Bill Tatum And Freedom Of Expression

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[Truth To Power]

Many Black consumers have told me that my weekly column in the New York Amsterdam News is the only reason that they would contribute, financially, to the nation's oldest, existing newspaper.  After Wilbert "Bill" Tatum made his transition this week, Andrew Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, in bad taste, described Tatum as "anti-Semitic."

Nearly a decade ago, Bill Tatum invited me to write a weekly column in the New York Amsterdam News.  Bill reasoned that my voice should be heard even though Bill and I were not philosophical partners.  The writing of a weekly column is not an easy task.  It is expensive.  My income had ended in early 1990 and I was already carrying United African Movement on my back with no relief in sight.

To write a weekly column, which is steeped in history, law, economics, politics and critical thinking, it requires a staff.  I have been fortunate to have a volunteer staff of two persons who have tirelessly engaged in research, typing, proof-reading and editing. The same requirement exists at The New York Times except a columnist is paid a six-figure salary and he or she has access to a well-paid staff.

The opinion page in the New York Times, The Washington Post or The Los Angeles Times carries greater weight than the news sections of those newspapers. Black people should have a Black view on issues that are discussed or not discussed in the white media. Unfortunately, many Backs have their views shaped by the white media.

Neither Black newspapers nor Black-oriented media, with access to the public airwaves, will transmit my views. White advertisers have censored my views.

Bill Tatum had been the exception. He stood up to them citing the First Amendment.  Moreover, he has never sought to regulate or censor a single article that I have written for the New York Amsterdam News.

The Black community needs a regular, weekly space in the New York Amsterdam News to express a militant, community view without fear or favor.  It must be written by someone who is not willing to "run with the hares and hunt with the hounds."  The column must be willing to take on political parties, religious institutions and unpopular issues.  This is not a small favor.
Bill promised that I had a lien on this column as long as he was alive. My fate is now up in the air.  Moreover, I am unable to guarantee my own financial longevity. We have no UAM members who are credibly willing to guarantee the perpetuation of UAM, its weekly assemblies and Freedom Retreat for Boys and Girls. UAM's existence is on a short leash. My top priority is the children's, summer program.

Information is power and during these economic times information is also tantamount to survival. These economic times constitute more than a recession. Blacks are in recess.  Whites are simultaneously in a reorganizational mode.  When recess is over, Blacks will find themselves in a game of musical chairs.  The group, with no access to information, will be left standing and powerless.  

This is called "Darwinism."


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