No Need For Lynching

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(Dick Gregory visits UAM next week).

Fifty-five years after the Supreme Court ruled that Jim Crow in interstate travel was unconstitutional, Dr. Carter G. Woodson observed, in “The Miseducation of the Negro,� that Blacks were still accommodating Jim Crow. In other words, Blacks were, unnecessarily, cutting out back doors to accommodate white racism.

Dr. Woodson would not be surprised that, in 2006, Blacks, in New York, were still listening to Amos ‘n Andy radio even though the FCC, theoretically, allows for Black programming. This emanates from a lack of self-respect coupled with an accommodation to white supremacy.

About a decade ago, whites complained that Black talk radio, in New York City, was offensive to them. Black-owned radio stations responded by changing their formats to either playing mindless music or leasing their airwaves to Air America, which is now bankrupt. These stations are unconcerned about the psychological impact of Jim Crow radio on the Black community.

In 1946, the Supreme Court reviewed the arrest of Irene Morgan for refusing to accommodate Jim Crow. She resisted giving up her seat to a white person on a Greyhound bus traveling thorough Virginia to Baltimore, MD. The Supreme Court informed Virginia authorities that Blacks had earned the right, in 1878, to be free of Jim Crow in interstate travel.
Despite this 1946 decision, Blacks would continue to cut out a back door in interstate travel for the special benefit of white racists until the Freedom Riders embarked on integrated travel in the South in 1961. For seventy-three years, Blacks had accommodated racist desires.

The Supreme Court also had repeated itself in 1960 when a Black law student had refused to leave the white section of a private restaurant in a Virginia bus terminal. Even before Morgan v. Virginia, the Supreme Court had ruled, in the 1930, that Cong. George Mitchell of Illinois had a right to be free of Jim Crow in interstate travel.

Freedom Riders were beaten in Rock Hill, SC, firebombed in Alabama and arrested in Jackson, MS while President John F. Kennedy buried his head in the sand. This is a classic example of vigilante justice. Throughout our history, Blacks have always had to take matters into their own hands to exercise human rights.

Frederick Douglass once said, “You will never get everything you pay for but you will pay for everything you get.� This has been the story of Blacks in the United States. We have paid dearly for enjoying any semblance of human dignity and many recent immigrants are third-party beneficiaries.

Aside from voting, Black grievances, in the Supreme Court, have encompassed transportation, education, criminal law and free speech. These areas once anchored the slave codes and the legal system has found it difficult to define Black rights in a manner that is offensive to the slave codes.

Given the concern for homeland security, Blacks have to be the first casualties since homeland security is premised on plantation slavery, where security always outranked individual liberties. Militant political discourse on Black-oriented radio is a threat to national security. Thus, the guests are pre-screened.

It is not surprising that the core legal grievances of Blacks have always encompassed education, communications, transportation and criminal law. The lack of education undermines communications and the lack of both militates against Black empowerment. Flight impacts on criminal prosecutions.

These four areas are critical to the enslavement of Blacks, and white concerns are expressed in statutory laws, administrative regulations, racial profiling and selective prosecutions. Through the exercise of the franchise, Blacks are endorsing their own oppression.

Blacks were not allowed to own a radio station until 1949. It happened in Atlanta, GA. The number of Black-owned radio stations is still paltry. Jim Crow radio, featuring Amos  Andy, had already been established before 1949 and it became a paradigm for programming on Black-owned radio stations.

Within the past decade, the FCC allowed WWRL-AM to strengthen its signal and allowed WLIB-AM to broadcast twenty-four hours daily. These changes came in Trojan horses. Whites assumed control of the public airwaves on both stations. This was the quid pro quo.

The right to vote is meaningless when it is detached from the First Amendment. Voting depends on information. Today, vehicles, on the information highway, include radio, television and the Internet. Detour signs, however, are posted around Black communities. If Blacks are entitled to group representation as is expressed in Supreme Court decisions, their representatives must be allowed to navigate the information highway for the benefit of Black constituents. The programming must specifically address the unique problems of Blacks. This is being honored in the breach.

Since WLIB is hooked on gospel music and WWRL is hooked on Air America, Blacks have no space on the information highway for political discourse. Media apartheid prevents Blacks from taking their political discussions to white radio and television stations. This is worse than the separate but equal doctrine and amounts to a badge of slavery.

Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, radio and television stations must provide federal candidates reasonable access to its facilities. New York City Councilperson Yvette Clarke is a candidate for the Eleventh Congressional District and New York City Councilperson David Yassky was a primary candidate for the same office. Both were invited or appeared on WRKS-FM and WBLS-FM. They also appeared on WNBC-TV.

Ollie McClean is an independent candidate of the Freedom Party for the Eleventh Congressional District. Her media experiences have been quite different. She has been barred from commercial radio and television despite federal law which also gives her the right to equal time.

Radio and television stations are also not permitted to discriminate against an independent candidate and in favor of a Democratic candidate even though the Republican and Democratic parties are given a political duopoly over the FCC. The Supreme Court has ruled that a third party must be free of discrimination from the major parties.

On Sunday mornings, you can expect white candidates for federal offices to engage in political debates on national television. Locally, you can expect local media to embrace similar programming for the benefit of white voters. On the other hand, Black voters approach polling booths like their ancestors once approached cotton fields; that is, with no information.

In Chicago, Washington, DC and Atlanta, GA, Blacks enjoy talk radio day and night. The Black populations of these cities combined fall far short of the Black population of New York City. The market for Black talk radio certainly exists in New York. To the limited extent that any political discourse, on Black radio, exists in New York City, it is censored in violation of the First Amendment. For example, activists like Steve Cokely are routinely barred from the airwaves in New York. These activists appear on the hit lists of white supremacist organizations.

For an interesting discussion of the history of Black media in New York, I would recommend reading the doctoral dissertation of Rev. Dr. Joseph Bragg entitled Media as Preaching with a Spirit of Infirmity. Bragg was a seasoned reporter at both WLIB-AM and WRKS-FM. WLIB once had an award winning news department with Carl Ferguson at the helm and Bragg hitting the pavement.

On Wednesday, October 25, 2006, at 7:00 p.m., UAM will host Dick Gregory at the Elks Plaza, 1068 Fulton Street (nr. Classon Ave.) in Brooklyn. Take the A train to Franklin Avenue. Gregory was a write-in candidate for president in 1968. This presidential campaign was historical. For more information call 718-834-9034.

Steve Cokely will appear at the Elks Plaza on Wednesday evening, November 15, 2006.


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