NYT Best Seller Dr. Kate Clifford Larson on Fannie Lou Hamer & the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, a New York Times best-selling biographer of Harriet Tubman and Fannie Lou Hamer. Kate shares why she has written about these historical African-American figures, and how she thinks parents, teachers, and schools can draw on their lives to talk about race. She describes the deeply segregated Jim Crow landscape of Fannie Lou Hamer’s native Mississippi Delta, the challenges she faced, and the influence of Freedom Songs and spirituals like “This Little Light of Mine,” often performed at her rallies, on her tireless advocacy. They discuss Hamer’s courageous voter mobilization efforts during Freedom Summer and at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, both during the summer of 1964, and why it’s so important for Americans to know about this unsung heroine of the Civil Rights era. They also explore Hamer’s reception by President Lyndon Johnson and the often male-centric Civil Rights Movement.

Stories of the Week: Around the country, K-12 online learning is experiencing a decline in interest among families, especially in programs with less live instruction and interaction with teachers and peers. A report from the National Student Clearinghouse shows that just over 40 percent of 2- and 4-year college students across the U.S. during the 2020-21 academic year were men.

Guest:
Dr. Kate Clifford Larson is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author of three critically acclaimed biographies: Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero; Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter; and The Assassin’s Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln. After earning BA and MA degrees from Simmons University and an MBA from Northeastern University, Larson earned a doctorate in American History at the University of New Hampshire, specializing in 19th and 20th century U.S. Women’s and African-American history. She has consulted on feature film scripts—including Focus Features’ Harriet starring prize-winning Cynthia Erivo and Robert Redford’s The Conspirator—documentaries, museum exhibits, curriculum guides, public history initiatives, tour guides, and numerous publications. Dr. Larson has appeared on local, national and international television, including the BBC, PBS, and C-Span, cable networks, and CBS Sunday Morning. Dr. Larson’s latest biography, Walk With Me, explores the remarkable life of Civil Rights icon, Fannie Lou Hamer and is due out from Oxford University Press in September.

The next episode will air on Wednesday, September 15th with guest, Leon Kass, MD, the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago.

Tweet of the Week:

News Links:

Chalk beat: As virtual options split off from traditional school, interest dips

https://www.chalkbeat.org/2021/9/2/22654905/virtual-school-option-standalone-interest-dips

WSJ: A Generation of American Men Give Up on College: ‘I Just Feel Lost’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/college-university-fall-higher-education-men-women-enrollment-admissions-back-to-school-11630948233

Get new episodes of The Learning Curve in your inbox!

Cara Candal:

Here we are day after labor day. Gerard. We are back together again, my friend, how are you doing? You’ve been all. We were vacationing. You were vacationing. I was vacationing. We weren’t vacationing together. I did see you snapped a pic and sent along a beautiful landscape as you were. I don’t know. What were you doing? Like on a hammock or something? I

Gerard Robinson:

Was in a hammock letting my toes tan.

Cara Candal:

Hi, that’s important. Yes. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. How you toes feeling? They didn’t, you didn’t put on any sunblock on your toes?

Gerard Robinson:

No, no. I’m not a sunblock kind of guy. Although H his own, it was a good vacation. First one I’ve taken, I’d say in 17 years. And so really enjoyed it. Ate good vegan food all week. Ended up losing seven pounds during the process and feel really good and just had a chance to just exhale and think about all the wonderful people that we’ve interviewed, the fun that we’ve had on the show. And in fact, one of the gentlemen there, him and his wife just moved from Boston to Virginia. They listened to the podcast because I had mentioned that I had just finished doing a podcast. We talked about that.

Cara Candal:

Can you introduce me? Is that how that went? Sorry. I missed what you said. I said, did he say that Cara Candal? She’s amazing. Can you introduce,

Gerard Robinson:

I thought that’s what you said. I don’t know. I, I’m not sure, but we’ll see.

Cara Candal:

Are you going to like tweet your secret? Is it just the vegan food that causes you to lose them? Or do you have to eat less of the vegan food, then you would have non vegan food and exercise more like how’s that go?

Gerard Robinson:

Both people hiked, which I did not do, but I walked every day, lifted weights. I went to the gym for the first time in two years, because we had to give up our gym membership. So then a lot of things between just eating well, having fun and just being out so good medication, you

Cara Candal:

Can be together in person. We’re going to have a weightlifting contest. We will cause I can throw some iron around. I’m just going to say, okay. Yeah, no, but that’s fantastic. And Kimberly let you do this, huh? Yeah.

Gerard Robinson:

In fact, I was getting ready to say, I think her and the other ladies for letting me have a mutation and to all those who are listening, let your dad, husband significant other a partner, have a vacation. Trust me when me is happy. We are happy.

Cara Candal:

Well, I’m happy to be back with you drawing always miss our chats. I know that we’ve had some good co-hosts filling in. We’re very lucky and thankful to them and to our learning curve family. But here we are. After labor day start of a school year, my kids are back tomorrow in the middle of what is an increasingly, at least here, we’re having lots more COVID cases reported and I’m happy to hear it, that the schools are safely moving ahead and taking all of the precautions that they need to. And boy, I cannot wait to get those kids out the door tomorrow. Let me tell you, I might not stop the car. Gerard.

Cara Candal:

I usually ride the bike to school. We talked about this a couple shows ago, but I think that this there’s an article out of Chalkbeat today by Katelyn Bellshaw. And I think that it is it’s actually from September 2nd, I will correct myself, but I think it’s worth talking about, because this article is about virtual schooling and quite frankly, so the title of the article is as well, options split off from traditional school interest dips. But if you read the article again, choppy, I would like to, I think I’ve done this before. I would like to suggest a different title to you. I don’t know that what they present is really convincing me. That interest in virtual learning has dipped so much. So as it is that lots of places, just either aren’t providing virtual learning at all, or aren’t committed to doing it in a very thoughtful way.

Cara Candal:

The article describes that most people, most parents, most students, most teachers really do want to be back in school, really want to be, do doing face-to-face school. But there are still some families. I mean, there are parents of young children who aren’t yet vaccinated. Some of whom might be immunocompromised who would really prefer for kids to be home yet who don’t want to become official homeschoolers. For example, who would really prefer a virtual option? I would say maybe they would like an ESA, but that’s not going to happen. It happened in a lot of states this year, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s really compelling stuff. So we know that last year 44% of students ended the year online. So that’s from this article 44% of students really just barely made it into classrooms last year, if at all. And now only about 1% of the districts that participate in the survey are actually choosing this virtual academy.

Cara Candal:

So I should clarify, this is talking about San Diego, California. So there is an option here for a virtual academy, but folks aren’t choosing it. But the thing is with this article goes on to explain, is that in a lot of states and districts, not only are these virtual academies sort of not being touted, they’re being spun off from your district school. So you don’t get, for example, to say, I’m enrolled in my district, but I’m choosing a virtual option and you get to port into the classroom, but it’s going to be entirely separate. And in some cases you may no longer remain enrolled in your district. If you choose the virtual option. And in many places there are questions about what do these virtual offerings actually look like. Now we know that we’ve got some very high quality virtual schools in this country. And we know that we have some not very high quality virtual schools in this country, but this is fascinating to me because it’s reads as if school districts and states are proactively saying no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Cara Candal:

We’re not emphasizing. First of all, in fact, we don’t even want to think about virtual. And I think during the week that you were on your vacation, Derrell Bradford. And I talked about the fact that this is just an enormous missed opportunity, right? That we had all this time to do virtual, right? And here we are. And it makes me wonder, what are we going to do the next time? We’re in a situation which for a lot of kids could be sometime in the very conceivably near future. If we don’t really get good and get thoughtful about doing virtual education. So I’m just, I find this kind of disappointing. It’s like every time I hear on NPR that states are planning to use all of this money they got for tutoring. Like they’re not doing it now. I started to feel like, what are we doing, folks? I get it. That it’s been a tough couple of years and we’re trying to put one foot in front of the other, but I know we’ve got more brain power than this. So Gerard, maybe you disagree with that assessment of the posity of virtual options. I want to know your take.

Gerard Robinson:

No, we have virtual options and they’ve been around for quite some time. People forget, or maybe don’t know that children who are in the military or children who are preparing for the Olympics or children or families who are involved in activities that require them to be mobile, have used online learning in one fashion or another here in the state of Virginia, we have virtual Virginia and we’ve had that for quite some time. Last year we had roughly 7,700 students who participated in virtual Virginia. I would say that’s during the pandemic. Prior to that, the number was much smaller. And I expect the number to continue to grow. We have, it is just like with many things, lack of marketing from either companies or schools. But I know the pandemic frankly, has changed the conversation because I was recently in Georgia for a conference at goal scholarship, say tax credit program where I happened to be on the board.

Gerard Robinson:

And we were having our annual event, first one in person in a couple of years. And there were people there who have students who are in-person some who are virtual, but the number of them who talked about virtual options, them creating for themselves, a virtual option for families that have nothing to do with the pandemic. But the pandemic also put, brought to light that some families have always wanted their children to have different options either because of social stigmas because of bullying or other factors. Or as you mentioned, there’s simply some people because of health who can not return to school, but there’s some people who said, I just simply liked the fact that my child could be here at school, be in school at home. I’m not the teacher, cause I don’t want to, I don’t have the credentials or the skillset to be a home school teacher, but I just like having my child at home. So this is not going away anytime soon, you and I’ve talked about just the billions of dollars that have flowed into the coffers of public schools. We’ve got to hold those schools accountable for the money they have. Let’s say a year from now where we have another back to school conversation. Let’s just see where we are with virtual education. I just think it’s got a really, really move up, particularly with the black homeschoolers who liked the homeschool option, but also liked the virtual component if they can wear the two.

Cara Candal:

Yeah, just a really quick shout out to that because other reason reports highlighting that I think I recently read 14%, 14% of black families are choosing a high school I’m homeschool or maybe it was that the percentage of homeschoolers went up to 14% being black families. You’re seeing just huge numbers of folks deciding that for whatever reason, it’s going to be a better option for them and maybe not related to the pandemic, but at any rate, I know you’ve got another great story to talk about, but I will say pioneer, please kiss your brain because a year from now, I want to rewind to this and see if Gerard’s prediction about virtual education came true. So,

Gerard Robinson:

All right, we got a dollar bid on it. All right. My story is a, not a happy one and maybe virtual education. And the things that we discussed on this show may change it. So mine is from Douglas Belkin wall street journal, September 6th, 2021 title, a generation of American men give up on college quote. I just feel lost. When I talk to people about higher education, we spend a great deal focused on equity and often it’s racial equity or at times of it’s gender it’s primarily female people are shocked to know that nearly one in four people who are now enrolled in higher education are men, which means 60% of the people who are enrolled in college today are women. Now, when you put that into perspective, this has been a trend that’s been moving steadily ahead for over 40 years, but it’s really reached record numbers.

Gerard Robinson:

And not only do we have more women in college than men, but to women earn a college degree for every man, there’s already a million person gap between men and women in college. But also those who are graduating are graduating at a higher weight, happened to be women. So Cara take this. For example, after six years of college, 65% of women in the U S who started a four year program in 2012, received the diploma for men. It was 59% people say, well, if we’re talking about equity, why don’t boys come up in the conversation or a man in this situation? And it’s just not a problem at the four year institution is also the two year institution. Well, some of the people quoted in the study said that we think about higher ed. We don’t often think about giving men a boost up, partly because this is still a man’s world.

Gerard Robinson:

In many ways, men still have higher paying jobs often will be promoted faster than women will often find themselves in similar jobs, paid more money. And so there are really built in factors or biases that are in place for men. And someone said, well, then to further tip it for them would be a challenge when someone says, well, that’s one way of looking at it, but we also have to look at this from the aspect of what do we want our democracy to look like if we’re saying that equity in fact is important. Not that we’re saying we have to have the same number of men, but we at least have to acknowledge that we have a catastrophe on our hands. Not because as the paper says, not solely because men aren’t academically prepared. That’s a fact, but you have a number of men who are academically prepared, who simply say, I just don’t want to go to college.

Gerard Robinson:

And so one thing, one of the people in the article said is that maybe we should do a better job of looking at what women have done to be successful over men. Well guess what one thing is sending in your transcript to college, something as simple as that will be helpful in the article. It also noted that nearly 74% of all the vice presidents at the collegiate level in terms of student body are women. And a little bit more than 50% are also the presidents. So this is an equity issue that often gets very little play. It’s a brilliant article or personal stories. I choose not to name some of the people because I want the listeners to go to the article to read. But this is really important. What I will say is that we should put this in line with a conversation that what am I American enterprise Institute colleagues, Nicholas Eberstadt.

Gerard Robinson:

He wrote a book in 2016 called men without work. It’s a book about nearly 6 million men between the ages of 18 to 54, the working age population who don’t have a job. Not that they don’t have a job solely, they aren’t even looking for work. So when you couple that with fewer men in college and you couple that with the fact that one, the 75% of the people who are military age can not get into the military because of education because of a criminal record because of health or drugs. And you link these things together at a point in American history where let’s just say, what did they have some tough conversations about what the future will look like in terms of national security. This is a national security issue as it was when it was opposite for women. But because we’re talking about men, it doesn’t get a lot of attention. And this is definitely an article worth reading

Cara Candal:

Gerard fascinatingly enough this morning, I was reading this story for the learning curve. My husband texted it to me and said, you need to read this now. Because we have two boys

Kate Clifford Larson:

That never happened.

Cara Candal:

He never texted me stories that we would talk about on this show. He’s, you know, not in the field, he likes to talk about eyes because he’s an ophthalmologist. So that’s about the extent of it. But this one really caught his attention. Now, listening to you speak, you know, I was thinking a couple of things and thrips the snark in may says, wow, with all of these women in college, graduating college in high positions at colleges, are we getting closer to closing the male pay gap is one thing. But the former teacher in me, the mom and me, the mom of two boys and me, he says to your point, we have known this has been a problem for a long time. I think that a lot of books have been written about specifically lack of options for boys of color. But what we’re highlighting here is something much broader in terms of the societal implications with men of all stripes, choosing not to go into college, not seeing a path for them and what that means.

Cara Candal:

And I appreciate you bringing up the importance of work and what this might mean for work. Because as we know, and as I think as your colleague at AI has written about, so wonderfully work is really, really important, not for the economy, but for helping us define who we are in so many ways, no matter what profession you choose, it’s important for self esteem. It’s important for feeling of self-worth and all of these things. It’s sad in so many ways, a that this problem is occurring because there has to be some fault line in our education system and maybe in our, in our homes and communities that it’s causing this to happen. But also because to your other point, we’re really not talking about it and it’s not very invoke to talk about it. Parents should be reading up. That’s a good one, Gerard, and we thank you for bringing it to our attention. Okay? Now coming up right after this Gerard, we have yet another wonderful historian joining us today on the learning curve here at the day after labor day. And we are going to be speaking with Kate Clifford Larson. So we’ll be back in touch.

Cara Candal:

Learning Curve listeners. We are pleased to welcome Dr. Kate Clifford Larson. She is a New York times and wall street journal, best selling author of three critically acclaimed biographies bound for the promised land, Harriet Tubman portrait of an American hero, Rosemary, the hidden Kennedy daughter and the assassins accomplice, Mary Surratt, and the plot to kill Abraham Lincoln after earning BA and ma degrees from Simmons university right here in our backyard and an MBA from Northeastern university. Also right here in our backyard, Larson earned a doctorate in American history at the university of New Hampshire, specializing in 19th and 20th century, us women’s and African-American history. She has consulted on feature film scripts, including focus features Harriet starring prize, winning Cynthia Erivo and Robert Redford’s. The conspirator documentaries, museum exhibits, curriculum guides, public history, initiatives, tour guides, and numerous publications. She all has that under her belt. Dr. Larson has appeared on local national and international television, including personal favorites, the BBC PBS and C-SPAN cable networks and CBS Sunday morning, Dr. Larson’s latest biography walk with me, explores the remarkable life of civil rights, Fannie Lou Hamer, and his do out from Oxford university press in September. Dr. Larson would a great bio. And from, I don’t know if you grew up here in new England, but you certainly spent a lot of time here where at we here we are, Pioneer Institute. Very happy to have you on the show.

Kate Clifford Larson:

Well thank you for having me. It’s great to be here.

Cara Candal:

Yeah. So we have actually talked about Fannie Lou Hamer on this show before I believe with a children’s book author. And it’s just such a fascinating, important figure that I think far too many Americans don’t know about her, that you’ve written about several other really important African-American women, including Harriet Tubman. I noticed in your bio that you have helped to produce curriculum guides and obviously, you know, educational films and television is certainly part of your repertoire. Can you talk a little bit for our education minded listeners about how parents, teachers in schools should be drawing from the drawing lessons from the lives of these very important women?

Kate Clifford Larson:

Oh, that’s, there’s so much to say about these women, Harriet Tubman and Fannie Lou Hamer. I find to be very similar types of women and their stories, I think are a great way to introduce children and the general public into this complicated history we have in this country related to history with slavery. And then once the civil wars over the issues of centered around race for the past a hundred and fifty, a hundred and seventy five years with those two characters, Harriet Tubman, who was born in slavery, liberated herself, fought in the civil war and then the campaign for civil rights and women’s rights after that. And then of course, Fannie Lou Hamer, who grew up in the 20th century and was an incredible leader in the civil rights movement. By looking at these women, we often talk about the Martin Luther Kings of the world, but there were women, ordinary women who did extraordinary things who changed lives, who changed the course of this country and teaching their stories, I think helps everyday Americans see a bit of themselves in them, gamer and Tubman shared this profound sense of place and where they grew up and how they overcame the obstacles there and also their faith.

Kate Clifford Larson:

They relied on their faith and they, it fortified them to survive some of the darkest hours in this country, in their lives. Their lives are centered around family, faith, community, and pursuit of freedom in different centuries, but that’s a commonality. And I think those are issues that every American can identify with and take away something from learning about their lives.

Cara Candal:

If you could elaborate just a bit on how these women, the lives of these women, what we can teach younger children from their stories specifically in the context of talking about race.

Kate Clifford Larson:

It’s so bundled up in the same thing. I think for adults who are concerned about teaching children about the history of race in this country, if they understood the stories of Harriet Tubman and Fannie Lou Hamer, they might not have so many. These are not people of color, generally people of color want to talk about this issue, but for others, if they understood the lives that these women experienced, the brutal discrimination, the obstacles that they faced in trying to live decent lives as Americans, then I think people would be more open to the conversations. I think Fannie Lou Hamer and Tubman allow us to do that. They both were remarkably resilient, brilliant women who were denied opportunities. They were, I believe they were both geniuses, but because of the lack of access to good education, they didn’t rise to the top because like a Frederick Douglas or a Martin Luther king, and they made differences in their community just like people today who lack opportunities can make a difference, but we need to take dismantle those barriers. So when people talk about, I don’t want critical race theory taught to my children, it isn’t critical race theory. It’s critical that we have conversations about race and what our country has looked like in the past, what it looks like today and where we want to see it in the future as fulfilling the promise of the declaration of independence that all Americans are created equal.

Cara Candal:

I think that provides our listeners with some really great points to think about. You mentioned the great challenges that these historical figures face and how we can really teach children by talking to them very specifically about some of these challenges. Could you talk a little bit more about the specific challenges that Fannie Lou Hamer, not just as a woman and a woman of color that faced and why is she such an unsung hero? Why is it that we haven’t heard more about her until quite recently, in my opinion,

Kate Clifford Larson:

There’s a certain generation of Americans that remember her because she was very prominent during the 1960s, but she faded fairly quickly. And she was still an important figure in Mississippi and made a huge difference in the lives of people in her community. But her life was hamstrung by the fact that she only had a sixth grade education and they were institutions. There were organizations that were trying to move civil rights forward in this country, but they were led by predominantly men and well-educated men. And they in, in all truthfulness, they discriminated against her because she was a woman. But also because she lacked a much of a formal education and they were embarrassed by her diction sometimes. And the clothes that she wore because she was very, very poor and she couldn’t afford, you know, lots of different dresses and lots of beautiful clothing. She was a Mississippi sharecropper.

Kate Clifford Larson:

That was her life. And that’s who she represented to most Americans. Most Americans could identify with her because she didn’t have much money. She didn’t have a college education, but she was able to bring a message to Americans that resonated across the country, not just in Mississippi, not just in the south, not just in the black communities, but she experienced great class discrimination and discrimination because she was not well-educated. And you know that, that doesn’t go away for many people, even today. I’m sure your audience, there are members that feel that in their own lives sometimes, but that’s what happened to her

Gerard Robinson:

Hammer. Yeah. We often don’t talk about the brutality that she experienced in jails and other rooms. We talk about her politics, but we often miss and miss that. So here’s one thing I want to share and then would love to get your response. And this is a quote from her. It wasn’t too long ago, before three white men came into my cell. One of these men was a state highway patrolman Haimer testified before the democratic national conventions credentials committee about being beaten brutally in a jail for registering blacks in Mississippi. He said, quote, we’re going to make you wish you were dead. A few people know about what she had to do to make the freedom summer of 64, real. And we, many of us know about, you know, the all Mississippi delegation, but some people don’t put those two things together. Tell us more about that

Kate Clifford Larson:

To back up before the freedom summer of 1964, the summer before that she was taking classes and trying to teach people how to take the difficult voter registration literacy tests in Mississippi, she was arrested by the authorities and Winona, Mississippi, and put in jail with other young activists. And she was brutally beaten and sexually assaulted by these officers. And when she came out of that jail, she was bailed out. I don’t know how she survived the beating, but she did. She actually was released from jail the day, the morning, the afternoon after Medgar Evers had been assassinated nearby in Mississippi. So she carried that with her. She was so angry. She realized they might kill me, but I am going to do everything I can in order to make a difference. And if they die trying than I do, but I’m not going to be stopped by these, these people who are doing this to me.

Kate Clifford Larson:

So she goes to Atlantic city in 1964 in the summer called the freedom summer where Mississippians and civil rights organizations have come together to try to register as many black Mississippians as possible, but they are not allowed to vote. And the delegation that goes to Atlantic city for the convention to nominate Lyndon Johnson for the presidency, that’s an all white delegation. Blacks really could not vote in Mississippi. So she goes there with a group of Mississippians to challenge the all white delegation. And she has to make a speech, a plea in front of the credentials committee. Who’s going to decide whether the white Mississippi delegation is going to recede or the diverse delegation headed by Haimer and others will be seated in the convention hall. And she makes this eight minute plea and the national TV stations pick it up. And even though president Johnson interrupted her speech during the day, it was broadcast live because he was afraid because he didn’t want to take off the white Mississippi delegation.

Kate Clifford Larson:

The news thought her speech was so compelling and so powerful. They played it that night on national TV. So Americans across the country saw her and she moved people. She changed, she changed people. She changed the country. She did not get what she wanted. They were not seated in place of the all white Mississippi delegation, but there was a promise made by the democratic party that the next convention in 1968, all of the delegations where every state had to be diverse. And she won that. So that in 1968, she could stand on the stage proudly as a member of the Mississippi delegation.

Gerard Robinson:

One phrase that many of us know her or attribute to her is I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. And you just mentioned LBJ and the role he had to play because he had a balance of very nuance aspects of race, but also gender. Could you talk more about LBJ and how he played into this debate about her as well as the male centric?

Kate Clifford Larson:

So LBJ, he was a very complicated person. He had been in the presidency less than a, less than a year when the convention occurred. President Kennedy had been assassinated earlier November the year before. And so he was trying to hold together this democratic coalition and it included these Southern democratic states. At the time, they were very, very racist, democratic party states and they were struggling. They weren’t sure they wanted to vote for Johnson because he wanted to pass civil rights legislation. The voting rights act of 1964 and the voting rights act that would come later in 1965. And those Southern states and their delegations did not want those voting rights laws to pass. So he was worried that they would deflect from the party and he would lose the election. And as it turns out, all of those, many of those Southern Democrats left the convention, all the whole Mississippi delegation left, and they ended up campaigning for Republican Barry Goldwater who was anti civil rights.

Kate Clifford Larson:

And they threatened the next convention in 1968 that they would vote for George Wallace. Instead, they were not going to tow the line with the rest of the democratic party. And that’s when the complete in the south occurred. And it became a Republican south rather than democratic. So Johnson tried to keep the democratic coalition together. So he was walking a tight rope. And although he believed in what Hamer wanted, he was a politician. And he knew that he had to do things that were painful and it hurt Hamer. It was hard for her to recover. She felt betrayed.

Gerard Robinson:

We know that songs in the civil rights movement were pretty important for a host of reasons is like this little light of mine is something that people saying in her rallies. If you talk about why songs, faith, spiritual life, and her life plays such an important role in her as a person and for her also as a leader, she became,

Kate Clifford Larson:

So she grew up in a very strict Baptist household. Her father was a part-time Baptist minister. So her life was infused with religion every day and reading the Bible and understanding the passages and the messages and trusting in God that things would work out. And so it was just part of the fabric of her life. You can’t separate Fannie Lou Hamer from her face. As she grew older, though, she questioned, she questioned her faith. She questioned God, why aren’t you letting these things happen? Why is it so terrible for us to live here? Why can’t you help us make a change? So she was constantly feeling tested and the brutality against her, all these things that happened to her protested, her faith, but it also fortified her. Once she worked through her anger, it fortified her and singing. She had an amazing voice and she had been singing since she was a tiny child.

Kate Clifford Larson:

People love to hear her sing. And as an adult, it was a way that calmed her. It soothed her and it empowered her. So once she got on the stages across the country, and she grew up in the Delta where the Delta blues music was born and infused, it was in the soil, it was in the air there, and it infused her life as well. So when she got on stage and she saying either a gospel song or a folk song, or a civil rights Anthem, her power, she was passionate. And it came through her voice. And audiences would just explode with excitement and enthusiasm and determination because she felt every word of those gospel songs. She felt every word of those civil rights anthems, and the audiences just joined in and followed her. They really followed her until you mentioned

Gerard Robinson:

This, I’ve actually never heard or watched a documentary where she sang. So I’m going to make sure I take a look at that. I have a follow-up question based upon a couple of things that you said if Fannie Lou Hamer were alive today in the United States, what do you think she would think about our political system? Not just the parties, but where we are at this point.

Kate Clifford Larson:

I think that a lot on the one hand, I think she would be not very surprised on the other hand, I think she might be shocked at how things have seemed to have come so far and then not so far, but she would recognize today. She would recognize what is happening. She’d recognize the rhetoric. She’d recognize the attempts by some states or some politicians to limit voting rights. She would recognize that. And so in a way, I think she might not be surprised. And what she would say is you just have to keep working at this and convincing people that we’ve got to continue the hard work of the promise of American democracy that it’s accessible to everybody. And she really, I, yeah, there are so many things that she’d be so proud of and other things she would probably say, you know, I’m not surprised

Cara Candal:

That gives at least me, I can’t speak for Gerard simultaneous amounts of hope and despair, I think kind of a tough place to be. But I think it’s probably an accurate assessment. Well, Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, thank you so much for taking this time to spend this time with us as kids around the country are either, I know my own children are starting school here tomorrow, big, first day, as kids around the country, our back to school important conversations for us to be having. So thank you for your time. Thank you for having me.

Cara Candal:

This is an uplifting tweet. This is from Mathematica home of uplifting tweets, of course, and they tweeted on September 4th as part of an urban renewal initiative in New Jersey. At uncommon schools recently applied its model in a turnaround setting. We share our results in a new report. I have to say, I have a soft spot in my heart for uncommon because I used to train teachers. And a lot of them were from uncommon. I met so many wonderful and amazing human beings that work for that organization, but here are the really high level key findings from Mathematica. And as you can probably guess, Gerard they’re pretty compelling. So enrollment in eight turn and J school, meaning those school run by uncommon. A turnaround situation had positive and statistically significant impacts on student achievement in math that persisted up to four years after enrollment and had positive and statistically significant impacts on student achievement in English, language arts, that persisted up to four years after enrollment.

Cara Candal:

Another thing we’re not talking a lot about these days, we’ve been so overwhelmed with pandemic talk and whether or not people are in school. We haven’t been asking ourselves very often. If some of those schools, people are going to need to be turned around and this points to the fact that some do and there’s great groups out there able to do it. Folks that really have the know-how and listeners do be sure to turn in next week when we will be speaking with Dr. Leon Kass of the university of Chicago. So Gerard my friend, so nice to be back with you. You have a lot more tweets to discuss in the coming weeks off to a great let’s hope it’ll be a wonderful, healthy fall, 2021 full of learning new things. So happy to be doing it with you. My friend,

Gerard Robinson:

We have gotten the band back together.

Cara Candal:

All right, until next week you stay healthy and you keep eating that vegan food it’s working. Take care

Related Posts

UChicago’s Dr. Leon Kass on Genesis, Exodus, & Reading Great Books

This week on “The Learning Curve," guest co-host Jason Bedrick and co-host Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Leon Kass, MD, the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago. Dr. Kass describes the important pieces of wisdom and humanity people today can still learn from reading the Book of Genesis, the topic of his 2003 work, The Beginning of Wisdom.

NYT Best Seller Dr. Kate Clifford Larson on Fannie Lou Hamer & the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, a New York Times best-selling biographer of Harriet Tubman and Fannie Lou Hamer. Kate shares why she has written about these historical African-American figures, and how she thinks parents, teachers, and schools can draw on their lives to talk about race.

Valhalla Foundation’s Nancy Poon Lue on STEM Access & Equity

This week on “The Learning Curve," host Gerard Robinson talks with Nancy Poon Lue, incoming Senior Director at the Valhalla Foundation, where she will be leading their K-12 math funding initiatives. Nancy shares her recent work with the EF+Math Program, some of the challenges America has faced in ensuring students have a strong grounding in math and science, and the kinds of results she aims to achieve for kids in all ZIP codes. 

Yale’s Pulitzer-Winning Prof. David Blight on Frederick Douglass, Slavery, & Emancipation

This week on “The Learning Curve," Cara Candal and guest co-host Derrell Bradford talk with David Blight, Sterling Professor of American History and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.

UVA Prof. E.D. Hirsch, Jr. on Core Knowledge, Equity, & Educating Citizens

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Professor E.D. Hirsch, Jr., founder and chairman of the Core Knowledge Foundation, professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, and acclaimed author of the books, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and How to Educate a Citizen: The Power of Shared Knowledge to Unify a Nation.

Human Rights Advocate Kristina Arriaga on Cuba, Religious Liberty, & Cancel Culture

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Kristina Arriaga, president of Intrinsic, a strategic communications firm, and former vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Kristina shares her family’s experiences fleeing Castro’s communist regime in Cuba and other hardships, and how her background has shaped her commitment to religious liberty.

The Institute for Justice’s Michael Bindas on the SCOTUS, Carson v. Makin, & Expanding School Choice

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Michael Bindas, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice (IJ). They discuss IJ’s 2020 landmark U.S. Supreme Court win in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, and its implications for state Blaine Amendments, bigoted legal barriers that have blocked religious liberty and school choice for over a century, as well as the Maine school tuitioning case, Carson v. Makin, which was recently granted certiorari.

Civil Rights Leader Bob Woodson on 1776 Unites & Race in America

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Robert Woodson, Sr., founder and president of the Woodson Center that supports neighborhood-based initiatives to revitalize low-income communities, as well as author and editor of the May 2021 book, "Red, White, and Black."

Mariam Memarsadeghi on Freeing Iran, Civic Ed, & Immigrant Portraits

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-host Cara Candal and guest co-host Derrell Bradford talk with Mariam Memarsadeghi, senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. Mariam shares remembrances from her early years spent in the Shah’s Iran, and emigration to the U.S. shortly after Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution in 1979.

Independent Institute’s Dr. Morgan Hunter on Teaching Greco-Roman History to High Schoolers

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Morgan Hunter, Research Fellow at the Independent Institute in California, and co-author with Dr. Victor Davis Hanson and Dr. Williamson Evers, of the white paper, Is It Time for a “490 B.C. Project”?: High Schoolers Need to Know Our Classical Heritage.