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Part 1: Reports of Russian intel on Trump could be “incredibly damning” if true.
Guests: Gideon Resnick, Richard J. Douglas, Jim Manley
BARACK OBAMA: America's no fragile thing, but the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.
AMT: On the night of his farewell speech in Chicago, outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama focused on the strength and fragility of American democracy. The end of a day that went from the frenzy around the first of the Senate confirmation hearings to the breaking news that Russia had collected damaging information - none of it substantiated - on the incoming President Donald Trump. Mr. Trump has now taken to the podium to respond. We're there in just a moment. Also today the long view.
JOHN LEWIS: We've made a lot of progress we've made on the progress, but the scars and stains of racism still are deeply embedded in American society.
AMT: John Lewis has been a Democratic congressman for 30 years. He is the last surviving member of the so-called Big Six civil rights leaders from the 60’s. Co-author of a series of graphic novels that follow his life through years of protest and arrest and change. John Lewis on the United States after an Obama presidency. In an hour. and only in Canada.
LENORE NEWMAN: I sort of treat them like they were like “Dessert Cod”. They're fatty and rich and quite wonderful.
AMT: She is talking about that Newfoundland delicacy cod tongue. One of the many distinctive dishes that have given Canada a cuisine of its own. From elk osso bucco and butter chicken pizza to the Canadian sushi roll. Lenore Newman has been tracking our evolving Canadian identity through our taste buds. Hear her in half an hour. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current.
BARAK OBAMAFor too many of us. It's become safer to retreat into our own bubbles. We become so secure in our bubbles. That we start accepting only accepting Information whether it's true or not that fits our opinions instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.
AMT: Well, it was that kind of night. Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama using his farewell speech to warn against fake news even while breaking news about the incoming President Donald Trump was being denounced by Mr. Trump as fake news. And as you've been hearing on the news, leaked intelligence documents have emerged with unverified information suggesting the Russian government has damaging personal and financial information on Donald Trump. Mr. Trump and his spokespeople have denounced all of this as quote, “Utter garbage and fake news.” Russia has called it complete and total fabrication. And this morning at his first press conference since July the President-elect had this to say.
DONALD TRUMP: I want to thank a lot of the news organizations here today because they looked at that nonsense that was released by maybe the intelligence agencies. Who knows, but maybe the intelligence agencies which would be a tremendous blot on their record if they in fact did that? A tremendous blot because a thing like that should have never been written. It should never have been had. And it should certainly never have been released. But I want to thank a lot of the news organizations for some of whom have not treated me very well over the years. A couple in particular and they came out so strongly against that fake news and the fact that it was written about by primarily one group and one television station.
AMT: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump responding to the latest scandal surrounding his election to the White House. For more I'm joined by Gideon Resnick, he's a political reporter for The Daily Beast. He's in New York. Hello.
GIDEON RESNICK: Hi there.
AMT: Where do we start?
GIDEON RESNICK: I really don't know. This has been quite a whirlwind of a 24 hours and every time we think we descend into the strangest part of this new reality we fall farther in. But Trump you know was just giving his first press conference since you know prior to the election - even months before the election - and basically you know once again saying that a number of the issues that are surrounding both his lack of transparency with his financials and the alleged Russian involvement in hacking is sort of irrelevant because he's won and so what he's trying to do is put it behind him and move on to the presidency. That is going to begin in the next week and a half.
AMT: So let's just talk a little bit about some of the story that broke late yesterday that the stuff contained in this report is unsubstantiated. We don't have to go into those details. But the story behind this is that information from someone who was a former MI-6 British agent started to find out information about a dossier being collected?
GIDEON RESNICK: That's right. Yeah that's the origin of the dossier itself. And then as we understand it, it was passed up to intelligence communities who viewed that person - the former officer - as being a reliable source. As someone that you know they needed to take with a degree of credence for the information that was there. Now it was basically as we understand it added as an addendum to a briefing that was given to President Obama and President-elect Trump about Russian involvement in hacking campaigns in the election which was proven with much more substantial information. So this at this point is sort of an unsubstantiated claim. In fact, you know a lot of the things in there are as you alluded to sort of outrageous to the point of disbelief, but at the very least it was given the credence to provide the information to both the current president and the next president.
AMT: So this isn't a surprise to Mr. Trump that this thing exists?
GIDEON RESNICK: In a sense it shouldn't be because they were meeting last week once this had been sort of floated up channels and were given the information that was contained within there. Now what we don't know at this stage is sort of what exactly was told to them in the meeting. We don't know how verified any of the information that is within that dossier is. But it's it both alludes to some sort of growth stories and then also in more serious terms alleged contact with individuals that were working on behalf of the Russian government.
AMT: And this the former British agent was working for whom when he collected this information?
GIDEON RESNICK: Yeah, that's a tie that is a little hard to decipher through all of this. So initially the information was being collected as we understand it for individuals who were Republican operatives against Trump early in the presidential election. And so they were you know putting that together and it continued and was passed on to individuals affiliated with Hillary Clinton's campaign after that. So that's sort of where it gets a little messy in terms of you know how accurate it is and sort of how biased that information is going to become once it finally gets presented?
AMT: And now apparently some of this information has been swirling around and in the hands of various members of the media for a while. If this if some of this did go to Mr. Trump last week what's the significance of it coming out last night?
GIDEON RESNICK: Yes. The significance yesterday essentially was that CNN had a story that referenced the information and the vagueness of it and sort of how they were attempting to verify and Buzzfeed ended up having the dossier itself which had been passed around to a number of media sources and a number of media sources were chasing it and they decided to publish the entire thing. And that has sort of resulted in a little bit of flack in the past 24 hours because the claims are so salacious and at this point unverified in their entirety.
AMT: OK and so has this news conference confronted the questions that are raised? Or is it a blanket denial?
GIDEON RESNICK: It hasn't really you know at one point he suggested that because he was a germ a phobe he you know couldn't have been engaged in any of this gross conduct in Russia. And he's patently denied any sort of connections there. And at one point you know just recently he actually stopped taking questions and passed off the podium to a lawyer who is supposedly affiliated with the process of transferring his organization into the hands of his sons as a means of sort of attempting to disconnect himself from financial interests while in office.
AMT: OK. Well we have to leave it there, but Gideon Reznick. Thank you.
GIDEON RESNICK: Thank you so much for having me.
AMT: Gideon Reznick, political reporter with The Daily Beast in New York. Well as this morning began in the Atlantic Time Zone we had already reached out to two strategists Richard J. Douglas, lawyer who's worked on staff for Republican Senators Pat Roberts and the late Jesse Helms he ran on the Republican ticket in 2012 and 2016 for a Senate seat in Maryland. And Jim Manley a Democratic strategist with QGA Affairs. He's also a former Senate staffer who's worked with Senators Edward Kennedy and Harry Reid. They were both in Washington and we started with this part of it. Here's that conversation.
RICHARD J. DOUGLAS: Hello.
JIM MANLEY: Good morning.
AMT: Well, what happened last night? Who wants to start, Jim Manley?
JIM MANLEY: Well, let's put it like this. Just when you could you didn't think that it could get more weird or disturbing or dark. Last night rolls around with these explosive series of allegations. You know I'm going to be very clear and up front. At first of all, you know I obviously you know really relished reading this. And you know thought you know this was you know incredibly damaging. It, of course, still could be incredibly damaging but now my smarter senses have taken over and as you have discussed and of George discussed these are unsubstantiated. But having said that I think where there's smoke there's fire and I can't wait to read more about this unfolding story.
AMT: Richard Douglas, what's your reaction?
RICHARD J. DOUGLAS: Well first things first, our President's got a great slate of nominees. We're hearing them now they're all going to be confirmed. Victory speech was all about unity and that's what's going to happen. And I'm looking forward to a seat change in our government and we're going to see it pretty soon. What's going on with Russia this document or whatever it is it's around it's a hoax it's obviously a hoax. Whoever wrote the stuff certainly wasn't British. Probably was a creative writing intern somewhere and there's nothing there. And the idea that somehow the current administration was less beholden to Russia is absolutely hilarious. I mean they started their administration with a reset button and went downhill from there. But let's look ahead.
We've got a great slate of nominees going up for their hearings. Judge Sessions did great yesterday General Kelly too. The rest of them are going to do fine they're all going to be confirmed. And we need to start thinking about how we're going to bring this country together and put people to work because you know Donald Trump had his hearing on November 8th and he was confirmed and the American people are not are not confused Anna Maria, we know exactly what's been happening in our country and we voted for change.
AMT: OK fair enough Richard Douglass, but the FBI has said it is investigating. All of this stuff that is these papers that have been out there. There is an investigation under way. How is this going to affect the early days of Mr. Trump in your view?
RICHARD J. DOUGLAS: Not at all. It's not going to have any effect whatsoever on the hearings. It won't have any effect on Senate action on the nominees. They won't have any effect on governing. But I think what it may lead to is something our nation badly needs and that is a complete do over in the intelligence community. Our intelligence community has been in free-fall for six or eight years. I've spent a fair amount of time in it. I'm a retired Navy Reserve intelligence officer. I served in Iraq and in the Pentagon and I'm here to tell you that this is a symptom of the larger problem we need to get the intelligence community back on a solid footing make sure we pay our people what they're worth. Make sure that you know we stick to real trade craft and not this kind of leakage that we've seen in the last few months. And believe me you know it's not limited to Trump; it's been done in other administrations too. And unfortunately leaves it paints a very bad picture for the extremely professional and devoted intelligence professionals that we do have. This is a sideshow and it's almost over.
AMT: Jim Manley, How do you respond to that?
JIM MANLEY: I begin by saying if you believe most if not all of what he just said you need to get your head examined. This is an issue that's not going away anytime soon. There are serious allegations that have been made. The intelligence community has united to give a report to Congress that that accuses the Russian government of undue influence in this election. It did not say that it had an effect on the election, but it accuses them of trying to undermine this election and that is a fact and you can sit there and sit here and talk about all you want about you know about this is a smoke show or hoax or whatever, but this issue is not going away anytime soon. And it we just saw this morning there's a new poll out. Trump's numbers even before the election are in a free-fall. His allies on Capitol Hill are all over the place. His efforts to repeal Obamacare are already taken serious hits. And the more and more I know this is that more and more House and Senate Republicans are asked about these allegations against Donald Trump and his team regarding Russia and the more and more they're going to get nervous.
AMT: Richard Douglass, the Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson has come under fire from Democrats and others for having a potential conflict of interest because of his close ties with Russia. How do you see that playing out?
RICHARD J. Douglas: You know I probably did 60 nominees when I was working at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee I was chief counsel there. At the Senate Intelligence Committee I was general counsel nominees in the intelligence community. What's happening is nothing new. You know the Democrats take pot-shots at nominees. It's normal. It's part of the process.
AMT: Well, he was the chairman of Exxon and he did have ties with Russia. So it's not being made up. So how does that play out given all of this?
RICHARD J. Douglas: It seems to me that being the Chairman of Exxon is actually an advantage not a disadvantage. And you know to come back to the point yes it's important that Russia hacks the United States, but they've been doing it for eight years. And the unfortunate part is that we're only hearing about it now. What we do know is the Chinese are hacking us. They've taken 20 million personal records of federal employees including intelligence community people and nothing was done about it. So you know this all looks it looks pretty shady to me. But I come back to the main point. It's not going to affect the process. The nominees will be confirmed. Donald Trump will govern. And we're going to see a seat change in the way the United States is governed. It's long overdue. The people wanted it. He had his confirmation hearing on November 8th and he was approved. And I think we need to start looking forward and figuring out how we're going to do what he wants to do which is unify the country and put people to work.
JOHN MANLEY: And I have five Loonie's that says that he's not confirmed. It's only five. Mind you but there's any number of Republicans that are raising concerns about Tillerson in its background and his access to Russia. So we'll have to wait and see how he does in the hearing. Obviously he's got a lot of experience as a businessman per se. I think that's great. Despite the fact that he doesn't have any diplomatic skills I mean someone in that job you know you have to be experienced like that. But we'll have to wait and see there's some Republicans that are raising questions and I can't imagine very many Democrats voting him.
RICHARD J. DOUGLAS Anna Maria, I've done business in Russia and Central Asia. Diplomacy as a Foreign Service officer is a lot different from diplomacy as a businessman, but it’s diplomacy Well let me just. I'm here to tell you that anybody who has negotiated exploration rights in the Caspian or the Arctic, they know what they're doing with the Russians they know them probably far better than anybody sitting over at the State Department. And I'm a former Foreign Service officer and I say that with respect to my former colleagues.
AMT: Let me let me get back to the hearings though. Jim Manley, realistically can the Democrats express concern about these appointments realistically. Are you are you really capable of stopping anything?
JOHN MANLEY: Well, we'll have to wait and see what the hearings bring forth. Given the current rules of the Senate, the Republican majority should be enough to confirm most if not all of these guys. But there is a difference. For many years there was a general feeling on Capitol Hill that a president no matter what deserves to have his nominee absent a serious accusation of allegation in place. But unfortunately Republicans broke the rules. They have stalled stopped and delayed any number of Obama nominees including judicial appointments over the years and most egregiously they crafted a fake argument to oppose to prevent the president from having his Supreme Court nominee on the United States.
AMT: So are you talking payback?
JOHN MANLEY: Sure yes. Many Democrats will not forget what Senator Mitch McConnell the leader of the Senate did to Merrick Garland. So the deference is going out the window just like these norms customs and traditions that Republicans especially Donald Trump are breaking day in day out. That's all going more and more in the past which is too bad. I spent 21 years in the Senate. And but you know it's fracturing under pressure.
AMT: Well, you both have experience working in the Senate. Can you foresee some kind of compromise some kind of working together as you move forward?
RICHARD J. DOUGLAS: Absolutely this is Rich Douglas and just for the sake of clarity the Republicans didn't break the rules. Jim's former boss did. Harry Reid is the one that changed the rule on the filibuster, so you know let's be straight. But the deal is I think that Mitch McConnell is going to look for a way to reach across the aisle, work with the Democrats in ways that they didn't knew when they had the majority. I mean look at the Affordable Care Act as Exhibit A. And I think that's what President elect Trump wants. I think that's what the American people want. And I think that's what McConnell wants and I think we also have to keep in mind yesterday there was a Quinnipiac poll that showed that the American people have given Congress a 79 per cent disapproval rating. And I think that's the other elephant in the room up there that members have to bear in mind as they go forward. And I this is one of the reasons why I feel pretty confident that the confirmation hearings will be held.
AMT: OK, we have to leave it there. Gentlemen we are out of time. Thank you for your time.
JOHN MANLEY: Thank you.
RICHARD J. DOUGLAS: Thank you.
AMT: Richard J. Douglas, a lawyer who has worked with Republicans in the Senate including Jesse Helms and Pat Roberts. Jim Manley is a Democratic strategist with QGA affairs he's a former staffer for Democratic senators Edward Kennedy and Harry Reid. They joined us from our Washington studio.
AMT: OK, you know you have opinions on this let us know you can tweet us. We are @thecurrentcbc. Find us on Facebook or go to our website: www.cbc.ca/thecurrent and click on the “contact” link and a reminder you can always go there to download a podcast or just listen if you missed anything that you want to hear on The Current today. Stay with us. The CBC News is next. And then we have a taste of Canada for you because when it comes to food we are more than just poutine tourtiere and Nanimo bars as devilishly good as they all are. We will hear from a food researcher who says Canadian cuisine has developed far beyond a collection of regional favorites. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current on CBC Radio 1, Sirius XM and online at www.cbc.ca/thecurrent.Back To Top »
Part 2: From cod tongues to butter chicken pizza: Lenore Newman’s Canadian culinary journey.
Guest: Lenore Newman
AMT: Hello. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to the current.
AMT: Still to come:
AMT: Congressman John Lewis has been called an icon and hero of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. in half an hour he joins us to speak about his life, his new graphic novel March and his thoughts on the future of civil rights in this new era.
AMT: But first that satisfying sizzle.
GUEST: It's like the big kettle when you're dying for a cup of tea right?
GUEST: Even a few minutes is too long when you’re dying for a cod tongue.
AMT: You heard her she's dying for a cod tongue. It's about as Newfoundland a sentiment as you can get and as good a place as any to start a tour of Canadian cuisine. Today we're looking at what makes our country's food distinctive from the most traditional regional cuisine, to the new is Creoles of cultures. And one author's argument for why defining Canadian cuisine is important. But first let's go back to restaurant owner Andrea Maunder at her St. John's restaurant Bacalao which serves a dressed up version of classic Newfoundland cuisine.
ANDREA MAUNDER: So what I’m doing is just getting out some flower so that we can dredge the cod tongues with listen nice kosher salt, a little bit of fresh ground pepper and we just want to keep it really simple with cold tongues. You can go uber-fancy if you like, but they’re such a traditional thing that most Newfoundlanders are pretty nostalgic about the flavor of cod tongues. So the only other thing you might want to have with the cod tongues maybe is a bit of scrunchins. Im putting my basket in the deep fryer here. You can hear the sizzle and then there's the little jelly part. In Newfoundland it would be sacrilege to cut off the jelly part, but I do know people who do it. One thing I really love about the idea of eating cod tongues I mean obviously it was born of necessity like all Newfoundland cuisine. These days were throwing back to the time when we ate nose to tail. When you killed an animal you ate everything because that was how people survived and lived. And the cod tongues for me are the fish version of that. And what used to be a necessity course now is a delicacy. We’ve got lift off on those cod tongues. Now I'm just shaking the basket off a little bit and they are golden brown and so crispy - they're gorgeous.
AMT: Well, whether you see cod tongues as a delicious delicacy or an acquired taste. Lenore Newman wants you to consider them a vital element of Canadian cuisine. She is the Canada Research Chair in food security and environment at the University of the Fraser Valley in B.C and the author of Speaking in Tongues: a Canadian Culinary Journey. Lenore Newman joins us from Vancouver. Hello.
LENORE NEWMAN: Good morning, Anna Maria.
AMT: What side do you fall on? Are you a lover of cod tongues?
LENORE NEWMAN: I adored them and I am a fisherman's daughter, so maybe I was predisposed. but I sort of found them like they were like “Dessert Cod”, they're fatty and rich and quite wonderful.
AMT: Dessert Cod, I love it. Only in Canada. You say you're from a fishing family. What did what did that teach you about the link between culture and food?
LENORE NEWMAN: Well, I really grew up thinking everyone produce food for a living. We were a halibut family and a salmon family and I spent a lot of my youth on the water and selling fish at the dock with my father who treated his children as sort of advertisements for fish. That if you don't buy my fish my children will die. So please buy the fish and we were sort of part of the show of selling, so I think from that I really learned that food is a performance. And the people didn't buy fish from us just because they wanted it fresh. That was part of it. They wanted to interact with a real fishing family and they were always really disappointed we didn't live on the boat.
AMT: You did a lot of traveling and you research for this project didn’t you?
LENORE NEWMAN: I did. Canada's a very very large country. And so I spent a great deal of time on the road.
AMT: Were you looking at restaurant food or home cooking?
LENORE NEWMAN: Mostly restaurant food because it's the easiest way to get a handle on cuisine and home cooking does differ than the formal cuisine we present to the world. Certainly in Canada probably the meal we eat most at home is lasagna. Weirdly enough if you look at the numbers. And the food product we use the most in our food is cheese. But in our restaurants that's not what we highlight.
AMT: That’s so interesting OK. So there are a lot of Canadian foods that evoke nostalgia iconic items such as, of course, cod tongues, Nanaimo bars, tourtiere. But you argue there's a new vibrant Canadian cuisine emerging. What do you see as the current version of Canadian cuisine?
LENORE NEWMAN: Well, I think these days Canadian cuisine is really reflecting our identity as a country and it's an interesting time to be saying that given our Prime Minister just hinted we don't have a core identity. And I'm not going argue with him, but I do feel we have a bit of a core cuisine that has emerged. This idea that we really are putting forward fresh food, seasonal foods and foods coming from all sorts of cultures. I think our multiculturalism is really being reflected in our cuisine and that we're highlighting the best of our region. And it makes us look a little more like say the New Nordic cuisine that's emerged in places like Iceland and Denmark. in comparison save French cuisine which is very nationalistic in it's very identity. We're highlighting our multiculturalism through food.
AMT: You use the term Creole cuisine. What is that?
LENORE NEWMAN: Yes that a little contentious at first but I think the justification is there. Everyone is familiar usually with fusion. The idea of taking two cultures dishes and mixing them together, but Creole is deeper. It's when cultures coexist until they form a cuisine together. So the quintessential example is usually Louisiana or New Orleans Creole, where you have this blending of Spanish and French American and Indigenous foods. And I believe quite firmly that Canada has developed a bit of a creole. That we've become very adept at bringing ingredients from multicultural cuisine and mix them into our cuisine. So we say make our poutine and put butter chicken on it. Or we take a recipe that comes from another culture like say the recipe for a lassie and we make it with blueberries which does that. That uses local ingredients to replace something in a recipe from somewhere else. And this has become so natural to us. It no longer feels other. So for example when I ask my students where is sushi from? I mean they know it's from Japan but they'll also say oh it's Canadian food and Canadian sushi is a distinct thing to them.
AMT: Well in fact since you brought it up I have a clip that speaks to that. We're going to visit another restaurant Now this is a high end sushi restaurant in Vancouver. Owner and chef Hidekazu Tojo is making one of his famous rools at Tojo's. Listen to him.
HIDEKAZU TOJO: So that I show you how to outside smoke salmon inside lettuce, asparagus and lobster. I use a lobster tail looks nice and nice presentation. My philosophy use local ingredients. You know I came in 1970, around that time we don't have no chance to only use local. So people they don’t know about sushi Japan food. So I like to slowly slowly teaching Canadian people. But you eat smoked salmon and you eat lobster, so I put it together. Easy to approach, so we call “Great Canadian Roll” that looks great and tastes excellent.
AMT: There you go “The Great Canadian Roll”. Lenore Newman, how does Tojo's creation fit into the idea of a Creole Canadian cuisine?
LENORE NEWMAN: Well, it fits perfectly into it. I'm hungry now because of that. Tojo is a great example of someone who brings local ingredients into classical Japanese cuisine. It really comes together where you have that local flavor presented in a new way. And one of the best things I ate on the entire trip was actually a lobster that he did in miso and butter. And it was a lovely combination, but not one you would ever find in classical Japanese cuisine.
AMT: Now I'm getting hungry. He's had some flack from traditional Japanese chefs for all of this though hasn't he?
LENORE NEWMAN: Yes. Originally sushi was a preservation method, you didn't even eat the rice you threw it away after it fermented the fish. And, of course, it's evolved over the years. But there are people in Japan who feel what's being done to sushi around the world is wrong. But you can't really call a cuisine wrong. So you take it with a grain of salt I suppose.
AMT: What are some other Creole dishes that have become specifically Canadian?
LENORE NEWMAN: Butter chicken pizza is very popular in the Fraser Valley and actually emerges out of there's a great number of Italian-Indian restaurants in the valley on the East Coast, one of the best examples is donair and you have a Greek food reimagined, made into all sorts of wonderful things that you have after a night at the pub. A little less in Quebec, Quebecois cuisine is one of our leading cuisines and it's emerging very strongly as sort of a reclamation of a traditional cuisine. The modern Quebecois cuisine is lighter. It incorporates more vegetables and of course Toronto. You know you can throw a rock and hit an interesting Creole.
AMT: Where does the Timbit fit into this?
LENORE NEWMAN: Oh well, you know it’s a bit of an outlier. Tim Horton’s though is wonderful in that it is so very Canadian. It highlights maple. If we have a national food it is maple followed maybe by poutine, if you need an actual dish. Tim Horton’s has really captured that idea of cold mornings, hockey and brought it all together. Has their maple glazed and double double which has been called by some people sort of iconic Canadian experience. So it draws something different one of the founding cultures for sure.
AMT: How much of Creole cuisine is an urban phenomenon in Canada?
LENORE NEWMAN: To date it is largely urban, but that's not entirely the case and I was recently in Tofino. I decided I'd go for sushi. They asked me if I wanted fresh crab and I thought that's a strange question, of course, I do. And they walked out to the end of the dock and actually pulled it out of a little cage and sort of that mix with the Canadian experience of dead fresh, local being incorporated into classic dishes. So we are seeing it spread a little bit.
AMT: Hidekazu Tojo mentioned using local ingredients. What is particularly Canadian about that phenomenon?
LENORE NEWMAN: This plays a little bit on California cuisine. That’s really where the local phenomena had its more recent exposure, but historically Canadians really drew on that wild cuisine to just stay alive and to stay healthy. So if you look at the seasonality of Canadian food, rhubarb and fiddleheads play a large role in our cuisine in the east particularly. And those are things that appear very early in the spring. And another one is the role maple plays in Quebec. Often the maple syrup provides about 10 per cent of the farm's income, but it comes right at the start of the season before you've bought your seeds, your fertilizer, your fuel. So it's critical to the economy there. So we have a harsh country even here in B.C. It's not ideal for you know a bounty of year round survival. So you really have to draw heavily that local environment. I would actually argue we probably use more wild food than any other country on earth. In Canada, everyone eats wild food all the time. And I can say that because, of course, our fisheries are such a big part of the cuisine. But also you've got in Newfoundland you certainly have a lot of moose, you have right across the country game. In Quebec there's a lot of deer and right across the country berries. We're still pulling heavily on wild cuisine and it's actually a fairly big industry in some places.
AMT: Well, let's go to one more restaurant this time a First Nations restaurant in Toronto it is called Tea N Bannock. They serve dishes such as elk stew or a trout dinner, but also so-called post-contact food. Listen to Christina Nakogee and Joanne Pezzo.
CHRISTINA NAKOGEE: So traditionally you bannok has flour, salt, baking powder, water and lard.
JOANNE PEZZO: Bannok is traditionally from Scotland and we I guess have adapted and took it in and we made it ours and it's ours now.
JOANNE PEZZO: Now that I know how to make bannock it gives me a real good sense of pride and also strengthens my identity as an Aboriginal woman. I can go home and make this for my family now. I can make them bannock pudding.
CHRISTINA NAKOGEE: This place first started off selling Navajo Indian tacos. if you want to get politically correct it's Navajo or whatever, but we just say Indian tacos. But at every pow wow, you have to have an Indian taco. An Indian taco is fried bread and then you have a sauce on it and your cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion sour cream and salsa on the side. It’s delicious, you have to try that. That's one thing that you can get really anywhere in the city.
JOANNE PEZZ: So here you have trappers snack which is a fried bread or Bennok with a CVlick lunch meat on it.
CHRISTINA NAKOGEE: to me, when I see that we're trapper's snack I think of someone on the trap's line and back in the bush and they can't carry a lot of supplies with them. So something like carrying some flour and lard and some basic vases vegetables and a can of Click. You know you just open it up, cut it up, fry it together and there's your trapper's snack.
AMT: So Lenore Newman, how big of a place has Indigenous food had in Canadian cuisine to this point?
LENORE NEWMAN: Traditionally it was incredibly important, but it was hidden and settler culture has a lot to answer for in the culinary violence we did to indigenous peoples. People taken to the residential schools were not allowed to eat their cuisine and here on the West Coast the Potlatch was banned and our first Prime Minister to use food as a weapon on the prairies against the plains people. But the impact was there underlying our cuisine is Indigenous cuisine, but it's only really in the last five or ten years it's been emerging that that groups are rediscovering their cuisine and that's just a wonderful thing to see and I think we're all richer for it.
AMT: And so that might explain why restaurants serving so-called Indian tacos and trapper's snack post-contact food is controversial.
LENORE NEWMAN: Before that the very few Indigenous restaurants in Canada that sort of pretended that colonization didn't happen. And I really like Tea N Bannock because it's very honest it's like hey we're eaten Click and that's part of our culture and we're going to own that.
AMT Remind us what Click is?
LENORE NEWMAN: Click is like Spam.
AMT: Do all Canadians have access to the new Canadian cuisine you describe?
LENORE NEWMAN: Definitely not. And I do feel one of our great shames that we need to address is the north and food access and food security. And my travels in the north were not quite as extensive as I want it because it's very difficult, but I was shocked at the price of food and in many places. What what's often referred to as bush food or Indigenous food is buffering that.
AMT: A lot of Canadians probably cannot come up with one unified description of Canadian cuisine. Why did you feel it was important to define?
LENORE NEWMAN: I think I got angry at people saying oh it's just American cuisine. Or saying well the French or the Italian, they have real cuisine. We don't. And I wasn't sure when I said how I'd actually find it. The book could have easily been subtitled A search for Canadian Cuisine and culinary journey. But pretty quickly I realized there was a unifying cuisine.
AMT: It's amazing what we can learn from our food and just our travels for food.
LENORE NEWMAN: Definitely cuisine is a living - it's a living art - and it's largely oral and practical, so it can be easily damaged or lost. And I was amazed at how dedicated these restaurateurs were or these farmers or fisher people working in terrible conditions for not a lot of money and just being so proud and wanting to share it with me and show it to me.
AMT: At the end of all of this what was your most memorable meal?
LENORE NEWMAN: Certainly one that sticks in my mind is I had to go to Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal because Anthony Bourdain had been there and talked about how just punishingly good the food was. Kills you with flavor and this is Chef Martin Picard. And so I took a friend thinking well, that'll do I can try more things and I just fell in love with his pudding show mare which translates roughly as welfare pudding. And it was this rich may Maple-buttery dish. We knew we shouldn't eat the whole thing.
AMT: I know where this is going.
LENORE NEWMAN: And we’d had the foie gras poutine and entire side of beef sort of thing and we knew we should stop and we couldn't stop and we ate the whole thing. And we walked outside and I said you know if I don't walk for an hour or two, I may actually die. And so we walked around the plateau in the cold sort of thing and just sweating. It was amazing.
AMT: What's the most unusual Canadian food you've tried?
LENORE NEWMAN: I think the seal flipper pie in Newfoundland is a very interesting one. It's such a traditional dish and it's tied up with all this politics and personally, and this is a bit contentious, I think if a person is out there eating you know cows and pigs to single out Newfoundland and it's seal is a little hypocritical. But it is a very odd experience because it's a very gelatinous food. And here in the west we're not big on gelatinous food so that was a strange one.
AMT: You had toasted dolce to on the East coast?
LENORE NEWMAN: That was a wonderful experience. And it's just this hauntingly beautiful island. And they picked Dolce there which is a dark seaweed that's dried and then exported all over the world, And it's one of the most horrible harvesting techniques I've ever seen in terms of backbreaking work. You literally walk on the sea floor on these slippery rocks pulling the dolce off and it's terrible for your back in your hands. But they've done it for hundreds of years. And when I was waiting for the ferry, there were a bunch of teenagers behind the store where teenagers always are and they were toasting dolce with a lighter. And I went over and I'm like what are you doing there? And they're like oh this is how we eat this here is a little snack. And it was kind of like salty pop and it was wonderful and it was just one of those moments where you encounter something so local that you wouldn't otherwise.
AMT: And you thought they were smoking up?
LENORE NEWMAN: I totally did. You know I'm from Vancouver. I mean what would they be doing behind the store? But no they were eating dolce.
AMT: This is all very fitting because you begin your book with I think the best line ever. “Canada was born at lunch.”
LENORE NEWMAN: It really was interesting delving into the culinary history how accidental our country is. I was really surprised to find out that Upper and Lower Canada weren't even supposed to come to the Confederation meetings. They crashed them and they brought a whole bunch of food to kind of make it better. And in the book I call it sideboard diplomacy. That these Victorian men seem to only make decisions when very drunk and very full.
AMT: So who needs ammunition when you can have appetizers?
LENORE NEWMAN: Well, exactly and it's so very Canadian that we just sort of accidentally became a country over lunch.
AMT: What political message do you see in Canadian cuisine now?
LENORE NEWMAN: Of course, when I finished the book I had no idea where the world was going. And since then we've had Brexit, we've had the U.S. election and definitely a resurgence of nationalism around the world and sort of suspicion of the other and some people like have said. Canada now almost stands alone as a country fully committed to multiculturalism and our cuisine reflects that. And when we began taking Syrian refugees because, of course, I'm food obsessed. My first thought was this is going to be great it'll be like with the Vietnamese boat people being integrated well get all this great Syrian cuisine. I think we're really you know standing kind of on a bit of a precipice. Where do we retreat into nationalism or do we maintain multiculturalism in the face of incredible pressure coming from Europe and the south? So I think it's an interesting point in our cuisine and in our history.
AMT: Lenore Newman, it's fascinating to talk to you. Thank you.
LENORE NEWMAN: Oh thank you. This has been wonderful.
AMT: Lenore Newman, she's Canada research Chair in food security and environment at the University of the Fraser Valley. She is the author of Speaking in Cod Tongues: a Canadian Culinary Journey and she joined us from Vancouver. While we want to hear from you, what has been your most memorable Canadian meal? What does a Canadian cuisine mean to you? Paul McDougal in Cape Breton has already jumped the queue. He's just tweeted that rappie pie from Digby County should be on that list. So send us your stories and your photos. Post on this segment on our page on Facebook. Tweet us at @thecurrentcbc. E-mail us through our website by clicking on “contact” www.cbc.ca/thecurrent.
AMT: And coming up next how a graphic novel is sharing an old story with new relevance to a younger audience. Civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis joins us to talk about his legendary role in the civil rights movement from the 1963 march on Washington to the protests he's still leading today. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current on CBC Radio 1, Sirius XM and online on www.cbc.ca/thecurrent.Back To Top »
Part 3: “There’s nothing more powerful that the marching feet of a determined people.”
Guests: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
AMT: Hello I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current.
JOHN LEWIS: We tired of being beat up by police men. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again. How long can we be patient? How long can we be patient? We want our freedom and we want it now.
AMT: That was from August 28th of 1963, nearly 250,000 Americans had converged on Capitol Hill for what was called the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”. It was the day Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous speech and the phrase I have a dream became instantly iconic, but the man we just heard was another speaker that day a 23 year old from Alabama named John Lewis.
JOHN LEWIS: If we do not get meaningful legislation in congress. The time will come where we will not confine our march into Washington. We will march to the south through the streets of Jackson, through the streets of Cambridge, through the streets of Birmingham.
JOHN LEWIS: We will march with the spirit of love and the spirit of dignity. By the forces of our determination and our numbers, we shall splinter the segregated south into a thousand pieces and put them together in the image of God and democracy. We must say wake up America, wake up, for we cannot stop and we will not and cannot be patient.
AMT: Two years after giving that speech John Lewis would be marching once more. This time on the bridge that crossed from Selma into Montgomery, Alabama. A day known as “Bloody Sunday” when state troopers beat protesters as they marched peacefully for the right to vote. John Lewis has continued his activism. He's a long-time Democratic congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is also the co-author of a graphic memoir series that recounts his life as an activist. The trilogy is simply called March and the final installment has become the first graphic novel to win a U.S. National Book Award. Civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis joins us from Washington. And with him co-author Andrew Aydin, who is also the digital director and policy adviser to Congressman Lewis and Nate Powell, the trilogies artist who is with us from Bloomington, Indiana. Hello to you all. Congratulations on the award.
JOHN LEWIS: Thank you very much. Good morning.
AMT: I want to talk to all of you, of course, but I'm going to start with you John Lewis. Just listening to you, you don't sound like a 23-year-old?
JOHN LEWIS: Well, I was 23. I had all of my hair and a few pounds lighter back in 1963. But I grew up I grew up very fast. I grew up in rural Alabama, very poor and as a young child I tasted the bitter fruits of segregation and racial discrimination. I didn't like it at an early age - when I was 15 - I heard Rosa Parks. I heard Martin Luther King Jr. And in 1957 I met Rosa Parks, the next year I met Martin Luther King Jr. And these two individuals inspired me to find a way to get in the way. When I was growing up I would ask my mother, my father, my grandparents and my great grandparents about segregation and racial discrimination. And they would say, “that's the way it is. Don't get in the way. Don't get in trouble.” But Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and others inspired me to get in trouble and I’ve been getting in trouble ever since. What I call “good trouble” – “necessary trouble”.
AMT: When you were a boy, your uncle Otis took you on a trip driving north from your home in Pike County, Alabama. It was 1951 I think. What did you learn on that trip up north?
JOHN LEWIS: We traveled from rural Alabama to Buffalo, New York. When we arrived in the city of Buffalo, I didn't see the signs that said “white waiting” or “coloured waiting”. White men, coloured men, white women, coloured women. I saw black people and white people living side by side sitting down and eating together, using the same water fountain, sitting together on a bus that we could not do in American South.
AMT: I was really struck in your story that on that trip your uncle Otis made sure he packed enough food to get you out of the South because he knew there would be no restaurants where black people could eat?
JOHN LEWIS: Well, we could not stop along the way in Alabama or in Tennessee or in the state of Kentucky. We couldn't stop until we arrive in the state of Ohio before we made it to Buffalo.
AMT: Well John Lewis, let's shoot ahead to 1965; you were at the bridge at Selma. What had you expected when you started to cross that bridge in that march?
JOHN LEWIS: When we were walking across the bridge - even before we arrive at the bridge. We thought it was a possibility that we would be arrested and taken to jail. We wanted to walk all the way from Selma to Montgomery to dramatize to the nation and to the world that people of colour wanted to register to vote. I was prepared to be arrested and go to jail on that day I was wearing a backpack packed before it became fashionable to wear backpacks. In that backpack I had two books. I wanted to have something to read while I was in jail. I had an apple and an orange. I wanted to have something to eat. I had toothpaste and a tooth brush, since I was going to be in jail with my friends and fellow protesters. I wanted to be able to brush my teeth. We get to the highest point on the bridge and down below we saw a sea of blue, Alabama state troopers. We came within hearing distance of the state troopers. A man spoke up, a major of the Alabama state troopers and said this is an unlawful march. It will not be allowed to continue. I’ll give you three minutes to disperse and return to your homes or to your church. And the young man walking beside me from Dr. King's organization by the name of Jose William said “Major, give us a moment to kneel and pray. And the major said troopers advance, there will be no word. He said there will be no word they came toward us beating us with nightsticks and trampling us with horses, releasing that tear gas. I was the first person to be, hit was hit in the head by a state trooper with the nightstick. I had a concussion at the bridge. I thought I was going to die, I thought I saw death. I thought it was the last nonviolent protest for me.
AMT: How badly injured were you?
JOHN LEWIS: Well, I had a concussion at the bridge. I was taken to the local hospital, but before going to the hospital. I went back to the church where we had left for him and I said something like, “I don't understand it how President Johnson can send troops to Vietnam and cannot send troops to Selma Alabama to protect people who only desires to register and vote?” And the next thing I knew I was being taken to the local hospital.
AMT: Andrew Aydin, how did the idea come about then to create a graphic biography comic to tell his story?
ANDREW AYDIN: Yeah, let's call it a comic book. Let’s come out, we can be proud for it now. Now it's won the National Book Award. You know it all started in 2008. It was the summer of hope and change, Barack Obama was sweeping through the Democratic primaries. And I was serving as Congressman Lewis’s press secretary on his re-election campaign that summer. And it was coming down to the end of the campaign and folks were starting to talk about what they were going to do afterwards. You know sort of the light at the end of the tunnel. Some folks said they're going to go to the beach. Some folks said they were going to go see their parents. I said I was going to a comic book convention. And when I said that everybody laughed at me except for one person, I heard a deep voice say don't laugh. There was a comic book during the movement and it was very influential. And it was John Lewis standing up for me as he stood up for so many of us. And once I heard about that comic book Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story I went home that night, I looked it up and I just became captivated by the idea of a comic book playing a role in the movement. And after I read it, it was beautiful it was 16 pages cover to cover. It was his house 50’s style. ItIntroduced the reader to Rosa Parks to Martin Luther King to Gandhi to the philosophy of nonviolence. I just couldn't shake the idea there should be a John Lewis comic book. And so the next day or a couple of days later when we started talking about how do we teach the movement to young people how do we teach nonviolence to young people how do we help them understand what was done during the civil rights movement? I was there with the suggestion each and every time. John Lewis, you should write a comic book. And at first he was very polite and he said oh well maybe, but I couldn't accept that and I couldn't give up on the idea. And so I kept asking and I kept asking. Finally one day the congressman turned to me and he said OK, I'll do it, but only if you write it with me. And that moment changed my life.
AMT: John Lewis we're comics important to you?
JOHN LEWIS: Well, I grew up in a family that couldn't afford a subscription to the local newspaper, especially the Sunday paper. But my grandfather would get the Sunday newspaper, but the daily also and when he would finish reading the newspaper he would pass it on to us. So I sold the comic strip from time to time I read. But one of my younger brother love comics and he would sometimes just be laughing or talking to himself. But the Martin Luther King story - that comic book - was the first comic book that I read from the cover to the back page because it taught me a way out - maybe in a way in.
AMT: You and Martin Luther King Jr. seem inextricably linked?
JOHN LEWIS: Well, he became my leader. He became in a real sense a hero, but he was also like a big brother. He was a wonderful friend, I admired him. I loved him. If he hadn't been for him I don't know what would have happened to me and so many others.
AMT: Nate Powell, you were brought in to create the images for this book. Was it at all daunting as a white American to be working on to be the illustrator for this?
NATE POWELL: Any anxiety or pressure was more specific to the real life figures that I had a responsibility to depict accurately, unflinchingly. So I'd say that there is a constant mindfulness of whether it is my privilege, my background or just my identity. But I'd say that most of the most of the pressure and anxiety came from specific representations of highly recognizable and influential people.
AMT: Together you've captured some fascinating detail in this series. John Lewis, you have to tell me about your chickens when you're growing up?
JOHN LEWIS: Well growing up on a farm during the 40’s and 50’s. I fell in love with raising chickens. It became my responsibility. It was like my calling and I became very good at it as a young child, but as a little child I wanted to be a minister. When I was very young, my uncle Otis had Santa Claus bring me the bible and I learned to read the Bible. So from time to time with the help of my brothers and sisters and cousins, we would gather all of our chickens together in the chicken yard and I would start speaking of preaching. And when I look back on it some of these chickens would bow their heads, shake their heads. They never quite stated amen, but I think some of those chickens that I preached to in the 40’s and 50’s tended to listen to me much better than some of my colleagues listen to me today.
JOHN LEWIS: Some of the chickens was just a little over productive.
AMT: Andrew Aydin, this this book is based in fact. In all the research you did for the books what surprised you?
ANDREW AYDIN: The single most surprising fact is how none of the facts that we used were settled. You can read different accounts from amazing authors of the same period of time and get different stories from each one of them. And the deeper we dove, the more we found that people were interpreting or referencing different facts about the same period of time. And so when we had a question - things didn't match up - we actually had to go down to the primary documents. So we were able to go in and look at meeting minutes and after action reports and Watts line reports which was sort of this 1-800 number in Mississippi and other parts of the south where they could report violent incidents. And it was a tremendous help to us because you're showing a single moment you're not describing a feeling or portraying an emotion, but you're showing a single moment that actually happened. And so the amount of information you need to make that moment as accurate as humanly possible to give Nate the tools that he needs to draw the most accurate picture and to suss out the full breadth of those moments. Took a tremendous amount of work and was really surprising me how the history wasn't settled.
AMT: That’s so interesting and that just speaks to how politically charged it was and is?
ANDREW AYDIN: Oh, absolutely I mean I think facts themselves have always been up for debate. And I think it resonates more strongly today because we're seeing people use terms like “Law” and "State Rights” much in the same way that they did in the 1960’s and twisting facts to serve those needs. Much in the same way they did in the 1960’s.
AMT: So in your research Andrew how many how many documents? How many boxes of documents did you accumulate?
ANDREW AYDIN: I've probably got 14 or 15 just in my basement right now. But then it was also digital I mean you know we were combing through the FBI’s declassified records. They'd put a bunch out because of Freedom of Information Act requests. And so we will be going through these files that the FBI or the local authorities like the Sovereignty Commission or these different groups that we're based in Mississippi and Alabama to surveil the activists we were able to go through their documents as well which have been thankfully digitized. In fact, right up to the last just about the last scene of the book there was new facts being uncovered. Our editor In fact, found that Rosa Parks who was seen as the mother of the movement had spoken at the program on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol at the end of the Selma to Montgomery march. And in none of the other books we found that out except that we found a partial transcript of it from one of the Sovereignty Commission files.
AMT: John Lewis, why has it been important for you to tell your story now in a way that reaches young people?
JOHN LEWIS: I heard Dr. King. I met Martin Luther King JR. and I met Rosa Parks. These individuals inspired me. And not because of these two young men have spent so much time putting together March book one, book two and now book three generations of young people will grow up and it will help change America and in doing so change the world. People all over America all over the world today are reading March. When we finished book three it was so powerful so dramatic. I know the story so well because I lived it. But it moved me. I had to put it down, I kissed the book and cried. It is inspiring to me to see little children seven, eight, nine, ten years old, in high school and college students reading the books. Teachers teach in these books.
AMT: John Lewis, in the last few years, of course, we've seen the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. What has changed for black Americans in the decades since you were first marching?
JOHN LEWIS: Well we made a lot of progress. We made unbelievable progress. The signs that I saw when I was growing up, they are gone and the only places young people will see the signs today will be in a book, in a museum or on a video. But the scars and stains of racism still are deeply embedded in American society. So we have young people emerging some call themselves millennial, a new generation, but they're demanding action and they're demanding that politicians and thought leaders speak to our own circumstances. Their own conditions and they're going to help create a different movement. So our hope and our prayers that people will be guided by that philosophy and a discipline of nonviolence and be inspired by March book one, book two and book three to lead us to a better place and to create for Dr. King called “The Beloved Community” where we can respect the dignity and the worth of every human being.
AMT: You have not stopped protesting. Last year you let us sit in on the House floor. What were you protesting?
JOHN LEWIS: Well we were protesting the fact that the majority party refused to bring up a bill to deal with gun violence. We have too much violence in America, too many guns and we need to teach our people the way of peace the way of love and stop the proliferation of guns in our society.
AMT: And what did you accomplish in that sit in?
JOHN LEWIS: Well we help educate and sensitize many people. And that effort is not over. I will not be surprised that in the days and weeks and months to come that there will be other forms of action.
AMT: What do you make of the protests against Mr. Trump's choice of attorney general? Senator Jeff Sessions?
JOHN LEWIS: Well, it was gratifying to see people, young, middle-aged, older people and leaders at the NAACP local leaders in Alabama saying to Congress and to President-elect Trump that we're not going to stand by and not say anything to see this man become the attorney general of the United States of America. With his background I think there would be further protests. We need someone who's going to stand for justice stand for immigrants’ rights. Someone going to be fair.
AMT: We're talking about that. And at the same time we're talking about your trilogy and throughout the trilogy - the March trilogy - you take us back to President Obama's inauguration day January 20th of 2009. How do you look on that day now?
JOHN LEWIS: On that day here in Washington. First of all, it was a cold day was very very cold, but I think in our hearts we were warm. It was unreal. It was unbelievable to be there probably more than a million people and to see this young man taking the oath of office to become the President of the United States. I remember seeing him at that inauguration ceremony as he delivered his address. I asked him to sign something and he signed, “Because of you, John”. And when I saw him four years later a similar luncheon without me saying anything he said. “It is still because of you John”. He provided our country and people around the world a greater sense of hope. And when we leave in a few days I think we're going to miss him.
AMT: What are you thinking as you approach the next inauguration? Are you thinking about the movement that you were so instrumental in pushing forward?
JOHN LEWIS: Well, I'm probably going to try to hold back and not cry. When he was inaugurated I cried. The night that he was elected, I cried. And someone asked me why you crying so much? What are you going to do when he's inaugurated if I said if i have any ideas left, I’m going to cry some more. I cried because people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks and President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, both my mother and father and grandparents and great grandparents and hundreds and thousands and millions of people who struggled. Blacks and whites Latino Asian-American, Native American never lived to see this day.
AMT: So do you think the advances that have been made since those days when you first took to the streets are entrenched enough to withstand anyone pushing back against them now?
JOHN LEWIS: Well, I think there are forces that want to take us back, but we will not go back. We will resist. We will protest. We will organize. We will mobilize. We will not go back. You cannot turn people back when they made up their mind. Dr. King was there from time to time when we would be marching. There's nothing more powerful than the marching feet of a determined people, so all across America In a few days, people will be marching. Women march on a day after the inauguration. People will be marching in more than 100 cities in America. Standing up, speaking up, speaking out and this won't just be women and men or adults, but it will be young people. It will be students. It will be children because they’ve been reading March. They know what to do. They know how to do it. They know how to organize nonviolent protests.
AMT: John Lewis, you are the last of the six original leaders of that time who is still alive. Did you think that all these years later that there would still have to be a movement to push for rights?
JOHN LEWIS: Well, I felt and still feel today maybe we would have been much farther down that road toward the creation of Dr. King again called “The Beloved Community”. He used to speak of redeeming the soul of America. We still have a distance to go. Recent election tend to make me sad about what is happening in America but, it also gives me that stick-to-it-ness and the courage to press on and not to be patient as I said at the march on Washington, August 28, 1963. We cannot wait. We cannot be patient.
AMT: How will you work with the Trump administration? Will you be able to find middle ground?
JOHN LEWIS: Well, I think it's going to be very hard and very difficult. But I will not give up I will not give in. I would press on and have aorganized my colleagues to press on and travel around America. I just said we can do better, we must do better. We must not discriminate against people because of their history and their background. Their race, colour, place of origin, religion, sexual orientation or whatever Asa Philip Randolph, who is one of the leaders of the Big Six used to say from time to time when we were planning a march on Washington, “Maybe our foremothers and our forefathers all came to this great land in different ships. But we all in the same boat now.” And Dr. King put it another way. He said, “We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters. If not we will perish as fools.” So we cannot have someone in power to put people down because of their colour, their race, gender or because of their religion and we will stand up. We will speak out. We will resist. We will agitate.
AMT: I want to go back to that very first clip we heard of you as a young man. You were so eloquent even in your early days, but you said that we must say, “Wake up America”. Do you think America has woken up?
JOHN LEWIS: I think America is in that process of waking up. I think the election this past November shocked hundreds and thousands and millions of American and we will never be the same.
AMT: Gentlemen, we have to leave it there. Thank you all of you for your thoughts today.
JOHN LEWIS, ANDREW AYDIN, NATE POWEL: Thank you very much.
AMT: That is John Lewis U.S. congressman and iconic figure of the American civil rights movement. He and Andrew Aydin co-wrote March, an award winning graphic novel trilogy. They were in Washington. Nate Powell is the trilogy’s artist. He joined us from Bloomington, Indiana. That's our program for today stay with Radio one for q Tom Power is speaking to Kelly Mantle about making Oscar's history as the first actor eligible to be submitted in both male and female acting categories. Critics say Kelly Mantle has a next to zero chance of an Oscar winning performance in the movie Confessions of a womanizer. But the recognition of gender fluidity is a ground-breaking moment. Tom will have that conversation right after the news. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti, thank you for listening to The Current.
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