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James B. Duke House

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

James B. Duke House
James B Duke House 001.JPG
James B. Duke House
Location 1 E. 78th St., New York, New York
Coordinates 40°46′35″N 73°57′50″W / 40.77639°N 73.96389°W / 40.77639; -73.96389
Area less than one acre
Built 1909
Architect Horace Trumbauer
Architectural style French Classical/Louis XV
NRHP reference # 77000956[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 10, 1977
Designated NYCL September 15, 1970

The James B. Duke House is a mansion located at 1 East 78th Street, on the northeast corner at Fifth Avenue, in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. The house is one of the great extant mansions from "Millionaire's Row". It was built for James Buchanan Duke, who was one of the founding partners of American Tobacco Company and the owner of Duke Power. The building has housed the New York University Institute of Fine Arts since 1952.

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  • Universities and Slavery | 1 of 5 | Keynote || Radcliffe Institute
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - Good morning, everyone. I'm Liz Cohen, and I'm Dean here at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and I want to welcome you to today's conference, Universities and Slavery Bound by History We are very excited that today actually happened, came. We've been planning this for a long time. We've been proud to plan this conference with the Office of Harvard University's President, Drew Gilpin Faust. And with Harvard faculty members Professors Sven Beckert, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, and Dan Carpenter, who is also the Faculty Director of the Social Sciences at the Radcliffe Institute. I thank them all, along with Radcliffe staff members, Rebecca Wassarman, Jessica Viklund, and Chandra Manning, and their very talented teams for their hard work organizing today's conference. As Harvard's Institute for Advanced Study, Radcliffe's mission is to foster interdisciplinary inquiry into important subjects. We regularly bring leading thinkers together to investigate profound questions like the ones we confront today, how and why have institutions of higher learning been deeply intertwined with the institution of slavery Here at Harvard, across the United States, and around the world? And what are the implications of that history? No one academic field can answer such complex and troubling questions. Which is why we felt that the Radcliffe Institute would provide an ideal venue for historians, civic leaders, artists, and many others to delve together into the fraught relationship between universities and slavery. I am pleased to share this day with so many of you here in Radcliffe Yard whether you are a high school student or a scholar of international acclaim, and with many more of you online. A warm welcome to everyone. I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to visit a special exhibition entitled Bound by History Harvard Slavery and Archives at the Harvard University Archives, which is located in Pusey Library in Harvard Yard adjacent to Widener Library. Ordinarily, this exhibit is open on weekdays, but it will also be open tomorrow, Saturday, March 4 from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM to allow as many of you as possible to view it. I would also be delighted to welcome you back to attend one of the many other public events that the Radcliffe Institute hosts throughout the year. You can learn more about what's coming up from the calendar brochure at your seat and on the Radcliffe website. But I want to take a moment to mention our culminating event of this academic year-- Radcliffe Day on Friday, May 26. This day is dedicated annually to honoring excellence and inquiry, and presenting the Radcliffe Medal to an individual who has had a transformative impact on society. This year, we will make history and present two Radcliffe Medals. One to Judy Woodruff and the other, posthumously to Gwen Eiffel for their many stellar years as co-anchors of the PBS News Hour. The day will honor the individual and joint accomplishments of these two journalists and the crucial importance of integrity in journalism. You can find more details on the Institute's website, and I hope that you will join us. Today's conference allows us all to participate in an urgent conversation about universities and slavery. Universities propel our society forward through pioneering research and the dissemination of new knowledge. But they are also shaped by their past, both the praiseworthy aspects and the elements we prefer to avoid, Including those closely bound up with slavery. Discussions about universities and slavery began on individual campuses. In 2003, Brown University President Ruth Simmons appointed a steering committee on slavery and justice. And in 2007, Brown committed to taking concrete steps to address and memorialize the role of slavery in its history. In that same year, Professors Sven Beckert began teaching an undergraduate research seminar on the history of slavery here at Harvard. Meanwhile, descendants of James Rollins, known as the Father of the University of Missouri, established the James S. Rollins Slavery Atonement Endowment to support the University of Missouri's black studies program. As the realization spread that institutions of higher learning and the institution of slavery shared an interconnected history, many more schools began investigating how slaves and slavery had helped construct, in all senses of that word, their own hallowed halls of learning. Soon, universities began looking beyond their own campus gates to learn more about the role of slavery in the development of higher education more broadly. Collective efforts have included a landmark conference hosted by Emory University in 2011, and the University Studying Slavery Initiative, which began among schools in Virginia and is now spread across state lines to include institutions throughout the eastern half of the United States. The number of universities coming to terms with this unsettling part of their histories continues to grow. Students in the United States and around the world are asking their schools and colleges to take down statues of slave-owning or slave-trading founders, rename buildings, and redesign university insignia. Many of you in this audience come from campuses now taking seriously the responsibility of learning what slavery has meant at and for your own institution. Now it is time to make sure that the larger public is included in this important conversation. So I am delighted at the broad and diverse audience that we have gathered here today. In order to move forward, we must first reckon with a complicated past. Through the impressive efforts of many dedicated researchers we've been learning a great deal about how slavery benefited universities financially and through the labor of enslaved individuals. But we shouldn't overlook how it also influence universities intellectual development. Slavery shaped teaching methods, curricula, and the evolution of entire disciplines. Today's conference will take us deep into the consideration of these multifaceted relationships. Let's begin by looking at the cover of your conference program. So if you want to dig that out. The program cover features a portrait of a man named Renty who was born in Africa, kidnapped, and sold into slavery in the United States in the first half of the 19th century. This image was taken in 1850, when Renty was a slave at Edgehill Plantation near Columbia, South Carolina. Portraits were chiefly reserved for the well-to-do in 1850. So who took this image, and why? It turns out, that the portrait was taken for Louis Agassiz, a Harvard professor and a world renowned scientist in his day. He was one of the inaugural professors at the Lawrence Scientific School, the precursor of today's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences here at Harvard. Some of you, in fact, are watching from Agassiz House, that's our overflow space, where we will all gather later today for a reception after the conference. That building is named for Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, herself a teacher, president of Radcliffe College, and Louie's wife. Louis Agassiz was a proponent of a scientific theory that was regarded as one of the most cutting edge ideas of his day, the Theory of Polygenesis. That theory denied that all humans shared common ancestry, and instead posited that different races were actually distinct and unequal species. In 1850, Agassiz traveled to a South Carolina plantation to gather evidence for polygenesis. He observed enslaved workers there and long after his return to Cambridge, he studied portraits taken of five of the men and two of the women. Agassiz classified and cataloged those men and women by their physical characteristics, in much the same way that he had classified and cataloged species of animals earlier in his career. The image of Renty that you see on the cover of your program, and here on the screen, is one of those images. To Agassiz, Renty was a specimen to inform the Harvard teaching curriculum and to contribute to the development of the academic disciplines of comparative anatomy and anthropology. Renty's cataloged biological characteristics were what interested Agassiz. Today, it is Renty's personal story that interests us. So what do we know about that story? The historical record tells us that Renty was a member of the Congo Tribe. The historical record tells us that he spent his days laboring. The historical record tells us that he was a father. His daughter Delia also worked on the Edgehill Plantation. Renty was surely much more than either Agassiz's list of characteristics or the bare facts revealed in the conventional written historical record. Much of his personal story remains unknown, or pieced together by conjecture because so much has been erased from that written record. But that does not mean that we should stop trying to know more. We have in fact hosted two seminars here at Radcliffe on the Agassiz images. One in 2012 and another in 2015, and you can read more about one campaign to elevate Renty, literally, in my note in your program. For many years the Agassiz images remained hidden in an attic here at Harvard until Peabody Museum staff rediscovered them in 1976. Similarly, the historical tie between universities and slavery has remained buried for years. But that relationship could never fully disappear, any more than Renty's photograph truly vanished-- even when it was out of sight. Now we must comb through the attics and open the disturbing drawers of our universities past, no matter how difficult. As we do, I trust that we will grow to appreciate more and more how an image like Renty's has significance far beyond the Edgehill Plantation in Columbia, South Carolina, where he was enslaved. Thanks to our distinguished speakers assembled here today and through all of our efforts. We will and we must continue to unearth history today and commit to ensuring that it informs our work going forward. It is now my great pleasure to welcome to the podium distinguished historian and Harvard University President, Drew Gilpin Faust. [APPLAUSE] - Thank you. Thank you. I want to express my deepest appreciation to Dean Lizabeth Cohen and her Radcliffe colleagues for taking on my request to sponsor this conference with such enthusiasm and dedication. We are all very much in their debt. I want to give special thanks to faculty conference organizers, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Sven Beckert, and Dan Carpenter, for shaping such a rich program. And I also want to say a special thank you to Megan Sniffin-Marinoff and the staff of the Harvard University Archives for their efforts to find our history. These are just in their early stages, they will continue, but the exhibit that they have already put together and the things they've already uncovered are the beginning of a very important trajectory of discovery that we will be engaged in. Last April, members of the Harvard community gathered together with Congressman John Lewis to place a plaque at Wadsworth House commemorating the lives of four enslaved persons who had, during the 18th century, worked there in the households of two Harvard presidents. This effort was intended to be one milestone in a broader exploration of an aspect of Harvard's past that has been rarely acknowledged and poorly understood. Harvard was directly complicit in slavery from the college's earliest days in the 17th century, until the system of bondage ended in Massachusetts in 1783. Then, through financial and other ties with the slave South, Harvard continued to be involved with slavery up until the time of emancipation. This history and its legacy have shaped our institution in ways we have yet to fully understand. Today's conference is intended to help us explore parts of the past that have remained all but invisible. To acknowledge those realities is essential if we are to undermine the legacies of race and slavery that continue to divide our nation. And if we are to commit ourselves to building a better future. Slavery of course, is part, not just of Harvard's history, but embedded in the past of universities across the United States and in the world beyond our national borders. Today we will also examine this broader context, investigating historical similarities and differences, as well as the range of contemporary efforts to confront slavery's distressing legacies. So we look at both past and present today in the firm belief that only by coming to terms with history can we free ourselves to create a more just world. Thank you for joining us in that enterprise. As our keynote speaker, we are honored to have the ideal person to lead us in that work. His many honors and accomplishments are detailed in your program. Please join me in welcoming Ta-Nehisi Coates. [APPLAUSE] - I was-- Whenever I, and I've been blessed one or two times to do things with President Faust, and I told her that I was going to resist the temptation to gush over her work as a historian. Before I knew President Faust was President Faust, I knew her as Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust through her work. And then I realized she was actually president of Harvard. I say that not as-- just as a mere note of flattery, it is a tremendous, tremendous honor to be here, and in many ways, to my mind, it's a little absurd to have me here as a keynote speaker, because I learn so much from you guys. And I'm speaking about the historians, and the sociologists, and academics in the audience, and the political scientists. I've been blessed with this opportunity. As a writer for the Atlantic Magazine, which has this huge platform and it's huge megaphone, but sometimes people make the mistake of thinking because it's the first time they've seen something that you're the originator of that work. And I want to do right now what I try to do all the time and disabuse people of that notion. My job, a big part of my job is I see it, is to really just use that megaphone to amplify some of the great work that that's happening. When I came to the Atlantic, I think I had a basic, what one might call a conventional, liberal perspective on race and racism in this country. And I guess I would have said race at that time. And the basic notion was that black people were a class of people who, for historical reasons, suffered a greater percentage of poverty. And one of the ways to deal with that was if you could direct traditional programs that we use for folks that are impoverished towards black folks then everything would be OK. But again largely, from the research of people who were assembled in this room, I came two conclusions. The first was that black people, in and of themselves, are class in America. And that goes across the board for what we consider conventional class that you can't really talk about an upper middle class, a black upper middle class, and a white upper middle class as though they're somehow equal. You can't talk about a black poverty and white poverty as those two things are somehow equal. That the very ecology that black folks exist in different places is very, very different. I grew up in West Baltimore. I had two parents in my house. I had parents who valued education, both my parents eventually became college graduates. Reading was very, very much stress in my house. But I didn't have a single friend in my neighborhood who was like me. The vast majority of my friends did not have fathers in their home. A significant number of them didn't even know their fathers and, at my class at school, it was nothing-- there were very few, if any, families like the one I grew up in. My family was unique for other reasons, which I've detailed, but just in that sort of basic sense, what I'm saying is the basic ecology was different. What that meant was the neighborhood I was in, it wasn't the same amount of social capital assembled that might have been true if you had taken that same profile of a family and that family had been white. Robert Sampson who is-- Rob, are you here? I got a note saying you're going to be here. I don't know if Rob made it. Oh, there he is there. Hey, Rob, how are you doing, man? I'm going to make this very, very-- So you know, Rob has actually, he's been a very, very significant. Bruce Weston, Devah Pager, and Rob, these people have been very, very significant to me understanding what I'm going to try to layout here. Rob, in his book, The Great American City, Chicago, and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect, has a chart and on one axis, you see the incarceration rate from 1992 1995, when on the other axis you see the incarceration rate from 2000 to 2005. And the effect is that the further up you go the axis you can see people who are cross those two periods have higher incarceration rates. And along the line you have neighborhoods throughout Chicago bunched up way at the top of this line. That is to say, the neighborhoods that have had the highest incarceration rates across this period that Rob is studying, you see totally black neighborhoods, There are no white neighborhoods at the top of that line. And then at the bottom of that line where you see the lowest amount of incarceration rates across this period, it's all white neighborhoods. It's not even a bit of overlap, there's point in which the two intersect. Indeed, as Rob points out, the highest ranked black community has an imprisonment rate over 40 times higher than the highest ranked white community. It's two different ecologies. It's not the same thing. There is no black middle class neighborhood, or black upper middle class neighborhood in Chicago with the effects somehow mirror-- not even a black-- not even a white upper middle class, but a white poor neighborhood, there just is no overlap at all. That was the sociology. And then what I got from the history was the reasoning. That they said that something had actually happened. And you know when I started this period of study in my life I had a basic understanding that, yeah slavery had happened in this country, it was bad. There had been a civil war. Civil War might have had something to do with it. I mean, I'm sort of ashamed of myself. This was not this long ago. I mean this like 10 years ago. This was a very, very recent development. And then what you come to realize is that, no, no, no, slavery was big business. It actually was big, big, like it was huge. I mean so huge that it's literally impossible to imagine the United States of America without it. That sounds rhetorical and people stand up and they make that sort of bold claim all the time. [INAUDIBLE] if you talk about the four million enslaved African-Americans in this country in 1860, and again I feel a bit absurd making this statement to this learned audience, but I'm aware there are other people out there watching also-- those four million African-Americans collectively are worth $3 billion in that period of time. What that means to put that in context, and give you some sense, just not to make it an abstract number, if you took all of the productive capacity of this country in 1860, if you took all the banks, if you took all the railroads, if you took all the nascent factories, if you took everything that you might would consider industry, and you put it in one pile over here, and you put the four million bodies of the enslaved African-Americans in this country, black people in this country, they were worth more than the entire productive capacity in this country. It was by far the greatest asset in this country. If you wanted to go and find the largest concentration of millionaires and multimillionaires in this country in 1860, you wouldn't go to New York, you wouldn't go to Chicago, you would not come up here to Boston or to Cambridge. You would go to the Mississippi River Valley. And the reason for that was obviously the business that was conducted there. The business being based on the bodies of black people. I think as this conference illustrates, and as President Faust illustrated in her comment, this was not merely a southern problem, 60% of our exports as a country were cotton in 1860. We're all tied to this. And when you begin to understand it as business, when you begin to be able to put numbers on it, when you begin to see the huge enterprise, understand that the United States of America was not a country with a little bit of slavery, but it was actually a slave society-- when you start to wrap your head around that and what that meant, that begins to make connections to where you are now. Especially when you can analyze all the attending effects. I tell people all the time, we talk about enslavement as though we were a bump in the road. And I tell people it's the road, it's the actual road. It's the actual-- And I know there's like debate-- this debate right now between historians and economists about whether it could have been another way? Could you have had America-- and maybe you could have, but this is the way it happened. This is the way it-- If I coulda, woulda, shoulda. This is what happened though. This is the thing that actually happened. I want to offer, during my brief time here, I just want to offer a few suggestions for universities who are pursuing this study, and for anybody that's really interested, for all those who are here who are interested in this study. I think the first thing that's important to do is not to limit the study of enslavement to enslavement. And that is really, really, really, really, really important. Enslavement is the originating system of plunder, but it birthed all sorts of other systems of plunder that haunt us up until this very day. And I want to be really clear about this, when we talk about, say the era of Jim Crow segregation that obviously comes directly out of enslavement. Often times, we find ourselves appealing to very sentimental language. We picture enslavement, excuse me not enslavement, segregation as simply the right of white and black people not to sit next to each other as they are in this room today. And the thing I always try to remind people is that segregation is plunder. It's taking from somebody else to benefit another group of people. It is the act of putting folks into a box so that you can better and more efficiently rob them. If you are living in Mississippi in 1940 and you're being taxed, and there's a public university that you cannot attend, you are being plundered. If you are living in Alabama, and you're being taxed for a school system. And you don't have the full access to that school system that everyone else does, you're being plundered. If you are living in Georgia in 1950, and you can't go to the public swimming pools, the way other citizens can, and you're being taxed-- even if you're not being taxed, I would argue, by right of social contract-- you're being plundered. Somebody is taking from you. And we can take this out across the board. I did my own piece in "The Case for Reparations," looking at the housing conditions in the North and rooting the case in that. But the point is to recognize that the plunder of slavery, the plunder of enslavement does not end with enslavement. And those of us who are interested in that are charged with looking past that. I keep using this word plunder. And I think my second suggestion would be it's very, very important to talk about it in that way. Well, one of the things that happened, and maybe not so much here, but definitely in the grander conversation. Racism in this country is seen as a misunderstanding. Or somehow just like bad manners or something. One group of people was impolite to another group of people. It wasn't nice enough. We should have been nicer. We could have looked into each other's heart. We could have been nicer. From time to time when I speak, I'll have someone in the audience, especially when I'm talking about reparations, when I'm talking about the Civil War. And at times there will be somebody with roots in the South or from the South directly. And they'll say my great-great-great-grand such and such, you know, was a Southerner. But they didn't own any slaves. What does this have to do with me? And I would tell them repeatedly that that may be true. But I assure you your great-great-grand such and such wanted to own slaves. And that's because enslavement was a system. It was a system. It wasn't about being nice. It was about structures. It was about the way things were set up to benefit one class of people to the detriment of another class. And it's very, very, very important to understand the intentionality of it. To not speak of it in such a way as though it was outside of our hands, that it was an actual done thing. The third thing is pretty obvious. I think every single one of these universities needs to make reparations. I think there's just no way. [APPLAUSE] I don't know how you get around that. I just don't. I don't know how you conduct research that shows that your very existence is rooted in a great crime. And you just say, well, shrug. And maybe at best say, I'm sorry, and you walk away. And I think you need to use the language of reparation. I think it's very, very important to actually say that word. To acknowledge that something was done. And these institutions, some of the most elite institutions in our country, are taking active or effective action to make good on that. I think it's extremely, extremely, extremely important to do. I don't want to go so far as to say the research is for naught if that doesn't happen. Listen, as a country, we recognize that our history is important. And we recognize that our place in the world and our place in history comes because of the sacrifices and the great deeds of our forefathers. That's why we have a Presidents' Day. That's why we have a 4th of July. We say thanks. We recognize the importance of history. We're big on taking a moment to say thanks. I just think it works the other way, also. I think when you stand on the backs of other people who have been exploited, you have to in a moral sense, as any sort of institution that wants to teach young people about morals and ethics, you have to do the right thing and try to make some amends for that. I just don't know how you get around that. I don't, in the fourth suggestion, think it's enough for these universities actually to make reparations themselves. I think they need to urge other institutions throughout this country also to make reparations. I think being here at a place like Harvard, or being at a Yale or being at a Princeton or being at a Georgetown, you're talking about institutions that effectively birthed the leadership class in this country. I can remember a time when words like reparations-- and maybe even still to an extent today, but I think less so today-- was seen as like some sort of cockamamie, crazy eyed thing, like you had just suggested human sacrifice or something. That's less so today. It's still a little bit, but it's less so. And I think these institutions have a responsibility to help make the conversation respectable. Because it deserves to be respectable. It deserves to be respectable. Reparations is not even an alien concept. Once I was on the radio with this guy who was objecting to this language of reparations. And I asked him, I said do you oppose the reparations that were signed by President Ronald Reagan for the internment of Japanese-Americans? Do you really oppose that? No, no, no, I don't oppose that. I said, how then could you oppose reparations for the crimes of Jim Crow housing segregation. That was more recent. How can you actively oppose that? And what I got to was the hard part about this is the idea of giving black people things. We're being seen as having given-- they're really not giving anybody anything. For being seen as having given black people things. That's just a brief diversion. I'm sorry. This has taken a little longer than I thought. I'm going to get out of your way real quick. You know sometimes I get in these conversations, and people say, well, why can't we see our past, and see our history in the way that Germany has come to grips with its history. And if you go throughout Germany, you can see that it's this very, very real reminder of everything that happened there. And I tell them, yeah, but see Germany killed the vast majority of Jews who were living there. They're not alive as an active political force. The problem is black people are still here. They're an active force who can actually do things. So I think if anything that hampers the fight for reparations as much as anything. Having said that, I really, really believe it really is up to the leadership gathered here today to help the broader country come to understand the struggle, and to force, if not force, can we say coerce, can we say coax, other institutions throughout this country to do this sort of research. And to try to think about what they owe. The last thing I would say is listen and don't be self-congratulatory, and don't get too mad. Because people are going to be mad at you. And I would submit, they will be mad at you for good reason. Reparations is not a new concept. It's not even so much that I, myself, in my writing didn't come up with the concept. The folks in the '80s and '90s who were lobbying for it didn't come up with the concept. In the '60s, it doesn't have its origins there. This goes back to Belinda Royal. We've been fighting this since the 18th century. And so there's a lot of pent up anger. A lot of that is going to be directed at you guys. I'm sorry about that, but one of the worst things you can do is just retreat into yourself, into your shell. Doesn't mean you have to take every suggestion from every crazy person that comes up to you. But you've got to listen. You've got to listen, and you've got to hear that anger. It comes from a deep, deep place. somewhere deep in our hearts, even if we don't always acknowledge it. All of us know on some emotional level that we were robbed. And that we've been the victims of generational robbery. Now we don't always have the intellectual tools that historians here, and the academics, and the sociologists and the political scientists have helped, and I give all praise for this, to assemble. So that we can understand specifically how that happened. But we know it in our heart. So when you interact with people you might feel a little bit of that. OK, I'm going to give up this microphone. Because I look very, very much forward to talking to [? Joy ?] and having this conversation. Thank you so much guys. [APPLAUSE] - Thank you. - [INAUDIBLE] - [INAUDIBLE] Thank you, Ta-Nehisi. - Thanks for having me. - It's great to have you here. I would gush, but-- - [LAUGHS] - at you, but I'll refrain. But thank you for the kind words about our scholarship collectively and about the work that gets done that you have put to such good use. Very challenging talk with a kind of call to action for this group. And I wanted to start with the history part of it. And I've always been interested in how, really through the notion of plunder, you situate your analyses in history. But they really come right up to the present, the reparations article with its discussion of housing policy and so forth. So how do you see the differential emphasis? I mean should we be talking more about today? Or is it all of a piece? And how do we understand plunder that people are experiencing at this very moment through the growing inequality in our society, so much of what the recent political discourse has been focused on? And how much do we focus on origins of it, or are they inseparable? And how do you think about that when you're doing your own writing and your own inquiries? - So when I wrote "The Case for Reparations," there were a number of people, Sandy Darity down at Duke, for instance, who had done a pretty thorough scholarship on the concept. And one of the most interesting pieces-- and I can't even remember where I read this and I came across it-- the notion that actually this does not, this conversation does not in any way have to be confined to enslavement. For instance, housing segregation could be talked about. And that piqued me. But it piqued me, obviously, as a piece of knowledge, but as a journalist. Because as a journalist, I thought A, if I'm going to convince my magazine to do something like this and to put the weight and the resources behind it to make the case, because if you're going to argue for reparations, you can't do a 800 word column and say, I think this is a good idea. You know you have to have the full weight of the thing that a magazine like The Atlantic usually brings and maybe a little bit more brought to bear. And so it was very, very important for me to A, find somebody who was alive, who I actually could make the case on their behalf. So that you could immediately get past the notion, that sort of popular idea, which I don't even know if it's sufficient, but it's always raised-- that, oh, these people have been long dead. But when I wrote the piece I said, OK, we're going to start here. But you do ultimately have to go back to slavery, because you have to understand how it happened. So I don't think there's a way of getting around it. I do think though, that if you remain too focused there, people just dismiss it out of hand. They aren't able to see how this thing redounded across history. And you know for me, the most disturbing part of it is every time you don't do something, every time you don't talk about it, it just burrows further and further and further and further. And such to the point that you're at those incarceration numbers I cited. That very much is the legacy of enslavement. People have remained within a class across generations and subject to certain forces across generations because of enslavement, because the policies that came after enslavement, because of policies that came after, after the enslavement. But it's all linked. It's like a chain in effect. And my great fear really is that if this is not dealt with, this will mark us for our whole history. It's that deep. It's that profound. It's that threatening. - I sometimes am struck by a sense of history's importance because of the desire to avoid it. I think about the brouhaha that erupted when Michelle Obama said my children grew up in the White House, which was built by slaves. And that was not allowed to mention, that there was so much push back about that comment. And so it's as if people who may not know any history, affirmatively don't want to know history because they're afraid of it. So how do we deal with that, the resistance to teaching slavery in the schools because it's awkward to talk about, the resistance when the National Park Service started bringing slavery into the interpretation of sites, civil war sites and other sites. Is it through things like The Atlantic? Is it academics? What breaks down that resistance? - I think the first thing you have to recognize-- you're not going to get everybody. As you said, there are people who are affirmatively ignorant. You know, it's not merely that I don't want to know. It's like my whole identity is staked on me not knowing. And I don't know that you can-- that's beyond you. That's for that person to decide what they're going to do. But in the middle of that, again, I considered myself circa 2008 a reasonably well-read person. I had at that point been a journalist for about 12 years. I had written quite a bit about race. But the amount that-- I'm kind of ashamed, to be honest. And so I think actually there are many, many more people who are gettable. Again, when I published "The Case for Reparations," I can't tell you how many people came up to me and said, I had never heard of redline. I mean white people saying, I didn't know this happened. I mean this is a policy I've seen in every major city. You can literally go on Google right now and find it. It's not a matter of information being hard to access. It's clear. It's not buried away in archives. It's actually very, very easily accessible. But folks just didn't know. I do think that we may be at somewhat of an advantage right now. Because in the era of the internet, and I know internet has all sorts of problems. Social media has all sorts of problems. But the swiftness with which you can access information, and just say here it is. Here it is. You don't have to wait on this monograph to arrive in two weeks. It's right here. We have the map right there. That's what it says right there. So I think what's important is to get a critical mass of people. I think it's also important to think long term, to think about fights that may not be solved in our lifetime, that may not be solved in our children's lifetime. There may well be a sense giving the current politics of this country to move away from fights because they barely looked like they were realizable during the previous administration. They certainly don't look like they are realizable now. But I think you have to realize this is a long, long fight. Like I said it's been going on since Belinda Royal. Who are you to drop your weapons right now and say, OK, I can't deal. So I think it's important to keep those ideas alive. - You know I think about the phrase you used a few minutes ago, when you said it isn't a bump in the road, it's the road. I think that's part of the effort to deny this history, is to say, oh, that's just a bump in the road. So to establish the roadness of this history is, it seems to me, an important step that has to be taken in order to have the necessity, urgency of this understanding. Otherwise, you can just say, oh, that was just something we should teach about, something we don't need to think about. - I agree. I agree. And again, I mean the scope of it-- I don't think people realize, for instance, that in 1860, most of the people living in say, South Carolina or Mississippi, were literally property. That was the most of the people. That you can't really talk about any sort of democracy at all in that sort of situation. That half the people, in say a place like Georgia. I don't think people-- like the scope of it. And then they don't quite get how much money [INAUDIBLE] actually was even though [? there were all sorts of ?] [? commerce ?] actually making off of it. And I think also part of this, and honestly I'm just dipping my toe in this myself to understand this, they don't understand how much, like how the entire West, modern West is not really understandable without it. They just don't. And like in a global sense, it's very hard. And one of the things it brings to me is a more philosophical question of is it possible for human societies, for states, to acknowledge these sorts of things? Is the blindness-- I'm going out there right now-- but is the blindness actually kind of necessary? Because I don't think human societies have ever been particularly good at documenting their crimes. And when you're talking about a crime that wasn't just, again, a bump on the road, but something that made you possible. That's tough. But then again, we say we're exceptional, so-- - As you say that, how do you think about efforts that might be seen as analogous to the one you're asking for. Do you think Germany has faced its past-- [INTERPOSING VOICES] - Again, if you destroy the people or the majority of the people, the vast majority of people. And then you say, I'm sorry. But the people aren't there as an active political presence, you know? And we should be really, really clear about we're asking for. To acknowledge this, I mean it puts tremendous weight on institutions. If you understand that the White House was built by enslaved people, if you understand that the Mall was built by enslaved people, you take a different view, for instance, of statehood for Washington, DC. Those sorts of things, like it throws a light. It makes that very, very, very uncomfortable. And you start to understand, is it a mere coincidence that this majority black capital city has no representation in Congress? Is that a coincidence? Or is something going on? So it disturbs like all sorts of other attendant myths and realities in a way that, if you've murdered the vast majority of that populace, it does not. What can we do now? Washington, DC is no longer majority black, oh, well, sorry about that. I think the difference is that you have to act-- and I suspect it was the same for-- to a lesser, in a different way, but for the reparations that was made on behalf of Japanese-Americans. It wasn't the sheer numbers. This is a country that had a black president. You know largely, well, not entirely, through the voting strength of black people. So African-Americans, and we sometimes don't quite grasp it, but they're a very potent political force in this country. Not omnipotent, but a very, very potent force. And so the notion that you would hand over more power to that force, I think is very, very disturbing to people. - So that is not an [? analogy. ?] I think the notion of system is so important here. When I used to teach a course on the Old South, I always talked about how it was a system. So you had to understand white family relations, policing, everything based on the presence of substantial 4 million numbers of unfree people in that society. So to understand those connections does seem to me critical, because it does define. It does enable you to ask questions about what else, what else-- - And I think like part of it is like-- I think maybe our artists bear some responsibility here. We're getting better about this. But I think depictions of the South, obviously. I mean, this is obvious to you guys. But depictions of the South, the antebellum South are part of why people don't know. Is Gone with the Wind the second most popular book after The Bible? I think it's some crazy-- and that's not a mistake. You know, it's not a mistake. You think about film history and Gone with the Wind being such a revolutionary film and the most revolutionary film being Birth of a Nation. I mean, this is not a mistake. It's not a mistake. And so doing the work of altering that. Altering how people see themselves in the past through the arts, I think is actually also really, really important. - I think another important development in history over the past couple of decades has been the growing acknowledgement in research that is the foundation for that of the systematic presence of slavery in the North. Because it was always the great alibi for the North. As Robert Penn Warren put it, oh, you were the bad ones, and we were free. And we're exempt, therefore the nation in some sense is exempt. Because it was only that little bump in the road. - It was sectional. - Yeah, it was sectional. So I think that's made a real change, too. - Yeah, no, I agree. - Let me ask about the concept of reparations and how you think about it. You have the article "The Case for Reparations." Then you have another article called "The Case for the Consideration of Reparations." - I do? I don't even remember that. I'm sure it exists. - I'll be the great expert on Ta-Nehisi Coates. [LAUGHTER] - And his oeuvre. But in that little piece, it's much shorter than the other one, in case you forgot, since you've forgot. But in it, you talk about the importance of the discussion, as well as whatever outcome. And you shy away a little bit from being specific about an outcome. So the word reparations, to repair is the origin of it. How do we get to repair-- to the place where it is repaired? And is it the process that gets us there? And you've been resistant to say it should be x or y or this payment. - Yeah, yeah, and I have because I think what people do is, in order to scuttle the conversation, they say, well, how would it work? And then they want to have an argument about how it works. And if you can't demonstrate a full plan, then they say, well, we shouldn't even have the conversation. But I think, and I'm not speaking for actual academic audiences or classrooms here, I think actually that is a way to cover for the fact that people don't actually want to talk about it. And the talk, I think the barrier to reparations in this country is not that there is not a workable way to do it. And I really, really believe this. The barrier is that people don't want to pay. And they don't think they should have to. So when I wrote "The Case for Reparations," and in much of my work since then, for me, the most important thing is to make people first of all aware of the debt. People don't accept the debt. And so it's like let's move to this conversation about financing. But you don't even accept that you owe anybody anything. You know, which for me, seems a little backwards. And at the same time, again, I know that there are many, many economists who've actually done that sort of work and say, here's a scheme for how it could work. Here are certain things. Let me be very clear about something. I do think it involves a payment of money. I just want to be really clear about that. I don't think you can separate it. And you can have all sort of debates about-- does that mean, for instance, in neighborhoods that were redlined on the West Side of Chicago, there should be some sort of targeted funding for those specific blocks? Maybe it means that. Does it mean that somebody like the lead person I write about in my article, Clyde Ross, who was repeatedly robbed, should get an actual check. Maybe it means that. Does it mean that people who can prove-- and I'm again, I'm confining this because this is where I did my primary amount of research-- does it mean that people who can necessarily prove that they went to try to use the GI Bill to do x, y, and z and were denied should get a check? Maybe it does. Maybe it does. But the first thing you've got to do is acknowledge that there was an actual crime before you move to sentencing. You have to get people to be able to do that. And my sense is that the vast majority of the times people say, oh, it's unworkable. My questions is wait, wait, wait, wait-- but do you think it's actually owed though? Are you actually convinced of that? Because oftentimes, you can say to somebody. I have done something to you. I can never completely make it right. But here's what I can do. And if you can even get there, I mean obviously you can't completely make this right. But if you could even get there, it would even be something. I mean this is why-- maybe I got a little over the top. But I was very, very excited to see Georgetown actually do something, anything. I mean I was excited to see something. Does that make it right? Does that make up for everything that happened? for Georgetown's involvement in slavery? No. It doesn't. But it's at least the admission and the attempt to start to do something. It also doesn't mean that people shouldn't continue to pressure Georgetown. It doesn't mean that people should just walk away from that. But at least it's an attempt. I just find it hard when what people are trying to do is scuttle the entire conversation. - You use the word plunder a lot, which is a very powerful word. And as I was listening to you just now, I was thinking we need to have historians of plunder. And really define what the nature of those extortions has been. And trace them in a way that makes the power of obligation seem tangible in a sense. - I totally, I totally agree. I mean what is the price, because there surely has to be one, if you are again, living in-- I think Mississippi was majority black until maybe 1930 or so. If you're living in that state, and you effectively don't have the ability to vote, which is to say you have no say over how the government uses tax dollars. I mean these are the kind of economic costs. I know for Clyde Ross what it meant was that folks could come onto his family's property and just basically steal the property and everything that they owned. And they had no ability to appeal to anyone. There must be a way of putting that in economic terms. I think that's really important. For activist reasons, and I understand this, I think segregation is often spoken about in a way that's meant to appeal to people's morality. It's not fair that you and I can't sit next to each other and have a conversation. There's something inherently unjust about that. But I think at this point in history, there probably needs to be a more hard headed conversation about what segregation-- and there might already be one taking place-- about what segregation actually is, about again, what it meant. Like what James Meredith was actually doing-- and I regret this as a young person thinking about, I could never understand the fight for integration. I could never understand like-- if you sit next to white people, you're going to get smart? But what is going on here. And that's because they didn't teach the economic element of it. They didn't talk about what sort of shape these schools were in. They didn't talk about specifically why. The [? folks, ?] what they wanted was access. Equal? I mean there was no separate but equal. It didn't actually work that way. And so if you were laboring across generations with unequal enforcement of the social contract, what did that cost you? And I just think that's a really, really important question that has-- you got to get beyond these sort of moral and sentimentalist appeals, I think. - So Ta-Nehisi, something strikes me here as a bit contradictory. Which is we've been talking about system, and what you've said just now is that the feeling good about being able to sit next to someone is not meaningful if there's a whole system that surrounds it that's exploiting people. But as you talk about reparations, it seemed to me more directed at individuals or particulars rather than systematic overhaul. And in a sense, isn't the real reparation to break down the systems that plunder and that otherwise, it's just a stopgap and plunder will continue. You know, I've been thinking a lot this morning about someone I admire enormously Bryan Stevenson. And what he's showing about incarceration and the kind of modern day slavery as he sees it. So if there is a way that some sort of reparation to the person who is redlined is offered. And we still have that system of incarcerating black people at such an incredible rate, then we won't have repaired things. So how do we think reparations have to be systematic in some sense to undermine the foundations of this plunder that you describe. - I think in this particular case, history does give us a guide. If you look across the board, after World War II there were manifold reparations made to victims of the Holocaust. It wasn't merely, for instance, just one. We did this, x, y, z. There were a series of cases across the board made. Again, I'm focusing or in that last comment I focused on housing because that was the one that I focused on, that was the one I had researched. But I would not say that to the exclusion of all other cases for reparations to be made. And I think if you can get, and forgive me if this sounds pie in the sky, but if you can get a critical mass of Americans to understand that this was an across the board phenomenon. Again, I thought about housing because housing is not just a place where you can make the case, where people are alive today. It's a place where it is the source of most Americans' wealth. It's how you assemble wealth in this country. And if you can't do that, if you're prevented from doing that, while other people are allowed to do it, it's obviously a problem. But I think if you can get the notion across the board that this was robbery in every phase-- in education, in criminal justice, in housing, during the period of enslavement, in voting. If you can get that kind of manifold idea, then you can have several cases for reparations. And probably what you need is several things. You almost need a spirit of it. You need the country to acknowledge this is part of our history, and we have a responsibility across the board to repair this. Again, it might be individual people. That's probably not the end of it. And I suspect if we started doing this research, we could see it. You could see how possible it is. Again, I think I really believe it's the work of generations. - So we're talking today about universities in particular. And when you think about that, you defined a special role, which is our teaching role, our leadership role, our nurturing of leaders role. But there are many other institutions in our society as well that have had pasts that are embedded with slavery in one way or another. Do you see other institutions that have particular obligations in this space? - Yeah, certainly so. And I think they might have begun to do something about this. But I mean certainly if you think about what happened in Virginia with mass resistance. Wherein you had people responding to Brown versus the Board by effectively shutting down the public school system. Certainly that injured some folks. When you think about-- and I'm talking about micro cases, micro quote here. When you think about, I believe it's North Carolina, where they were sterilizing folks. And I think they recently were very, very successful with that. When you think about Jon Burge in Chicago, where he was spent years just torturing people. And they made a successful reparations claim against the crimes of Jon Burge. But you look at Chicago, and you see that-- and this is what happened. You look at what happened with something like what Laquan McDonald, and you see the tape of him being shot down. And you know that the officers who were there covered that up. And you know that the person who was chief of police at the time covered that up. And you know the cover up extended all the way up to the mayor's office. That folks knew. Is there something systemic going on with the police department? I mean that's an institution I really think that you could probably go across the board and study. I'm putting particular pressure on the institutions because you guys know-- you guys know, you have a knowledge that maybe the Chicago Police Department does not have-- yet. You know so I think it's just incumbent on you to act. And to convince places like that. And to convince leaders, who will go off to be like mayors of Chicago, and corporate leaders in big cities, that this is a real thing not just here. But that it's systemic. It's across the board. And they really should have a responsibility to address. I think it would make governance for people who are fair-minded and good, and just don't really have an understanding of history a little bit more manageable to understand where this stuff comes from. - I think it's a challenge for universities because we're more likely to have open discussions. We are more likely to have scholars who want to do research and dig into these questions and debate them. And so thinking about how we can influence institutions that are less likely to do that and don't see it as part of their mission will be an interesting challenge that you put before us. - I mean I think, like I said, the easiest place to start with is the students. I mean obviously there should be more. But I think that's-- I was talking to Craig Wilder who's over here earlier about his book Ebony and Ivy. And he was saying they had taken it up, and it was a class at Columbia now, on Columbia and slavery. And I asked him do they mandate reading the book in the freshman class? I'm not a university president. I'm just talking here. But I kind of think, I kind of think if you're going to come to an Ivy League school, and you're going to profit from that education, and you have not read that book, you have done yourself a disservice. So if I were president for the day or for the year, I might mandate that every freshman class read that book. Or if not that book, something like that. There's no way that I would want to be graduating people from an institution that was literally made possible by-- slavery was the road-- and have them graduate like, I didn't know that. Now listen if they want to be, ultimately if they want to be aggressively ignorant or just affirmatively ignorant, there's not too much you can do about that. But I wouldn't want the institution to be able to say, we did not make a sincere effort to expose every student who came to our doors to this history. It shouldn't be optional. It shouldn't be optional. [APPLAUSE] - So African slavery was the road, as you've said so eloquently. But there's a lot of other plunder in the history of the United States as well. What's the role of other forms of plunder, and what are the responsibilities that we have to those and to other groups that have been either systematically or intermittently-- - Possibly reparations, very possibly reparations, you know. I'm hesitant to speak there, because again, my research and my reporting and my reading was very, very focused. But I don't believe that understanding-- like I don't believe this concept should be limited to black people. And so I would often after I published "The Case," I would get with people, they would say, well, what about the Native Americans? And I would say, I would love to read that piece. There should be a piece like that. I would love to see it. My suspicion is that anytime you have a hierarchical relationship, you're probably taking something from somebody else. That it's not incidental. It's not just a mistake. That's what I think. That does not rise to the level of a publishable piece or something like that. But I certainly don't think the concept should be limited to black people at all. Nor should it be, by the way, I just want to be really clear about this because I know this is going to come up. Nor should it be limited to African-Americans. Again, my research was very, very specific. I wanted to make the most direct and specific case I should. But I do think it's worth asking a question about the Western world as a whole. I think that's a fruitful and an important line of research. - So Ta-Nehisi, what's next? Here we are in this unexpected world after the election where, as you said a few moments ago, this case may be even more difficult to make in the context in which we now find ourselves. How do you see your writing and your mission in a sense in the months to come? Is it to continue to make the case for reparations specifically? Is it to branch out from that? - Probably not. Probably not. I'm a little confused right. I'm just being honest with you. I'm a little confused right now, not by your question or anything. But just-- you're going to have to bear with me through this. I didn't expect any of this. I certainly didn't expect all of this. It's certainly an honor to be here. I really appreciate being here. I started this as a really, relatively, at the time, obscure blog, in an attempt to understand the Civil War. It was my attempt. It was just for me. There was no bigger thing that was coming out of that. And as I read and the thing spooled out, I came to understand more and more things, and even up to the point when I wrote "The Case for Reparations," it wasn't clear to me that it would have an effect. You understand? Because reparations was and does at this very moment exist on a particular place way beyond over the window. And so the notion that it would be read and taken seriously and become as successful and some of the things I write would end up where they were, was not something that I foresaw. I always tell people writers have to prepare themselves and academics, too, not to be read, not to be read. So I was a little ill-prepared for this moment. And I think if there's anything, I'm struggling to get back, and I don't want anybody to take this the wrong way, I didn't begin this to advocate for reparations. And that's not really how writers work. I began with my own native curiosity. And I'm trying to get back to that. I think it's really, really important that I do that. I think I'm not an activist. I'm not an advocate. Doesn't mean I'm not in sympathy with activists and advocates. But I think my work is at its best when I am answering a question that is really, really burning inside of me. The question of reparations isn't too much. I think the answer is pretty clear actually. - And you wrote this extraordinary piece about President Obama and were given unparalleled access to him. You had several long interviews with him. Would you reflect on that piece just for a moment and how you see it in the trajectory of your understanding of race in America, as you think about the meaning of that first black presidency? - It was important. And just to direct it to why are we here today, I got to ask him about reparations. I mean and he talked about it. We talked about it-- if that interview went on for an hour and a half, we probably talked about reparations for 30 or 45 minutes. Although, as you know, Sandy says, [INAUDIBLE] Sandy Darity says, his answer was not to my mind sufficient, he did say, listen, you can make a case for it. That you're not crazy for saying something actually was taken, and something-- to hear an American president actually say that was tremendous to me. It was huge. Again I got to be really clear about this. When I say that it was tremendous, when I say it, it does not mean that you don't critique people. It does not mean that you back off. But I think you also need to acknowledge the steps forward that you actually make. Doesn't mean you don't need more steps, but I think you need to make those. At the same time, in the spirit of what I just said, I felt like he didn't-- how do I explain this-- he had what I would say is the conventional, and I think this is across the board from the Bernie Sanders folks, all we owe to Obama, to Hillary, all across the basic liberal understanding of race, is that the way you address it is by addressing poverty. And it's hard to get people to understand. When I did "The Case for Reparations," it is very important for me to focus on black middle class families. And that wasn't to the exclusion of black poor people. It was to say, OK, the dynamic here, the conversation here says, if these people play by the rules, everything will be OK. OK, let's go examine some people who played by the rules then. Let's see how it ended up. Let me define this-- they got robbed. They acted like it was not that the country wanted them to be successful. The country actually resented their success. And that's all, I mean that's the voice in reconstruction. It's the same thing. It's a resentment of your success. It is not that, hey, you know if you would just marry and get a job, everything will be OK. No, you marry, get a job, save your money, and you will be robbed. It sets you up to be punished. It was very, very important. Because it cuts against the dominant liberal theory that there is nothing specific about black people as a class of people in this country. That it is not a specific thing that needs to be addressed. And to his mind, he thought basically if you would construct a decent social safety net, a more liberal, more European social safety net, if you could very, very directly enforce anti-discrimination laws, I'm for all of them, for both of those things. And here's where the magic happens, then through the individual work of black people you can close the [INAUDIBLE]. And I think I said this. I was definitely thinking this. We've been working for a long time, man. I mean the work ethic is not lacking. That's not the missing component here. That's not the missing thing. And that was hard to get across. I was very, very grateful for the exchange, but at the same time it, to me, points out how far we have to go. I engaged Senator Sanders on this during the election, because if you have a candidate on the left, on the radical left who can't even see this, long way to go, a long way to go. - I'm struck as you're speaking, that in a way, Obama's presidency is another embodiment of your argument. He played by the rules. - He did. - He thought he could preside over a post-racial moment. Remember all the discussion about we're in a post-racial moment? And so what rules did he get to take advantage of? Well, he didn't get his Supreme Court nominee, because somebody said we're not playing by the rules, and the whole birther stuff. So in a sense, the argument you have, or the disagreement you had with him, I think you won based on his own, the nature of his own-- - Yeah, he would disagree with you. Yeah, and I thought so, too, by the way. And I raised that. I raised all of these incidents. And I very much said, listen. And his argument, and maybe to be a politician you ultimately have to believe this, and I don't mean that in any sort of derogatory way when I say politician. But if you're about the business of convincing people, you have to believe that, not just the majority of people are decent and non-racist, but that not even an actionable or significant minority are. And so if you talk to him, he would say, well, the problem was Fox News. You know I agree that was part of the problem. But I think I asked him, but yeah, why are they watching Fox News? There's a ready audience for this kind of argument. It came up again in the election with Hillary Clinton and the whole deplorables. And it's like wait-- we have numbers on this. We have actual data. When you have 40% of your voters who believe black people are more criminal, that's kind of deplorable, man. You know, when the majority of the coalition believes, against all evidence, that the President of the United States is a Muslim. And by Muslim, they don't simply mean thinks the Koran is very important, but means something else. That's kind of deplorable. But we can't get ourselves there. You know what I mean? We just can't. And I think what it is is maybe if we acknowledged all of it-- like we would go crazy. Maybe we just would cease to be able to function. Like it's just too-- is it really, really that bad? Was it really, really? Yes, it was really, really that bad. Because I have to think from some perspective, obviously I'm arguing for reparations, but I don't think it's sufficient to say you're ignorant. You don't know. But why? Why? Like if I'm in that position, why would I not want to know? What kind of pressures, what kind of stress does it bring upon the belief system that one functions in to actually acknowledge the debt, to say nothing of actually doing something? What does it actually do? - So we are almost at the end of our time, and I just wanted to know whether you come to all this at this moment with a sense of optimism and dynamism about where it can go? Or if you feel burdened by it in the way you-- if you knew too much, it would be unbearable. - Well, I don't feel burdened. I mean I'd rather know than not know. I'm one of those people. But I just have to say, it's extremely ironic for any historian to ask me if I feel optimistic. [LAUGHTER] I'm sorry. You can't go out and talk, right, and people say, why you don't have any hope? Have you spent any time around any historians at all? Like you're talking about me? Do you read this stuff that these people are writing? I mean Jesus. No, I'm not optimistic. I mean, how could you? I mean I'm not pessimistic. I mean it almost feels like a question of optimism or pessimism. And like it's almost beside the point. It is what it is, and people need to act, whether I think they're likely to act or not. And when I say this, and I've said this before, I root myself in the very, very real tradition of enslaved black people in this country. 1619, folks are enslaved. I'm pretty sure they know it's wrong from the moment they're enslaved. And they say it all through-- listen. 250 Years is a long time. That's a lot of generations. And you can be at certain points and look to the past, and see that all of your ancestors as far back as you can see are enslaved. And all your children and grandchildren, descendants as far forward as you can see, will be enslaved. And in the midst of that, people acted. They did things. You know, when Frederick Douglass, you know abolitionists stand up, and they say this is wrong. They're not the first people to do that. Now we focus on them because it actually turned out to be successful at the end of day. So it's easy to focus on the successes. But I'm much more interested in the failures. You know, I think about Ida B. Wells, who with so much courage argued and pushed and tried to coax the American Congress to do this anti-lynching bill. Which it did not do in her lifetime and didn't even apologize until like 2004 or something, long after Ida B. Wells. Does that mean that her actions were worthless? Does it mean it was meaningless? Certainly in hindsight, you could say, well, one should have been pessimistic about those [? processes. ?] That's beside the point. You have a moral responsibility to act, to do, to think, to know. - What a great way to stop. Thank you so much. - Thank you.



Architect Horace Trumbauer's design of the house drew heavily upon the Hôtel Labottière (1773), Bordeaux, by the Bordeaux architect Etienne Laclotte, architect of numerous hôtels particuliers in Bordeaux.[2] The similar treatment of the central bay with its recessed entrance and window on the piano nobile, and the channeled rustication are particularly salient features shared by both urban town houses.

Construction was completed in 1912, and the three members of the Duke family—James B., his wife Nanaline, and their daughter Doris—lived there with their staff part of the year. In 1952, Nanaline and Doris donated the building to New York University's Institute of Fine Arts.

Robert Venturi renovated the building for academic use in 1958. The main reception rooms on the ground floor retain many of the original furnishings and decorations, while the Institute's library and faculty offices have colonized the eight bedrooms of the second floor and the servants' quarters on the third floor.[3]

A Landmarks of New York plaque was erected in 1959 by the New York Community Trust. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.[1]

The Duke House has been utilized as a filming location. The engagement party scene in the film Arthur was filmed here in 1980/81. In March 2007, the pilot for the ABC drama Dirty Sexy Money was filmed here. The interior shots of the Barnum family home in The Greatest Showman and scenes from the upcoming film The Goldfinch (film) were recorded here in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

See also




Further reading

  • Kathrens, Michael C. (2005). Great Houses of New York, 1880-1930. New York: Acanthus Press. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-926494-34-3. 

External links

Media related to James B. Duke House at Wikimedia Commons

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