.

SPORT.

VIRGINIA WOOF.

BUMBLEBEE.

ALL, DR. WAGS-A-LOT.

BUT, YOU CAN NEVER GO WRONG WITH

BINGO.

AND NOW, AW,

THANKS, STEVE.

MOVING ON.

OUR MAIN STORY TONIGHT CONCERNS

HISTORY, A SUBJECT SO

FASCINATING, WE'RE SOMETIMES

WILLING TO DO CRAZY EXPERIMENTS

SCIENTISTS WERE ABLE TO MIMIC

NESYAMUN'S VOICE BY RECREATING

HIS MOUTH AND VOCAL CORDS WITH A

3D PRINTER.

IT ALLOWED THEM TO PRODUCE A

SINGLE SOUND.

EH.

EH.

EH.

EXCELLENT.

FINALLY AN ANSWER TO THE

QUESTION THAT SCHOLARS HAVE

WHAT WOULD AN

ANCIENT EGYPTIAN SOUND LIKE IF

HE ORGASMED WHILE TAKING

ANTIDEPRESSANTS?

BUT LOOK, SADLY, HISTORY ISN'T

ALWAYS FUN, WEIRD MUMMY

VENTRILOQUY.

IT CAN BE PAINFUL TOO, AS

AMERICA HAS RECENTLY BEEN

REMINDED, BECAUSE GEORGE FLOYD'S

MURDER HAS FORCED A HARD

NATIONAL CONVERSATION ABOUT THIS

COUNTRY'S PRESENT, WHICH IS

IMPOSSIBLE TO DO EFFECTIVELY

WITHOUT RE-EXAMINING ITS PAST.

AND UNFORTUNATELY, THAT'S NOT A

CONVERSATION THAT ALL AMERICANS

ARE WELL-EQUIPPED TO HAVE,

BECAUSE THERE ARE SOME

EMBARRASSING GAPS IN MANY

PEOPLE'S KNOWLEDGE OF U.S.

HISTORY.

JUST LOOK WHAT HAPPENED A FEW

WEEKS BACK, WHEN THE PRESIDENT,

IN THE MIDST OF NATIONWIDE

BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTS,

ANNOUNCED PLANS TO HOLD A RALLY

IN TULSA ON JUNE 19TH, A

DECISION ASTONISHINGLY TONE-DEAF

FOR TWO KEY REASONS.

NEXT FRIDAY, JUNE 19TH, IS

JUNETEENTH, AN ANNUAL HOLIDAY

COMMEMORATING THE END OF SLAVERY

IN THE U.S.

AS FOR TULSA, 99 YEARS AGO THIS

MONTH IN 1921, THE CITY

WITNESSED THE TULSA RACE

MASSACRE, ONE OF THE NATION'S

WORST OUTBREAKS OF RACIAL

VIOLENCE, RECENTLY PORTRAYED IN

HBO'S "WATCHMEN."

NOW, THE REASON THEY'RE

MENTIONING "WATCHMEN" THERE IS,

A LOT OF AMERICANS LEARNED ABOUT

THE TULSA RACE MASSACRE FOR THE

VERY FIRST TIME, NEARLY A

CENTURY AFTER IT HAPPENED, FROM

WATCHING THAT SHOW.

BASICALLY, THE NIGHT THAT

EPISODE AIRED, MANY WHITE

AMERICANS WENT, "HOLY SHIT!

I HAD NO IDEA THIS HAPPENED!"

WHILE MANY BLACK AMERICANS WENT,

"HOLY SHIT!

WHITE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO FREAK

THE FUCK OUT WHEN THEY FIND OUT

THIS HAPPENED!

DEBBIE AT WORK IS GOING TO WANT

TO HAVE A CONVERSATION."

THE COVERAGE OF THAT TRUMP RALLY

DIDN'T JUST INTRODUCE MANY

AMERICANS TO THAT MASSACRE, BUT

ALSO TO THE VERY CONCEPT OF

JUNETEENTH, THE DAY THAT

COMMEMORATES WHEN UNION TROOPS

INFORMED TEXAS THAT ENSLAVED

PEOPLE THAT MUST FINALLY BE

FREED,

TWO YEARS AFTER SLAVERY HAD BEEN

ABOLISHED, BY THE WAY.

A RECENT POLL SHOWED A SHOCKING

48% OF AMERICANS WERE EITHER

"NOT AT ALL" OR "NOT VERY AWARE"

OF JUNETEENTH.

WHICH IS NOT GOOD.

I MEAN, IT'D BE FINE IF NEARLY

HALF OF AMERICANS WERE UNAWARE

OF GROUNDHOG DAY, THE

MEANINGLESS DATE WHEN AN IDIOT

DRESSED LIKE GOTH WILLY WONKA

HOLDS UP A NON-CLAIRVOYANT

WOODCHUCK WHOSE

FACE SOMEHOW SCREAMS

"I HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO."

BUT JUNETEENTH ACTUALLY MEANS

SOMETHING.

AND THAT'S JUST ONE OF MANY GAPS

IN KNOWLEDGE THAT SOME ARE NOW

REALIZING THEY HAVE.

JUST WATCH JOY BEHAR TRY TO

EXPLAIN WHY STATUES OF

GEORGE WASHINGTON SHOULD BE LEFT

ALONE, AND IN DOING SO, ACTUALLY

LEARNING SOMETHING.

BUT GEORGE WASHINGTON,

BESIDES BEING A FOUNDING FATHER

AND A GREAT GENERAL AND SOMEBODY

WHO WAS SO INSTRUMENTAL IN THIS

UNION THAT WE HAVE, IN THIS

REPUBLIC, ALSO FREED HIS SLAVES.

SO IF YOU'RE GONNA TAKE SOMEBODY

DOWN, TAKE DOWN...

MMM.

THOMAS JEFFERSON, WHO

DIDN'T... WHO DIDN'T FREE HIS

SLAVES.

NO?

SUNNY DISAGREES.

HE DIDN'T FREE HIS SLAVES.

HE DIDN'T.

HE ACTUALLY SPENT THE LAST

YEAR OF HIS LIFE...

OH.

RET... LIKE, RELENTLESSLY

PURSUING SLAVES THAT TRIED TO

RUN AWAY.

HE WAS A HORRIBLE SLAVE OWNER.

YEAH, HE WAS.

AS USUAL, SUNNY HOSTIN IS VERY

RIGHT, AND MEGHAN McCAIN IS

VERY "THERE."

BECAUSE, WHILE WASHINGTON DID

PROMISE TO FREE HIS SLAVES IN

HIS WILL, IT SPECIFIED THEY

WOULDN'T GAIN THEIR FREEDOM

UNTIL HIS WIFE'S DEATH.

SO ONLY ONE PERSON WAS FREED

IMMEDIATELY AFTER WASHINGTON

DIED OUT OF OVER A HUNDRED.

ALSO, HE ACTUALLY BECAME A SLAVE

OWNER AT JUST 11 YEARS OLD...

A FACT SO HORRIFYING, IT'S HARD

TO KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT.

AT THE VERY LEAST, THE STORY OF

HIM CHOPPING DOWN A CHERRY TREE

AS A CHILD AND ADMITTING IT TO

HIS FATHER BY SAYING "I CANNOT

TELL A LIE" GETS WAY LESS

CHARMING IF THE NEXT PART IS HIS

PARENTS SAYING, "THANK YOU FOR

BEING HONEST, GEORGE.

AS A REWARD, HERE ARE SOME HUMAN

BEINGS TO OWN."

AND THE THING IS, JOY BEHAR'S

VERSION OF HISTORY, WHILE NOT

ACCURATE, IS DEFINITELY MORE

PALATABLE, ESPECIALLY FOR WHITE

PEOPLE, AND SEEKING OUT

MISLEADINGLY COMFORTING VERSIONS

OF HISTORY IS A PATTERN WE'VE

SEEN AGAIN AND AGAIN THIS YEAR.

FROM THE NUMBER-ONE MOVIE ON

NETFLIX DURING THE PROTESTS

FOLLOWING GEORGE FLOYD'S MURDER

BEING "THE HELP" TO JUST LAST

WEEK, WHEN SENATOR TOM COTTON

SAID SCHOOLS SHOULD LOSE FEDERAL

FUNDING IF THEY TEACH A

CURRICULUM BASED ON

"THE NEW YORK TIMES'"

1619 PROJECT, WHICH BRINGS

SLAVERY INTO THE FOREFRONT OF

AMERICAN HISTORY.

AND PERHAPS THE MOST ABSURD

DISCONNECT WAS, IN THE WAKE OF

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S SPEECH AT A

...EULOGY FOR

JOHN LEWIS THIS WEEK, IN

WHICH OBAMA ADVOCATED FOR

ABOLISHING THE FILIBUSTER TO

PROTECT THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT,

TUCKER CARLSON HAD THIS TO SAY:

IMAGINE IF SOME GREASY

POLITICIAN SHOWED UP AT YOUR

LOVED ONE'S FUNERAL AND STARTED

THROWING AROUND STUPID PARTISAN

TALKING POINTS ABOUT SENATE

PROCEDURE.

CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT?

YOU WOULD BE SHOCKED IF THAT

HAPPENED.

YOU WOULD PROBABLY WALK OUT.

DESECRATING A FUNERAL WITH

CAMPAIGN SLOGANS, WHAT KIND OF

PERSON WOULD DO THAT?

WEIGHT.

WHAT KIND OF PERSON

WOULD HONOR A FRIEND'S LEGACY BY

CONTINUING TO ADVOCATE FOR

VOTING RIGHTS?

I CAN THINK OF ONE.

JOHN FUCKING LEWIS WOULD DO

THAT.

AND THE TRUTH IS, WITH SO MANY

PEOPLE MISUNDERSTANDING OUR

HISTORY, EITHER BY ACCIDENT OR

VERY MUCH ON PURPOSE, WE THOUGHT

TONIGHT IT MIGHT BE WORTH

TALKING ABOUT HOW THE HISTORY OF

RACE IN AMERICA IS CURRENTLY

TAUGHT IN SCHOOLS... WHAT THE

GAPS ARE, WHY THEY'RE THERE, AND

HOW WE CAN FILL THEM.

AND LET'S START WITH THE FACT

THAT THERE ARE NO NATIONAL

STANDARDS FOR WHAT TOPICS OR

FIGURES STUDENTS MUST LEARN

ABOUT AT SCHOOL.

AND STATE STANDARDS VARY WIDELY.

WHEN CBS LOOKED INTO IT THIS

YEAR, IT FOUND "SEVEN STATES DO

NOT DIRECTLY MENTION SLAVERY IN

THEIR STATE STANDARDS," ONLY TWO

MENTION WHITE SUPREMACY, WHILE

16 LIST STATES' RIGHTS AS A

CAUSE OF THE CIVIL WAR.

AND WE ACTUALLY DID A WHOLE

21-MINUTE PIECE ABOUT WHAT'S

WRONG WITH THAT ARGUMENT, BUT

THIS CLIP EXPLAINS IT

SIGNIFICANTLY QUICKER.

THE ROOT OF THE CIVIL WAR IS

CLEAR.

WHAT CAUSED THE CIVIL WAR

WAS...

SLAVERY.

THE MAIN CAUSE AND WHY THE

SOUTH DECIDED TO SECEDE WAS...

SLAVERY.

SO, WHY DO OUR HISTORY

TEXTBOOKS GET IT SO WRONG?

Y'ALL DON'T WANT TO DEAL WITH

THE UP THAT

Y'ALL ANCESTORS DID.

YEAH, THAT PRETTY MUCH

SUMS IT UP.

IT CAN BE HARD TO DEAL WITH WHAT

YOUR ANCESTORS DID... TRUST ME,

I'M BRITISH.

ONE OF OUR MOST FAMOUS TOURIST

ATTRACTIONS IS A CASTLE WHERE WE

EXECUTED PEOPLE FOR CENTURIES

AND HAVE NOW FILLED WITH

STOLEN JEWELS, LIKE THE

KOH-I-NOOR DIAMOND... WHICH,

ACCORDING TO THE TOWER'S

WEBSITE, WAS "PRESENTED TO

QUEEN VICTORIA."

AND THAT VERB IS DOING A LOT OF

HEAVY LIFTING THERE.

IT WAS "PRESENTED" IN PRETTY

MUCH THE SAME WAY THAT INDIA

WAS, INSOMUCH AS IT WAS PRESENT

AND BRITAIN FUCKING TOOK IT.

AND FOR ALL THE CURRENT

HAND-WRINGING ABOUT HOW ANY

CHANGES WOULD POLITICIZE U.S.

HISTORY, IT'S WORTH REMEMBERING

THAT THE TEACHING OF IT HAS

ALWAYS BEEN POLITICAL.

AFTER THE CIVIL WAR, THE BATTLE

OVER HOW HISTORY WOULD BE TOLD

IN TEXTBOOKS WAS INTENSE.

BECAUSE YOU KNOW THE SAYING

"HISTORY IS WRITTEN BY THE

WINNERS?

THE SOUTH SET OUT TO PROVE THAT

WRONG.

ONE ORGANIZATION, CALLED THE

UNITED DAUGHTERS OF THE

CONFEDERACY, CAMPAIGNED FOR

SCHOOLS TO ADOPT TEXTBOOKS THAT

WOULD "ACCORD FULL JUSTICE TO

THE SOUTH," TELLING LIBRARIANS

TO WRITE "UNJUST TO THE SOUTH"

ON THE ONES THAT DIDN'T.

WHICH IS CLEARLY ABSURD.

THAT'D BE LIKE A LIBRARIAN

WRITING "UNJUST TO VOLDEMORT" ON

"HARRY POTTERS" ONE THROUGH

SEVEN OR "UNJUST TO WHALE" ON

"MOBY DICK" OR "UNJUST TO

L. RON HUBBARD" ON LEAH REMINI'S

SURVIVING

HOLLYWOOD AND SCIENTOLOGY."

BUT THAT IMPULSE... TO DOWNPLAY

THE HORRORS OF SLAVERY... HAS

MARKED HOW SCHOOLCHILDREN HAVE

LEARNED ABOUT IT EVER SINCE.

A GEORGIA TEXTBOOK FROM THE

'50s CLAIMED, "THE MASTER OFTEN

HAD A BARBECUE OR A PICNIC FOR

HIS SLAVES.

THEN THEY HAD A GREAT FROLIC."

AND LOOK, EVERY EXCUSE FOR

SLAVERY IS SHITTY, BUT "WE GAVE

THEM SANDWICHES SOMETIMES" HAS

TO BE ONE OF THE SHITTIEST.

AND SOME WHO LEARNED HISTORY

FROM BOOKS LIKE THOSE COULDN'T

BELIEVE WHAT THEY WERE BEING

TOLD AT THE TIME... JUST WATCH

THIS ALABAMA SCHOOLTEACHER

REVISIT HER FOURTH-GRADE

TEXTBOOK, "KNOW ALABAMA":

"SOME SLAVES WERE GOOD

WORKERS AND VERY OBEDIENT.

MANY TOOK PRIDE IN WHAT THEY DID

AND LOVED THEIR CABINS AND THE

PLANTATION AS IF THEY ACTUALLY

OWNED THEM.

OTHERS WERE LAZY, DISOBEDIENT,

AND SOMETIMES VICIOUS."

I WONDER WHAT KIND OF SLAVE I

WOULD HAVE BEEN.

I WONDER IF I WOULD HAVE BEEN

ONE OF THOSE LAZY SLAVES WHO

JUST WERE NOT WILLING TO WORK

FOR NOTHING OR DISOBEDIENT

BECAUSE I JUST DIDN'T WANT TO BE

A SLAVE.

YEAH.

THAT CONTEMPT IS FULLY MERITED

THERE.

BECAUSE AMONG OTHER THINGS, THE

IDEA THAT BEING A "LAZY" SLAVE

WAS A CHARACTER FLAW, AS OPPOSED

TO A FREQUENT ACT OF PROTEST

AGAINST A BRUTALLY UNJUST

SYSTEM, IS INFURIATING.

AND IT MAKES "KNOW ALABAMA"

SOUND LESS LIKE THE TITLE OF

THAT TEXTBOOK AND MORE LIKE

SOMETHING YOU'D YELL AT IT:

"NO, ALABAMA!

STOP THAT!

BAD TEXTBOOK!

NO!"

AND THOSE PASSAGES WERE IN THE

STANDARD ALABAMA HISTORY

TEXTBOOK INTO THE '70s.

SO PEOPLE WHO READ THEM AND MAY

HAVE BEEN SHAPED BY THEIR

CONTENT ARE NOW IN THEIR 50s,

DOING THINGS LIKE RUNNING

BUSINESSES OR HOLDING ELECTED

OFFICE.

AND WHILE NEWER TEXTBOOKS MAY

NOT BE QUITE THAT EGREGIOUS,

THERE ARE STILL PROBLEMS.

EARLIER THIS YEAR, ONE HISTORIAN

FLAGGED A PRETTY REMARKABLE

EUPHEMISM IN A CURRENT TEXAS

THIS IS A PICTURE, AND THE

CAPTION SAYS, "SOME U.S.

SETTLERS BROUGHT SLAVES TO TEXAS

TO HELP WORK THE FIELDS AND DO

CHORES."

AND, YOU KNOW, I DON'T...

I DON'T THINK WE SHOULD DESCRIBE

SLAVE LABOR AS CHORES.

YEAH, WE SHOULDN'T.

CALLING SLAVE LABOR "CHORES" IS

A EUPHEMISM ON PAR WITH CALLING

HITLER A "BEST-SELLING AUTHOR

WITH A SIDE HUSTLE," OR JFK'S

ASSASSINATION A "BAD HAIR DAY"

OR THIS "A COMEDY SHOW."

AND LOOK, STATE STANDARDS AND

TEXTBOOKS ARE JUST A BASELINE

HERE.

WHAT HAPPENS IN A CLASSROOM

LARGELY DEPENDS ON TEACHERS, WHO

HAVE A VERY DIFFICULT JOB, OFTEN

WORKING WITH SCANT RESOURCES,

MEANING THAT, AMONG OTHER

THINGS, THEY MAY NOT BE ABLE TO

GET UPDATED VERSIONS OF

TEXTBOOKS.

AND SOME WORK TO CORRECT POOR

MATERIALS.

BUT OTHERS CAN ACTUALLY MAKE

THINGS EVEN WORSE, WITH

TONE-DEAF ASSIGNMENTS AND

CLASSROOM EXERCISES THAT YOU MAY

BE FAMILIAR WITH FROM LOCAL NEWS

STORIES LIKE THESE:

THIS IS THE ACTIVITY IN

QUESTION.

IT ASKS STUDENTS TO CHOOSE TO BE

A SLAVE OR A SLAVE OWNER, AND

THEN TO WRITE A JOURNAL ENTRY

THAT DESCRIBES DAILY ACTIVITIES

BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR.

THE QUESTION ABOUT SLAVERY

READ, "YOU OWN A PLANTATION OR

FARM AND THEREFORE NEED MORE

WORKERS.

SET YOUR PRICE FOR A SLAVE.

THESE COULD BE WORTH A LOT.

THIS NORTH CAROLINA

GRANDMOTHER COULDN'T BELIEVE

THE ASSIGNMENT GIVEN TO HER

FOURTH GRADER.

AND THEN THIS GAME IS CALLED

"ESCAPING SLAVERY."

A SLAVERY-THEMED

MONOPOLY-LIKE GAME STUDENTS

PLAYED IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

CHILDREN WORKED IN SMALL GROUPS,

GOT THIS "FREEDOM PUNCH CARD."

IF THE GROUP RAN INTO TROUBLE,

THE CARD SAID THEY'D BE SEVERELY

PUNISHED AND SENT BACK TO THE

PLANTATION TO WORK AS A SLAVE.

WERE THEY GONNA HANG THEM?

WERE THEY GONNA KILL 'EM?

WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU

DOING THERE?

YOU CAN'T REDUCE A PERSON'S

FREEDOM FROM SLAVERY DOWN TO

WHAT IS BASICALLY A JIMMY JOHN'S

PUNCH CARD.

AND JUST IMAGINE WHAT IT WOULD

FEEL LIKE TO BE A BLACK KID IN

THAT CLASSROOM... OR, IF YOU

DON'T HAVE TO IMAGINE, REMEMBER.

BECAUSE IT'S NOT JUST THE

HISTORY THAT HURTS HERE, IT'S

HOW YOU'RE BEING MADE TO FEEL

WHILE YOU LEARN IT.

AND THE FREQUENCY WITH WHICH

STORIES LIKE THOSE TEND TO CROP

UP MAY HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH

THE FACT THAT THE OVERWHELMING

MAJORITY OF SCHOOL TEACHERS ARE

WHITE AND MANY MAY'VE GREW UP

LEARNING THE SAME SKEWED VERSION

OF HISTORY THAT THEY'RE NOW

PASSING ON.

AND WHEN YOU TAKE ALL THIS

TOGETHER, WE'RE GIVING KIDS

INCOMPLETE EDUCATIONS IN

HISTORY, WHILE ALSO DOING REAL

HARM.

BECAUSE THOSE KIDS GROW UP.

JUST LISTEN TO THIS GUY FROM

TULSA EXPLAINING HOW HE FELT

WHEN HE FINALLY FOUND OUT ABOUT

THAT 1921 MASSACRE WHERE HE

LIVED.

WHEN I WENT TO OU IN 1998, I

WAS SITTING IN A CLASS OF

AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY.

AND THE PROFESSOR WAS TALKING

ABOUT THIS PLACE WHERE

BLACK PEOPLE HAD BUSINESSES AND

HAD MONEY AND HAD DOCTORS AND

LAWYERS.

AND HE SAID IT WAS IN TULSA.

AND I RAISED MY HAND, I SAID,

"NO, I'M FROM TULSA.

THAT'S NOT ACCURATE."

AND HE WAS TALKING ABOUT THIS

MASSACRE, RIOT.

I SAID, "MAN, WHAT ARE YOU

TALKING ABOUT?"

I SAID, "I WENT TO SCHOOL ON

GREENWOOD.

I'VE NEVER HEARD OF THIS EVER."

THAT'S TERRIBLE.

AND HIS SCHOOL REALLY LET

HIM DOWN THERE.

THINK OF THE EMOTIONAL WHIPLASH

THAT MAN WENT THROUGH.

HE FOUND OUT SOMETHING AMAZING

HAD ONCE EXISTED RIGHT WHERE HE

LIVED, SOMETHING HORRIBLE HAD

TAKEN IT AWAY, AND THAT THE

HISTORY HAD BEEN KEPT FROM HIM.

AND ALL OF THIS HAD HAPPENED

LESS THAN A HUNDRED YEARS AGO.

THE DINOSAURS DIED 65 MILLION

YEARS AGO, AND YOU'D STILL BE

FLOORED IF SOMEONE ONLY JUST

TOLD YOU ABOUT THEM.

"I'M SORRY, THERE WERE WHAT?

WHERE?

WHAT DO YOU MEAN, 'EVERYWHERE'?

AND THEY WERE HOW BIG?

SOME OF THEM COULD FLY?

WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM?

OH, NO!

HOW THE FUCK IS THIS THE FIRST

TIME SOMEONE'S MENTIONING THIS

TO ME?"

LOOK, IT'S PRETTY CLEAR WE NEED

TO UPGRADE THE WAY WE TEACH OUR

HISTORY.

AND WHILE I OBVIOUSLY DON'T HAVE

TIME TO GO THROUGH ALL OF THAT

HISTORY RIGHT NOW, IT MIGHT BE

WORTH GOING SLOWLY THROUGH THREE

BIG MISTAKES THAT MANY

HISTORIANS BELIEVE WE MAKE AND

SHOULD CORRECT IN SCHOOLS AND

BEYOND.

THE FIRST IS THAT WE DON'T FULLY

ACKNOWLEDGE THE HISTORY OF WHITE

SUPREMACY IN AMERICA, FROM ITS

FOUNDING TO THE PRESENT DAY.

AND I KNOW THAT ANYTIME SOMEONE

SUGGESTS TELLING CHILDREN

ANYTHING LESS THAN "JESUS WOULD

HAVE BEEN BEST FRIENDS WITH

ABRAHAM LINCOLN," THE PUSHBACK

IS FIERCE.

WATCH LAURA INGRAHAM TAKE ONE

SCHOOL BOARD'S DISCUSSION OF AN

ANTI-RACIST CURRICULUM AND SPIN

IT OUT INTO A DYSTOPIAN VISION

DESIGNED TO TERRIFY HER VIEWERS.

NOW, EVERY SUBJECT, EVERY

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY WILL BE

PERVERTED TO TURN YOUR KIDS INTO

MINI ILHAN OMARS.

THEY'RE GONNA LEARN THAT

CAPITALISM IS RACIST, HISTORY AS

CONVENTIONALLY TAUGHT IS RACIST,

LITERATURE... MOST OF THAT'S

RACIST... PATRIOTIC SONGS,

RACIST.

AND THE DECLARATION AND THE

CONSTITUTION, OF COURSE, THEY'RE

RACIST.

ARE YOU SENSING A THEME HERE?

NOW, LAURA INGRAHAM

MIGHT NOT SEEM LIKE SOMEONE

CAPABLE OF FOLLOWING ANYTHING,

APART FROM BLACK TEENAGERS

SIMPLY TRYING TO SHOP AT CVS,

BUT I THINK SHE HAS

PICKED UP ON A THEME THERE,

BECAUSE, SEEING AS SHE BROUGHT

UP THE CONSTITUTION, LET'S TALK

ABOUT IT.

THAT DOCUMENT IS A LOT OF

THINGS... GENUINELY

REVOLUTIONARY AND THE FOUNDATION

OF AN IMPROBABLY LONG-LIVED

DEMOCRACY... BUT IT IS INFUSED

WITH AND INEXTRICABLY LINKED TO

SLAVERY AND A LEGACY OF RACIAL

INEQUALITY.

FROM THE THREE-FIFTHS CLAUSE

THROUGH THE FUGITIVE SLAVE

CLAUSE, THE CONSTITUTION BOTH

CODIFIED SLAVERY AND MADE IT

HARDER FOR INDIVIDUALS TO ESCAPE

IT.

AND THE FACT THE CONSTITUTION

IS INFUSED WITH RACISM DOES NOT

MEAN IT'S CANCELED.

IT'S NOT A YOUTUBER WHO'S JUST

NOW REALIZING IT WAS WRONG TO DO

BLACKFACE FOR 14 YEARS.

AND IT DEFINITELY DOESN'T MEAN

THAT KIDS SHOULDN'T LEARN ABOUT

IT.

BUT THEY SHOULD BE TAUGHT TO SEE

IT AS AN IMPERFECT DOCUMENT WITH

IMPERFECT AUTHORS WHO BOTH

EXTOLLED THE IDEALS OF FREEDOM

FOR ALL WHILE AT THE SAME TIME

CODIFYING SLAVERY.

AND THAT IS POSSIBLE TO DO.

KIDS CAN UNDERSTAND THAT THINGS

CAN BE RACIST AND ALSO OTHER

THINGS.

THE CONSTITUTION CAN BE

REVOLUTIONARY AND ALSO RACIST.

MOVIES CAN BE ROMANTIC AND ALSO

RACIST.

CHILDREN'S BOOKS CAN BE CHARMING

AND ALSO RACIST.

BROADCASTERS CAN BE INCREDIBLY

SUCCESSFUL AND ALSO RACIST.

AND IF KIDS ARE TAUGHT AN

INCOMPLETE HISTORY, THEY EITHER

NEVER GET THE FULL STORY OR,

WHEN THEY DO, DON'T HAVE THE

FRAMEWORK TO UNDERSTAND HOW THE

PIECES FIT TOGETHER.

HERE'S ONE PROFESSOR, EXPLAINING

HOW HARD IT CAN BE FOR HIS

STUDENTS LEARNING THE WHOLE

TRUTH ABOUT THOMAS JEFFERSON.

WHAT THAT CHILD IS THEN GONNA

DO IS SAY, "WAIT A MINUTE, WHY

DIDN'T I KNOW THIS BEFORE?

I'VE BEEN RUNNING AROUND HERE

SINGING THOMAS JEFFERSON'S

PRAISES AND I DIDN'T REALIZE

THAT HE'S THE R. KELLY OF HIS

TIME."

SO WHILE IT MAY BE

UNCOMFORTABLE, HE SAYS YOU HAVE

TO BE HONEST.

I SWEAR OHIOANS SUFFER FROM

UNDERGROUND RAILROAD-ITIS,

RIGHT?

OH, YEAH.

YOU ASK THEM, "WHO WOULD HAVE

BEEN... WHO WOULD HAVE BEEN FOR

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD?"

RIGHT?

IN CLASS, EVERY, EVERY WHITE

HAND GOES... I MEAN, LOOK, IF

ALL Y'ALL WOULD HAVE BEEN DOWN

FOR THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD,

THIS WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN

UNDERGROUND, RIGHT?

THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO NEED

FOR IT.

OKAY, FIRST OF ALL, IT

SAYS A LOT ABOUT JEFFERSON THAT,

IF YOU WENT BACK IN TIME,

EXPLAINED TO HIM WHO R. KELLY

WAS, AND TOLD HIM HE WAS BEING

COMPARED TO HIM, THE CHILD

PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES WOULD NOT BE

THE NUMBER ONE REASON HE'D BE

INSULTED BY THE COMPARISON.

BUT THAT PROFESSOR MAKES A GOOD

POINT.

THE LESS YOU KNOW ABOUT HISTORY,

THE EASIER IT IS TO IMAGINE

YOU'D ALWAYS BE ON THE RIGHT

SIDE OF IT, BECAUSE THE TRUTH

IS, THE HISTORY OF AMERICA IS A

HISTORY OF CHANGING AN AMERICA

THAT BADLY DOES NOT WANT TO BE

CHANGED.

THAT ACTUALLY BRINGS US TO THE

SECOND COMMON MISTAKE WE MAKE:

VIEWING AMERICAN HISTORY'S

PROGRESS AS IF IT WAS CONSTANTLY

AND INEVITABLY UPWARD.

TOO OFTEN, U.S. HISTORY IS

REDUCED DOWN TO, "THERE WAS

SLAVERY, THEN THERE WAS A

CIVIL WAR, THEN THERE WASN'T

SLAVERY ANYMORE, THEN THERE WAS

A CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, THEN

THERE WASN'T RACISM ANYMORE."

JUST A SMOOTH, STEADY UPWARD

ARC.

BUT THE MOMENTS ON EITHER SIDE

OF THOSE LANDMARK ERAS

COMPLICATE THE HELL OUT OF THAT

ARC, BECAUSE THEY WERE FILLED

WITH WHITE HOSTILITY AND UGLY

BACKSLIDING.

TAKE THE CENTURY BETWEEN

THE END OF THE CIVIL WAR AND THE

CIVIL RIGHTS ACT, WHICH IS OFTEN

GLOSSED OVER BUT SHOULD PROBABLY

BE TAUGHT A LOT MORE THOROUGHLY.

IT BEGINS WITH RECONSTRUCTION, A

DOZEN OR SO YEARS OF REAL

PROMISE, WHEN, VERY BASICALLY,

THE SOUTH WAS FORCED TO REDRAW

THEIR CONSTITUTIONS AND PERMIT

THE REGISTRATION OF BLACK

VOTERS.

THAT'S RIGHT, BLACK MEN

IN THE SOUTH WERE VOTING IN THE

1860s AND 1870s.

WHEN THEY FOUGHT FOR THE

VOTING RIGHTS ACT IN THE 1960s,

THEY WERE FIGHTING TO GET BACK

SOMETHING THEY'D ALREADY HAD.

THE EFFECTS OF RECONSTRUCTION

WERE ALMOST IMMEDIATE, WITH AN

ESTIMATED 2,000 BLACK MEN

SERVING IN ELECTIVE OFFICE

DURING THAT ERA, INCLUDING A

NUMBER IN CONGRESS.

AND JUST LOOK AT THESE GUYS.

A-PLUS ACHIEVEMENT, A-PLUS-PLUS

FACIAL HAIR.

AND SURE, YOU THINK YOU CAN GROW

YOUR MUSTACHE INTO YOUR BEARD...

TRY IT, YOU FUCKING CAN'T.

BUT IN RESPONSE TO THAT

PROGRESS, WHITE PEOPLE PUSHED

BACK AND PUSHED BACK HARD.

THE KKK WAS FOUNDED, 2,000 BLACK

PEOPLE WERE LYNCHED, AND BY

1877, THE SOUTH HAD REGAINED

LOCAL CONTROL.

HERE IS A CRAZY STORY YOU MIGHT

IN 1898, THE MULTI-RACIAL CITY

GOVERNMENT IN WILMINGTON,

NORTH CAROLINA, BECAME THE

TARGET OF THE "ONLY COUP D'ETAT

EVER TO TAKE PLACE ON AMERICAN

SOIL," IN WHICH A MOB OF UP TO

2,000 ARMED WHITE MEN KILLED AT

LEAST 60 BLACK RESIDENTS AND

REPLACED THE CITY'S ALDERMEN

WITH WHITE SUPREMACISTS.

AND IF THIS IS THE FIRST TIME

YOU'RE LEARNING ABOUT THE ONLY

COUP ON AMERICAN SOIL, YOU'RE

NOT ALONE, BECAUSE WHAT HAPPENED

THERE IS USUALLY EITHER NOT

TAUGHT AT ALL, OR, AS THE AUTHOR

OF A BOOK ON THAT MASSACRE

POINTS OUT, TAUGHT VERY, VERY

MISLEADINGLY.

HERE'S FROM A 1949 TEXTBOOK

QUOTE, "A NUMBER OF BLACKS WERE

JAILED FOR STARTING A RIOT AND A

NEW WHITE ADMINISTRATION TOOK

OVER WILMINGTON'S GOVERNMENT,"

END QUOTE.

YEAH.

THAT'S IT.

AND THAT IS NOT JUST DENYING

WHAT HAPPENED... IT'S EVEN

WORSE.

IT'S PLACING THE BLAME FOR IT ON

THE VICTIMS.

TECHNICALLY, YOU SHOULDN'T EVEN

CALL IT A HISTORY BOOK SO MUCH

AS "A BOOK OF LIES BECAUSE WE

KIND OF FELT A BIT WEIRD ABOUT

THAT WHOLE VIOLENT RACIST COUP

THING."

AND WILMINGTON WASN'T EVEN THE

MIDPOINT OF THAT CENTURY OF

BACKSLIDING.

AND THE LAURA INGRAHAMS OF THE

WORLD WILL PROBABLY SAY, YEAH,

THAT'S ALL UGLY, BUT IN A SIGN

OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM, THE

CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

ENDED ALL OF THAT WHEN

MARTIN LUTHER KING'S DREAM CAME

TRUE.

AND THAT IS THE VERSION THAT

MOST AMERICANS ARE TAUGHT IN

SCHOOL.

BUT IT LEAVES A LOT OUT.

IN FACT, TAKE THE MARCH ON

WASHINGTON.

THAT WASN'T ACTUALLY ITS FULL

NAME.

IT WAS CALLED THE

"MARCH ON WASHINGTON

FOR JOBS AND FREEDOM," AND THE

ECONOMIC JUSTICE PART OF IT WAS

FRONT AND CENTER.

KING ACTUALLY GREW MORE

OUTSPOKEN ABOUT THAT ISSUE IN

THE YEARS THAT FOLLOWED.

AND KING HIMSELF UNDERSTOOD WHY

IT WAS HARDER TO MAKE PROGRESS

ON THAT FRONT.

IT DIDN'T COST THE NATION ONE

PENNY TO INTEGRATE LUNCH

COUNTERS.

IT DIDN'T COST THE NATION ONE

PENNY TO GUARANTEE THE RIGHT TO

VOTE.

NOW WE ARE DEALING WITH ISSUES

THAT CANNOT BE SOLVED WITHOUT

THE NATION SPENDING BILLIONS OF

DOLLARS AND UNDERGOING A RADICAL

REDISTRIBUTION OF ECONOMIC

POWER.

YEAH, IT TURNS OUT THAT

MARTIN LUTHER KING HAD MORE THAN

ONE DREAM.

AND ONE OF THEM WAS ABOUT WEALTH

REDISTRIBUTION.

SO WHILE I KNOW IT'S EASY TO

DISTORT KING'S FULL LEGACY DOWN

TO THAT ONE SOARING SPEECH,

POINT TO THE CAST OF

"THIS IS US," AND SAY, "SEE?

WE DID IT, EVERYONE.

EVERYTHING IS FIXED NOW."

THE TRUTH IS, THE CIVIL RIGHTS

MOVEMENT WAS LONGER, MESSIER,

MORE RADICAL, AND, CRUCIALLY,

WAS THWARTED IN MORE OF ITS AIMS

THAN MANY OF US WERE TAUGHT IN

SCHOOL.

AND THAT BRINGS US TO THE FINAL

POINT, WHICH IS THAT WE DON'T

CONNECT THE DOTS TO THE PRESENT.

AND THOSE DOTS ARE VERY MUCH

THERE.

LOOK AT THE BLACK-WHITE WAGE AND

WEALTH GAPS.

THEY'RE BOTH LARGER NOW THAN

THEY WERE WHEN KING GAVE THAT

SPEECH.

AND OUR HOUSING AND EDUCATION

SYSTEMS, EVEN IN LIBERAL CITIES

LIKE NEW YORK AND L.A., ARE

STILL SHAMEFULLY SEGREGATED.

AND IF YOU DON'T TEACH HISTORY

PROPERLY, ALL YOU SEE IS THOSE

EFFECTS AND NOT THE CAUSES, WHEN

THE TRUTH IS, YOU CAN DRAW A

STRAIGHT LINE FROM THE

POST-CIVIL WAR RETURN OF

PLANTATION LAND TO ITS FORMER

CONFEDERATES THROUGH THE

MASSIVE TRANSFERS OF LAND

THROUGH THE HOMESTEAD ACT...

MOSTLY TO WHITE INDIVIDUALS...

THROUGH THE GROWTH OF THE

SUBURBS IN THE 20TH CENTURY,

WHERE RED-LINING KEPT BLACK

PEOPLE FROM MOVING INTO WHITE

NEIGHBORHOODS THROUGHOUT THE

COUNTRY.

IN FACT, JUST LISTEN TO THIS

WOMAN IN LEVITTOWN,

PENNSYLVANIA, EXPLAIN

HER OBJECTIONS TO A BLACK FAMILY

MOVING TO TOWN IN 1957 WITH SOME

REAL HONESTY.

WE LIKED THE ADVANTAGES THAT

LEVITTOWN SEEMED TO OFFER IN

COMPARISON TO OTHER CITIES.

AND WE UNDERSTOOD THAT IT WAS

GOING TO BE ALL WHITE AND WE

WERE VERY HAPPY TO BUY A HOME

HERE.

DO YOU THINK A NEGRO FAMILY

MOVING HERE WILL AFFECT THE

COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE?

DEFINITELY.

THE WHOLE TROUBLE WITH THIS

INTEGRATION BUSINESS IS THAT, IN

THE END, IT PROBABLY WILL END UP

WITH... WITH MIXING SOCIALLY.

AND YOU WILL HAVE... WELL, I

THINK THEIR AIM IS MIXED

MARRIAGES AND BECOMING EQUAL

WITH THE WHITES.

WOW.

IT IS ALWAYS WEIRD TO HEAR

SOMEONE... WHETHER OR NOT THEY

LOOK LIKE SUMMER CASUAL

BETTY CROCKER... FRAME

"HUMAN BEINGS BEING TREATED

EQUALLY" AS A NEGATIVE.

IT'S LIKE HEARING SOMEONE SAY

"THE WHOLE TROUBLE WITH PUTTING

GRAHAM CRACKERS, CHOCOLATE BARS,

AND MARSHMALLOWS TOGETHER IS

THAT WE MIGHT END UP WITH

S'MORES."

YEAH, EXACTLY.

THAT'S A GOOD THING.

ONLY A FUCKING MONSTER WOULDN'T

WANT THAT.

AND IT MIGHT NOT SURPRISE YOU TO

SEE THAT SOMEONE WAS INCREDIBLY

RACIST IN THE 1950s.

BUT ONE OF THE PROBLEMS WITH THE

WAY WE TEACH HISTORY IS THAT,

TOO OFTEN, IT SORT OF TRAILS OFF

AFTER THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT.

AND WHEN YOU SKIP OVER THE PAST

HALF-CENTURY OF HISTORY, YOU

DON'T GET TO SEE THE PROCESS BY

WHICH WHITE SUPREMACY, INSTEAD

OF DISAPPEARING, MERELY ADAPTED.

AND PERHAPS NOBODY MADE THAT

PROCESS CLEARER THAN

LEE ATWATER, A TOP

REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST

WHO WORKED FOR, AMONG OTHERS,

RONALD REAGAN AND

GEORGE H.W. BUSH.

HERE HE IS SPELLING OUT THE

WHOLE GAME IN 1981... AND I'M

GOING TO WARN YOU, YOU'RE ABOUT

TO HEAR THE N-WORD A LOT.

YOU START OUT IN 1954 BY

SAYING, "NIGGER, NIGGER,

NIGGER."

BY 1968, YOU CAN'T SAY

"NIGGER"... THAT HURTS YOU,

BACKFIRES.

SO YOU SAY STUFF LIKE, UH,

"FORCED BUSING," "STATES'

RIGHTS," AND ALL THAT STUFF, AND

YOU'RE GETTING SO ABSTRACT.

NOW YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT CUTTING

TAXES, AND ALL THESE THINGS

YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT ARE TOTALLY

ECONOMIC THINGS, AND A BYPRODUCT

OF THEM IS, BLACKS GET HURT

WORSE THAN WHITES.

"WE WANT TO CUT THIS" IS MUCH

MORE ABSTRACT THAN EVEN THE

BUSING THING, UH, AND A HELL OF

A LOT MORE ABSTRACT THAN

"NIGGER, NIGGER."

HOLY SHIT.

OBVIOUSLY, HE'S A LITTLE TOO

COMFORTABLE WITH THAT WORD.

YOU TEND TO ONLY HEAR IT COME

OUT THAT SMOOTHLY IN EITHER

TARANTINO MOVIES OR ONLINE

FORUMS IN WHICH WHITE CHILDREN

PLAY VIDEO GAMES TOGETHER.

BUT THAT IS ACTUALLY A PRETTY

CONCISE HISTORY OF A CERTAIN

THREAD IN POLITICS FOR THE PAST

HALF-CENTURY, WHICH BRINGS US

ALL THE WAY UP TO THE PRESENT

DAY... LITERALLY, THE PRESENT

WEDNESDAY, WHICH IS WHEN THE

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,

IN ANNOUNCING A ROLLBACK OF

AN OBAMA-ERA RULE UNDER THE

FAIR HOUSING ACT, SENT A TWEET

IN WHICH HE INFORMED ALL OF THE

PEOPLE LIVING THEIR SUBURBAN

LIFESTYLE DREAM THAT THEY WILL

NO LONGER BE BOTHERED OR

FINANCIALLY HURT BY HAVING

LOW-INCOME HOUSING BUILT IN

THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS.

AND THAT IS BASICALLY A CAMPAIGN

PROMISE CRAFTED BY LEE ATWATER

AND DESIGNED TO WIN OVER THIS

WOMAN WHO'S PROBABLY DEAD NOW.

AND WHAT'S NOTABLE THERE IS NOT

THAT TRUMP'S BEING RACIST...

WHICH IS NOT REMOTELY

SURPRISING.

IT'S HOW NEATLY HE FITS INTO A

SYSTEMIC RACISM THAT'S BEEN

BAKED INTO THIS COUNTRY FROM THE

BEGINNING AND WHICH WILL STILL

BE HERE WHEN HE IS GONE.

AND IF KIDS AREN'T TAUGHT THIS,

WHAT CHANCE DO THEY HAVE TO

UNDERSTAND WHAT'S HAPPENING

RIGHT NOW?

AND OBVIOUSLY, YOU'D NEED TO

CALIBRATE THIS TO EACH AGE

GROUP.

NO ONE IS SUGGESTING PLAYING

THAT LEE ATWATER TAPE TO

THIRD-GRADERS.

YOU

DON'T SKIP STRAIGHT AHEAD TO

EJACULATION... WHICH, BY THE

WAY, IS A PRETTY GOOD SEX TIP

FOR ANYONE WITH A PENIS... BUT

WE ALSO DON'T SPEND THE FIRST

SEMESTER OF SEX ED TEACHING KIDS

THAT WE WERE ALL DROPPED OUT OF

THE SKY BY FUCKING STORKS,

BECAUSE THEY'LL LATER HAVE TO

UN-LEARN THAT.

AND I KNOW THAT ADDRESSING

MISTAKES LIKE THESE WON'T BE

EASY.

THERE'LL BE BAD-FAITH CHARGES

THAT DOING SO IS POLITICAL...

ALTHOUGH, I'D ARGUE, NO MORE

POLITICAL THAN THE CHOICES WE'VE

MADE TO TEACH HISTORY THE WAY WE

DO NOW.

AND NO DOUBT SOME PARENTS

WILL INSTINCTIVELY RESIST THIS.

BACK IN 2010, WHEN TEXAS WAS

REVIEWING ITS STATE STANDARDS,

ONE PARENT MADE IT VERY CLEAR

THAT THE MAIN HISTORY HE WANTED

HIS KIDS TAUGHT WAS THAT OF

"AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM."

THE ONE THING I WANT MY KIDS

TO KNOW WHEN... WHEN THEY

GET OUT OF SCHOOL ABOUT AMERICA

IS THAT THE WORST DAY IN AMERICA

BEATS THE BEST DAY IN ANY OTHER

COUNTRY.

THAT FEELS...

THAT FEELS PRETTY EASY.

IT SEEMS LIKE THERE BECOMES THIS

GREAT FOCUS ON THE NEGATIVE

HISTORY OF AMERICA INSTEAD OF

SAYING... OH, TAKE, FOR

INSTANCE, SLAVERY... INSTEAD OF,

YOU KNOW, LOOKING AT IT IN A

POSITIVE LIGHT THAT AMERICANS

OVERCAME SOMETHING AS EVIL AS

SLAVERY AND THAT WE'RE STILL A

GREAT NATION TODAY SHOULD BE A

TESTAMENT TO THE KIND OF

AMERICAN SPIRIT THAT EXISTS IN

THIS COUNTRY.

OKAY, SO THERE'S A LOT

TO UNPACK THERE.

FIRST, YOUR WORST DAY IN AMERICA

REALLY DEPENDS ON WHO YOU ARE,

AND, IMPORTANTLY, WHEN YOU ARE.

THERE'S A REASON, FOR INSTANCE,

MARTY McFLY WAS WHITE.

BECAUSE BLACK PEOPLE DON'T

GENERALLY HANG AROUND WITH

JOHN C. CALHOUN LOOKALIKES WHO

ARE OBSESSED WITH GOING BACK TO

THE 1950s.

AND SECOND, "AMERICANS" DID NOT

OVERCOME SLAVERY.

"CERTAIN" AMERICANS OVERCAME

CERTAIN "OTHER" AMERICANS, AND

SLAVERY WAS "ENDED," BUT WHETHER

IT WAS "OVERCOME" IS VERY MUCH

ANOTHER MATTER.

AND, LOOK, WHILE I UNDERSTAND

ANY PARENT WANTING HIS KIDS TO

BE TAUGHT SOMETHING INSPIRING,

WHAT HE'S ESSENTIALLY ASKING FOR

THERE IS FOR HIS KIDS TO BE

MISINFORMED.

AND THAT'S NOT GOING TO SERVE

THEM WELL WHEN THEY GROW UP.

IT'S NOT GOING TO SERVE ANY OF

US WELL.

BECAUSE IGNORING THE HISTORY YOU

DON'T LIKE IS NOT A VICTIMLESS

ACT.

AND A HISTORY OF AMERICA THAT

IGNORES WHITE SUPREMACY IS A

WHITE SUPREMACIST'S HISTORY OF

AMERICA, WHICH MATTERS, BECAUSE,

WHILE IT MIGHT SEEM OBVIOUS,

HISTORY ISN'T OVER... IT'S STILL

BEING WRITTEN.

AND YOU KNOW WHO UNDERSTOOD

THAT?

JOHN LEWIS.

HE IS SOMEONE WHO'S VERY MUCH

PART OF AMERICAN HISTORY, AND HE

KNEW THE IMPORTANCE OF DRAWING A

LINE FROM THE PAST THROUGH THE

PRESENT.

THAT MAY BE WHY ONE OF THE LAST

THINGS HE DID BEFORE HE DIED WAS

VISIT BLACK LIVES MATTER PLAZA

IN WASHINGTON.

HE EVEN WROTE AN OP-ED TO BE

PUBLISHED POSTHUMOUSLY, WHICH

SPEAKS DIRECTLY TO WHAT WE'VE

BEEN TALKING ABOUT.

JUST LISTEN TO THIS EXTRACT,

READ BY MORGAN FREEMAN:

YOU MUST ALSO STUDY AND LEARN

THE LESSONS OF HISTORY BECAUSE

HUMANITY HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN

THIS SOUL-WRENCHING, EXISTENTIAL

STRUGGLE FOR A VERY LONG TIME.

PEOPLE ON EVERY CONTINENT HAVE

STOOD IN YOUR SHOES, THROUGH

DECADES AND CENTURIES BEFORE

YOU.

THE TRUTH DOES NOT CHANGE, AND

THAT IS WHY THE ANSWERS WORKED

OUT LONG AGO CAN HELP YOU FIND

SOLUTIONS TO THE CHALLENGES OF

OUR TIME.

EXACTLY.

HISTORY, WHEN TAUGHT WELL, SHOWS

US HOW TO IMPROVE THE WORLD.

BUT HISTORY, WHEN TAUGHT POORLY,

FALSELY CLAIMS THERE'S NOTHING

TO IMPROVE.

SO WE HAVE TO TEACH IT BETTER

AND CONTINUE TO LEARN IT,

BECAUSE IT'S IMPORTANT FOR ALL

OF US TO LISTEN TO THE VOICES OF

HISTORY, WHETHER THEY ARE A CALL

TO ACTION, TRULY HORRIFIC, OR A

SAD MUMMY ORGASM.

EH.

STILL EXCELLENT.

THAT'S OUR SHOW.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WATCHING.

WE'RE OFF NEXT WEEK, BACK

AUGUST 16TH.

HI, STEVE GUTTENBERG AGAIN.

WANT TO GIVE YOU A FEW THINGS

YOU MIGHT WANT TO GOOGLE TO FILL

IN THOSE GAPS.

CLAUDETTE COLEMAN, SHE'S

AMAZING.

THERE'S A WHOLE HISTORY THERE.

JAMES BALDWIN.

THERE'S A GREAT DOCUMENTARY.

THE RED SUMMER OF 1919.

DAVID WALKER'S APPEAL.

THE BROWNSVILLE AFFAIR.

THE ATLANTA WASHER WOMEN STRIKE.

JUST GOOGLE THEM ALL.

THAT WILL BE 150 BOOKS.