tv C-SPAN Cities Tour visits Indianapolis CSPAN December 21, 2019 11:59am-12:42pm EST
>> in that program, watching that on booktv.org. >> i read a bunch of his books. really interesting because a lot of that is the spy craft stuff so you are around some of that. the senate things i dealt with have to do with that so it is interesting to see different agencies involved in this and that. >> how do you select the books you read? >> i read in a couple different ways. i like to be entertained and that is what the bread for tight books coming and so many others and i like to read history, not necessarily historical fiction, just the opposite but i like for it to read like fiction, very easy
and candace mueller hard has several books like that about roosevelt, his trip to the amazon and another book about garfield, those are great books but also very entertaining. >> we want to hear what you are reading. send your list via social media,@booktv. >> the c-span city store is exploring the american story as we take a booktv and american history tv on the road with support from our spectrum cable partners this weekend we travel to indianapolis is coming up in the next hour learn about the city's literary history and speak with local authors including from robert f kennedy in the indiana primary. 15 minutes we visit the home of the hoosier poet james riley and following that in 20
minutes travel with us to the kurt vonnegut museum and library. we begin our special feature with robert f kennedy in indianapolis. >> could you lower those signs please? i have some very sad news for all of you. martin luther king was shot and killed tonight. martin luther king dedicated his life to love and justice between fellow human beings. >> you are actually standing at
the intersection of 17th st. and broadway, the spot where on april 4th robert kennedy gave his impromptu speech in forming the crowd of martin luther king's assassination. i was in a position on this side. if you look at the picture up there of robert kennedy, a collage that was the angle from which i was looking at and i was no more than 25 feet away so i was relatively close being here as early as i was and got a good spot, we did get here early, 24 years at the time. i had just got out of the navy the year before and indianapolis had changed somewhat.
this is a black neighborhood. i had spent four years in the navy and become a journeyman printer and came home and couldn't a job based on experience because it was 1968 and i was a young black man. i was here with a group of young people about my age. i wanted to see what he had to say. kennedy was in indiana to into the presidential primary. a month before on march 16th kennedy in washington dc announced he would be trying to win the nomination for the democratic presidential race. it was a crowded field at that time. president lyndon johnson was in the race and another senator from minnesota, eugene
mccarthy, had thrown his hat into the ring for the nomination and the indiana primary was the first opportunity to get his message and campaign to voters. even though it was a longshot indiana which is a more conservative state even among democrats didn't seem like the right state for kennedy to start his campaign and it was a gamble but my whole campaign is a gamble. give it a try in indiana. >> following his speeches in south bend at the university of notre dame on april 4th and subsequent talk kennedy was according to his schedule supposed to fly to indianapolis a winter cook airport as it was then known and go downtown indianapolis to campaign headquarters. he was supposed to come to the broadway christian center at 17
and broadway street in an african american neighborhood, give a standard campaign speech, talk about what he was going to do and registering people to vote because they need every vote they could when the primary came around. on the way to indianapolis at the muncie airport a couple reports that kennedy heard the news that king had been shot, not the news that he had died, just that he had been shot. when he arrived in indianapolis at the airport kennedy finally learned king had died. there was a lot of confusion with the kennedy campaign should do. should they cancel the speech? should they go ahead with it? they knew they would cancel their appearance at the headquarters but didn't know what to do and there were
people at kennedy airport, if you don't there might be some trouble. a lot of major american cities had violence occurring. people heard the news about king's death. and could speak to people directly and give them bad news and be counted upon to do the right thing so it was decided that kennedy would come to 17th and broadway street to address the crowd that had gathered there. kennedy had no prepared text from his campaign speech writers. a key campaign aide, there was -- we are not going to stay here in that car, kennedy didn't know and didn't have any
advice to give him. this street we are standing on, 17th st. actually did not end the way it is now before so it continued all the way. the sidewalk would be just about where you are standing and the flatbed truck is maybe 10 feet, 20 feet beyond the sidewalk. except for the fact that you could hear him say do they know about martin luther king? the answer was no so that was the first thing i could say.
>> could you lower those signs please? i have some very sad news for all of you and that is martin luther king was shot and killed tonight. >> when i was here and listened to his speech, the pendulum of my emotions, i could see it swinging in a matter of minutes, the speech lasted no more than 6 or 7 minutes but it went from when he first made the announcement, one of anger and revenge, the sound of collective moments, it could not only be heard but felt.
>> those of you are black or attempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act against all white people i can only say i also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. i had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man but we have to make an effort in the united states to understand, to get beyond or go beyond these difficult times. >> the speech didn't last 6 minutes but i could feel my emotions move from anger and revenge to remorse, feeling 5
for the country, and by the time we got to the end of the speech the words he spoke brought me to another level of understanding. >> after his talk here kennedy went back to the hotel, he was scheduled to meet with a group of african-american leaders after his speech, a highly charged atmosphere as you can imagine with king's death but he smooth things over and made sure they knew they had a friend with him, and if they had any questions or problems he was going to be in indiana. there was an upset, lost a beloved leader, they were upset about that and robert kennedy, took out a lot of anger on him because he was there at the time. kennedy took it with good grace, he did point out he
didn't have to be there. he was wealthy. he was an established person, could have stayed home at his estate, talking to them late in the evening and listening to their concerns. robert kennedy wins the indiana primary, very happy the way he was treated by indiana voters, they gave him a chance, listened to what he had to say and resonated with his message. from there, kennedy went on to win primaries in nebraska. and to western primaries, mccarthy actually defeats kennedy the oregon primary, and it came down to the california primary.
and a narrow victory in early june. the evening after he wins the california primary in los angeles, kicks a shortcut through the kitchen and is shot and assassinated and dies a few hours later. i think shows you the part that chance plays in history sometimes, to bring kennedy to indianapolis on april 4th to make those remarks to broadway christian center following martin luther king jr.'s death. words have power. if words spoken sincerely with meaning, people did it.
as impromptu as it might have been, we, together so well, like a needle, it pierced the hearts and minds, speaking personally the soul to make me think deeper about what this was so that it is easy to see the change of my emotions, the first of anger and revenge, moved to remorse to come to the other standing -- understanding. doctor king realized the message he was bringing was one that called for sacrifice. the ultimate sacrifice. he understood that but he also understood that it had to be done. >> dedicate ourselves what the greeks wrote so many years ago. to tame this evidence of man and make gentle the life of
this world, dedicate ourselves to that and say a prayer for our country and for our people. thank you very much. >> known as the hoosier poet, james riley is known for little orphan annie. of next we learn about indianapolis and the home where he spent the last 23 years of his life. >> james malcolm riley was one of the most famous authors to come out of indiana until kurt vonnegut. he was known as the hoosier poet because he wrote so much about indiana and indiana's people and i describe him as helping to define the rest of the country what a hoosier was.
it was still considered the west, indiana was a frontier state. he helped introduce indiana to the rest of the country and indiana loved him for that. 's most famous poems were probably the little orphan annie which was the inspiration for a lot of other popular works like raggedy ann and andy, orphan annie, the comic strip and musical and that was one of the most well-known poems in the country at that point. little orphan annie came to our house to stay and brush the crumbs away, throw the chickens off the porch and make the fire and make the bread and her board and keep. when this is that we sit around the kitchen fire and had the most fun, listening to the witches tales that andy tells up out in the goblins will get you if you don't watch out. when he became famous for writing what he called the hoosier dialect which was
imitation of the vernacular of the people he grew up with in greenfield, indiana, farmers and merchants and people like that and that is what people want to see. they read his poetry, they get published all around the country and then really well-known after he joined the lecture circuit which is when a poet or other or humorist will go out and read their works in front of an audience. that is where he got his start, this is his home audience and it is almost like hearing an imitator do an accident and he wasn't the only one who wrote like that. the prayer rabbit stories, also wrote a southern dialect, mark twain is the most famous southern dialect writer we hear a lot about because huck finn and tom sawyer, he considered himself a dialect writer as well. he put that in all those stories and because of that
mark twain became a good friend and they performed together in new york city 8 a few times and he sold out 5 or 600 theaters. at the peak of his speaking career he was bringing in the modern improvement of $25,000 for one of his performances so one of the best-known authors and entertainers in the entire country. this home is located in the heart of likely square in 1872. james malcolm riley never owned a home. it was built by john come for his family and they lived here, in 1890, at the peak of his career and became part of their extended family so three years after they met they invited him to live in the home with him, he was touring so much he was living in a permanent hotel
room in indianapolis. this is the parlor, the victorian living room and they do the entertaining and you will see a lot of musical instruments. riley was a multitalented individual, not only could write and perform poetry but also music. that is his violin on the chair as well. the most important people in indianapolis here including authors like meredith nicholson, booth tarkington, benjamin harrison, one time president of the united states and the biggest business men like eli lilly and william fortune. anybody who is anybody would want to meet mister riley and
he was so famous you could see postcards produced at that time with a home in the background as the home of james malcolm riley. this is james malcolm riley's bedroom, he moved here in 1893 and when he moved in he was a well-established poet, brought a lot of his own furniture with him so some of the pieces are older than the homes themselves. this is his original writing desk where he composed 1000 works of poetry. he liked to write in bed. they would find him sitting in bed surrounded by little scraps of paper where he was writing deep into the early morning hours. that is his original top hat and cane and near the fireplace is a portrait he commissioned one of his best friends, he love that little dog so much he had a painting commissioned over the mantle in this room.
james malcolm riley became one of the most popular authors and entertainers in the country and through his touring and lectures by selling his poetry anthologies made $3 million during his lifetime and modern equivalent to 60-$70 million so he was exceptionally wealthy which makes it interesting that he decided to stay in this one room in lockerbie and the reason is twofold. the first is he loved his family that built the home and invited him to live here and was very close to them and the second reason is he loved this neighborhood. back before meeting the family he wrote a poem called lockerbie street about how much he liked to leave his office where he was working in downtown indianapolis and a walk-through lockerbie square and the poem became so popular
and well loved by the people who lived in this neighborhood that when it was published they came to the office and found this covered in flowers and from the people of lockerbie square. and little street to the north of the city in the heat of the day, with whispering trees with leaves about to shake and with the breeze which in all its wide wanderings may never meet, never any place where the lockerbie street. when they invited him to live here in 1893 not only is he excited to live with his close friend, he is excited to live in this neighborhood that he loved and that is why he stayed, could have easily afforded to build a mansion of his own in indianapolis. james malcolm riley is one of the most important authors to come out of indiana and to a certain extent in modern times that has been forgotten but what we are trying to do at the
james malcolm riley museum home is expand on what he did to put indiana on the map. indian was everything to james malcolm riley. he made the decision not to move out of the east coast where powerhouses or publishers were because he felt so strongly connected indianapolis and indiana, the heart of his poetry in his writing and he is due for a renaissance and his recognition as people started to appreciate him a lot more for what he did for the city of indianapolis and the state of indiana. >> join us the first and third weekend of every month as we take booktv in american history tv on the road. to watch videos for many of the cities we visit go to c-span.org/citiestour and follow us on twitter, c-span cities. the season city store over soaring the american story. >> known for his novel slaughterhouse 5 kurt vonnegut
was born in indianapolis. of next we learn about his writing career and the influence the city had on his writing. >> all my jokes are indianapolis. my attitude there indianapolis. my adenoids are indianapolis was what people like about me is indianapolis. we think about great american writers, quit vonnegut is one of those. he is a great american writer that is being recognized and will continue to be recognized for years to come. now we are on the first floor of our new building on indiana avenue in downtown indianapolis, the purpose of the kurt vonnegut museum and library is not just to celebrate the life of kurt vonnegut. we do that in a big way with a night of vonnegut and other things we do through the year
to educate people on kurt vonnegut's life and to display his artifacts and give that type of experience to our visitors but we think what matters most is doing programs where there is not only a cultural and educational experience but a place to go, a community gathering place, we are representing not just kurt vonnegut but other writers, poets, musicians and artists whose work has been censored in our country and telling those stories. indianapolis meant so much to kurt vonnegut. he was born here in 1922. indianapolis was a bustling city in 1922. his parents were pretty wealthy from wealthy families so they
knew a lot of the notable artists and writers, james malcolm riley was a world-famous poet at the time. he is considered a postmodern writer but what is different about vonnegut that may not have been done at the time, he would sometimes stop a story and interject his own opinions about something and go on with the story and stop again and say what he thought about that. some people don't like that but other people loved it and they think this writer is talking to me, having a conversation with me. he was best known as the author of the book slaughterhouse 5,
based on his war experience as a prisoner of war held by the nazis during world war ii but went on to write many other novels, essays when slaughterhouse 5 came out in 1969. it was immediately embraced by the anti-vietnam war crowd. monaghan appreciated that but also told such an honest story about the war experience that there were people who didn't like it because it was so honest. those individuals were frustrated there wasn't more of a nationalistic approach to war writing but he thought it was important to be honest about the war experience. after slaughterhouse 5 came out, that year-end years beyond, even up to present day slaughterhouse 5 is being banned somewhere in the country
and vonnegut experienced that in the 70s when a school in north dakota banned the book not only from the school but went so far as to take copies of the book and put them in the school furnace. vonnegut wrote a response letter to this the talked about what that meant to do that and how he fought a war against fascism and that kind of oppression of people and thoughts and ideas and how damaging it is to do that even if you don't agree with what someone says we have to protect our first amendment right to be able to speak it. we want that dialogue, even though folks will disagree with something kurt vonnegut said, the dialogue is where we can think of each other as human and understand the background and why someone might have an opinion a certain way and we think kurt would love that.
>> we are in indianapolis where c-span is worrying about the city of literary scene. we speak with law professor jennifer juliano on her book indian spectacle, the anxiety of modern america. >> today mascot players serve as commercial figures, brands and universities and allows them to style what they are doing to potential fans and potential students. historically, mascots were not really that role. the first mascots were designed to be more like cheerleaders and they would lead cheers and help students with what is going on on the field and make things understandable to those in the audience. the transition happens for fans versus mascot there for brands in the early 20th century.
when colleges begin to expand they think about how they get alumni to donate. part of their method is to take on modern ways of advertising so they create mascots, they create team brands, university brands to make the transition but something people buy and be part of all the time every day versus their own campus. when we think about how did mascots become something interesting. mascots always started as people. they started primarily as bad boys and bat girls for professional sports. what changes is the early 20th century american culture begins to use race as a way to advertise. there are two cases that are famous. one is in illinois, a high school in illinois, northern illinois, how are mascot, a racist character of an asian american and they kept the
mascot even though they don't have it anymore there is a great message got a colleague writes about, clarence to fall, the epic and american mascot, chicago cubs and performed with a mascot in egypt. .. we start to see mascots make late 20s and 30s. part of what allows them to do that, americans are really invested in this. indians have been eradicated from the u.s. when they start creating mascots, a doing in a honoring and remembering of the past.
the problem is, is not white fantasy of what indian was. they thought they were honorable and they were close to nature. indians were not just one thing. natives were all different communities. in the 20s and 30s, they take on honoring people that were disappearing. that allowed them to feel better about the fact that they were taking away land from india all across the u.s. what we know is about these inventors, they are a stereotype. they are created to be generic. that's what makes it so problematic for people, they are generic. they don't really benefit people the way they should. that's where it comes from, when you ask football fan, what can you tell me about them here in
indiana? most of them can't tell you anything. is to educate and celebrate, what does that mean achieving those goals? today it's a little bit different. there's a lot of people who recognize there's a difference between the character of india and contemporary native people. i think that's what my work and activists are trying to show that if you truly understand native people, they are very clear this is not honoring them and not representing them in a way they think is positive. i think that's the conflict between what native history is or should look like an actual native people today. they don't put the two together in a way that makes sense to them. they think it is totally fine that you have a character of indians performing on in illinois and or stanford university. pretending to be their own type of india that are not.
that's where the conflict is for us. what we know historically and can temporarily don't have anything to do with native people today. that's where i think we want to fix the record and talk about life that is why we erased native people today from what's going on. they pushed back, the headquarters here in indianapolis, the mca a few years ago created a set of rules about whether you could have musketry or not. they created an exception and set if a tribe comes forward and says it supports them, you get to keep it. the only problem is, just because one tribe says it's okay, doesn't know mean another community and another tribe thinks it's okay. just to do away with indian, they are just creating positive views.
at the professional level, the rule is, whatever the law says works but what's interesting, they are concerned about things like the brand hurting the larger nfl franchise. it's going to be from the team owners, not from activists pressuring them. we are not going to allow this because we feel like they are wrong. how we talk about each other, actual individual people really matters. what may be minor to you but to somebody else is really an offense.
>> we speak with this professor, sheila can be on her book, talking politics, what you need to know before opening your mouth. >> i realize people say you should never talk about politics and religion. i think more discussion would be a very good thing for the country right now. that discussion has to be grounded in reality. if you say this is a desk and i say it's a chair, we can't talk about how to use it. if you want to disagree about something, you need to know what that something is. one of the reasons i wrote this book is, in order to give people a foundation on which to disagree, i think a lot of the rather toxic disagreements we have in this country are a direct outgroup, not just a
partisanship but the fragmented nature of the media environment we live in. when you have media outlets that engage, and on both sides of the political spectrum, engage in what is really propaganda, it's one thing to be on behalf of your side of an issue or problem but we have gone to the point where we don't even see or occupy the same reality. i teach in media and public policy and law and i taught my students, if you really believe aliens landed, i can find you five internet sites that have pictures of the aliens bodies. we are so good technologically at creating the realities we
believe in or want to believe in that very difficult for people to make a determination about what is real and what is credible and what's not. if you do not have what i call civic literacy, if you don't really understand what our system is intended in the way our system is intended to operate, and you don't have the tools you need to determine what's real and what isn't. we have terrible civic ignorance in this country. the last time there is a national survey taken by the way credible source, 6% know you have three branches of government. i always wonder whether people who don't understand that and who don't understand federalism
which is the division of jurisdiction between local, state and federal governments, where do they take their problems? to the congressman? you need to begin with a foundation of american history and american government so when some website says congressman x didn't do why, you know what they are not supposed to do so i'm not sure i trust that source. if you come at all of this without at least a foundation, you have no tools with which to determine the credibility of the source. >> i actually began a center at indiana university called a center for civic literacy. i started about eight years ago.
time flies. the interest for starting fat was in my undergraduate class online policy, i teach the constitutional lens. when we come to the notion of original intent, i usually ask my students, what you think about porn on the internet? the proper answer to that is to laugh because obviously james madison didn't think about porn on the internet. then we launch into a discussion about what he did think and say and what got into our constitution. i asked this young woman, junior in college, what you think james madison brought about porn on the internet? she looked at me and said, whose james madison? i went home and drank. but this book, it was part of
the work of the center for civic literacy. it's an effort to compile what every single citizen needs to know and understand about our government and our economy and the difference between science and religion. one of the things i am hopeful about is that we will win in civic education. if we know what our constitution says, if we know what our history actually was, i am confident we can come to a lot of different agreements and put this country back on a path at least toward amnesty. it's not. it's sort of huddling in our filter problems and only belie believe, go on to the internet and have confirmation bias tell
us where we are going. then the american experiment doesn't work. it's a collection of constituencies all trying to contend for power. we are not really american anymore. >> twice a month, c-span cities tours takes book to be an american history tv on the road to explore literary life. working with our cable partners, various literary and historic sites as we interview local historians and civic leaders. you can watch any of our past interviews and tours online by going to booktv.org. select c-span cities tour for the series top-down at the top of the page or visit c-span.or c-span.org/cities tour. you can also follow the c-span