Mike Jackson, Michael, Mississippi discussed on The United States of Anxiety
I grew up in Indiana but raised by southerners but adds people came up from Alabama through Ohio and the hills of Kentucky before they landed in the Midwest they were chasing manufacturing jobs these new opportunities open to black workers because of World War Two. So I'm a proud child of what's known as the great migration estimated six million black people who left the south when it became painfully obvious that the promises of the civil war and equal rights for all that none of that was going to become true. And because that's what I come from. I kinda relate to Michael Jackson. My Dad always said Mississippi was a great state to be from away from what he meant. This Michael is from South Bend Indiana and when we sent reporter Genie Koss to the heartland for this election. She came back with this story about his family's migration as you can tell doesn't really feel that attached to see the south well by the way. Mississippi is where I was back in episode one with the Lester family. Who made the choice to stay in the south rather than Migrate North? Yeah I mean I think in so many ways they're like his his parents are the opposite story rightly they leave. They come up north. Start this life together. And that's why Michael Jackson is like southend forever. He has a lot of good memories. Mike Jackson would tell you that his heart is in toughened. Its always been in southend and I really got to see that when we drove around. You see that triangle on across D- here listen to we used to come eat hamburgers right here at toasties every time we were here. The train's going by. He's wonderful hamburgers. Yeah Mom and dad and the three of us five of us the Jackson five all right so he's a south bend resident so he doesn't live in the city he in the suburbs and the House that he has on a golf course called. Grainger people in town or whatever so you live out in granger you know. This was kind of like the ultimate place to end up economically connell. You made it kind of deal and so when people say oh you live in green. What does that mean that means? Oh you must live in a big house with a swimming pool at that comfort at least material comfort. It's kind of his inheritance mine too. I mean I don't have the pool and all that stuff but for me in for Michael and for millions of black people who grew up in the industrial midwest our parents and grandparents made a space for us and what had been a very white world in this season of our show. We're trying to understand the history behind some of the most intense debates in this election. And we're thinking about why this country is still struggling to become a multi-racial democracy that means going all the way back to the era just after the civil war period call reconstruction when the US. I decided to be an interracial society. And maybe it's because my mind's in that space thinking about the time when this country literally expanded the definition of American that's why I've become particularly sensitive about a rhetorical device that national politicians use this implication that mid western places places like where I grew up are somehow the most authentically American communities. They talk about the heartland and a lot of the time. What they really mean swiped. Here's how we're GONNA win. Force this president to stand on that debate stage next to somebody who actually lives in a middle class neighborhood in the industrial midwest but people judge is not the only one talking about the so-called heartland Americans great river running straight through the middle of our country through the heartland of course so much of our political debate in the trump era has centered on the idea that someone needs to stand up for the forgotten rust belt for years. You Watch as your politicians apologized for America. Now you have a president who is standing up for American and we are standing up for you and it irks me because it feels like you to racists a whole other midwestern experience families like mine in Michael Jackson's and the people of the great migration who also helped create the prosperity of the twentieth century manufacturing boom. And they did it. In spite of a whole set of rules and laws intended to leave them out of that prosperity history gotTa Understand. The great migration was at least in part or results of the fact that the country gave up on reconstruction even though black people and abolitionists had one these incredible political victories. Congress didn't have the last say the Supreme Court yet and it stepped in and said Nope you see of graphic illustration of what can happen to your rights in the hands of a conservative Supreme Court. Historian Eric Phony. Whose MOST RECENT BOOK. The second founding details this history says the Supreme Court turned the fourteenth amendment into a dead letter. We've talked about the fourteenth amendment in a previous episode it's the constitutional amendment that established the idea of equal rights but Congress still had to pass laws enforcing those rights. And that's where the court stepped in I. There was a big ruling said. The amendment applied only to state governments private actors. They can do whatever they want. So that was a serious blow to federal efforts to protect the Rights Day to day of African Americans and so white businesses created whites only train. Cars refused to sell black people everything from a home to a cup of coffee. You name it all the stuff that we understand now a segregation but that still wasn't the all encompassing regime that Jim Crow became in the twentieth century. The step to Jim Crow is a further. Step most famously Plessey Ferguson. Because that's about state laws. Plessey the Ferguson. Now plus he's the case you probably know about its infamous decision that state laws can mandate segregation because separate can in fact be equal. That's the legal system. We came to know as Jim Crow and it spread all over the country including to the Midwest heartland where white people police it just as violently as they did in the south. Which is what Martin. Luther King learned when he came North to Chicago in nineteen sixty six and brought thousands of people into the streets to protest segregated housing. But I can say that I have never seen even in Mississippi and Alabama mobs pasta and of hate field as I've seen Chicago. They threw bricks and bottles. Someone hit king in the head with Iraq because they wanted to keep neighborhoods close. Oh yes it's definitely a close side and we're GonNa make it in open and we feel that we have to do it. This way and audit to bring the evil out into the open while King in the marchers were out in the streets. A lot of black families like Michael's like mine. We're fighting another way so in this episode reporter. Jimmy causes is going to tell. The story of how twenty-six Black families tried to open a closed. Society tried to get a white neighborhood to share their heartland. They wanted the best for their family so they weren't rebels but they were bound and determined to not you know to get what they want. What happened back. Then and what's left of it? The story begins like many things in the industrial midwest in a car. Do you mind if I sit in the back. When I first started reporting and southbound I went on a lot of driving tours and so what are we doing? This is where is your. Every tour is different but all of them inevitably have three things. I something related to Buddha. Judge like where he grew up or a place where my guide saw him in person. We went to the Chico's after after the parade and peak came all. Then there were groupies coming in right second. There's a vacant lot whether we're in a neighborhood that has seen better days and other vacant lot another vacant lot or driving down a street lined with historic mansions the homes we just joe passed on the contrast the economic and racial segregation. It makes everyone bring up. Two city blocks of sort of matching single family homes. People know them as the better homes better homes of South Bend. That's where they were the people who put those houses on those two city blocks. They were fighters but in a quiet and patient way not protesting in the streets. But in crowded living rooms and law offices and bank boardrooms and at one point with the help of an Olympic gold medalist in a suit and that story starts at the third place that every driving tour in south bend has a visit to this giant empty field this over here with studebaker as baths feel now but just imagine as far as you can see. There used to be a huge. You factory the factory that Mike Jackson's father moved to southbound to work in Studebaker as far as you can see up to that building and beyond studebaker and you know it's belching smoke. It's piles of cold..