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[Music]
Maya Angelou: The one thing that con men will tell you
the only way you can be a mark is if you want something for nothing.
If you're greedy, you're set up. Perfect.
Studs Terkel: Daddy Clidell was your stepfather. Maya Angelou: Yes.
Studs Terkel: And Daddy Clidell lived by his wits.
Maya Angelou: Daddy Clidell owned pool halls and gambling houses.
Daddy Clidell knew the racket.
So he taught me how to look at cards and see if they were marked,
how to weigh dice and know if they're loaded.
Then he brought in alot of con men.
Professional con men who maybe take two marks a year.
Studs Terkel: We should point out a mark is someone who is taken.
Maya Angelou: My dad, daddy... He'd call the guys in,
"y'all, come on in here, fellows. I want you to tell my baby here
how you sold that supermarket in Dallas." [laughs]
"I'm raising this girl, I got to educate her."
So they told me not only the supermarket, but they sold a bridge in Oklahoma.
Yes. One man said that, "you see, you use the white man's bigotry against him."
Maya Angelou: There was a white man in the town...
Studs Terkel: It was Tulsa.
Maya Angelou: In Tulsa. Who had just exploited all the Indians and the blacks
and if he hated anybody more than Indians, it was blacks.
These two con men went down. They checked him out
and decided to play him against the store.
In long con that's when you set it up for two months, maybe, and spend a few thousand dollars.
You have cards made, a telephone taken in, a secretary, everything, the whole front.
One of the guys played very, very ignorant and very shuffling
and went up to the man and said, "look here."
"I got a friend who own a piece of land, you know."
See he got it because he's part Indian.” [laughs]
"Some white man, some Yankee, want to buy that land because it's got a toll bridge on it."
My father's two friends, they sent for a white con man from New York
who came down as the big real estate agent from the north, who was interested in buying this land.
The white southerner, the Oklahoman, went to the office to talk to this northern real estate man, realtor.
The northerner said, "now, listen: I'm going to get this land for maybe $70,000 or something like that"
"because the guy is ignorant. I've checked it out. My office has checked it out.
He's got the title of clear. When he signs, it's mine. But if you check it out or
you raise any kind of dust, the state will become aware of that land and that he really owns the property
and they'll move in and confiscate it. So just leave it alone.
You and I can work together."
Maya Angelou: Well, this white cracker, the southerner, the Oklahoman said,
"he knows niggers.” That’s his attitude. "So if this northerner is going to buy it for $70,000,"
"he can buy it for less than that. Get the whole thing.” [laughs].
At first the white southerner, the Oklahoman, he was brought to this Indian black American.
He went to him and he explained that he'd better have that land
and how bad the northern whites were. He talked about the damn Yankees.
So the shuffling Indian Negro said, "well, you know boss, I'd rather you have this land"
than that white man, that Yankee." So it took some time and he bought it.
Studs Terkel: For about 50,000.
Maya Angelou: That's right. Cash. Studs Terkel: Cash.
Maya Angelou: And that is not a rare… that is not rare. I mean, when I was growing up,
I used to know men, very intelligent men, who lived on maybe 2 marks a year.
Studs Terkel: Basically you're talking about the stupidity of racism.
Maya Angelou: That's right. Studs Terkel: In a way, it's almost a metaphor.
Maya Angelou: Of course because these men were born before the turn of the century.
What a black man could be by 1915, his inability to function was crystallized.
He simply had no way to move. Yet, here are men who lived by that intelligence.
Suppose... imagine if that intelligence had been able to be used constructively.
That is more constructively for the common good.
Studs Terkel: Maya Angelou, our guest. Thank you very much.
Maya Angelou: Thank you Studs. It's wonderful to see you again, to see you keep on keeping on.
Studs Terkel: I'll stay on the case.
Maya Angelou: That's it.
[Music: JAHZZAR “Airship Fury”]
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Maya Angelou on Con Men | Blank on Blank | PBS Digital Studios

301 Folder Collection
VoiceTube published on September 20, 2016
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