Gil Noble, RIP: Shining Black Prince of Journalism

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[Tribute To A Mentor]

Brother Gilbert Noble.

Your Legacy is secured and will endure. You were brave. You were honest enough to admit that embracing your African heritage was a slow journey. I understand. We live in a country where historically the dominant image of Africa disseminated was extremely negative. Many people gave up the fight; it was easier to accept that Africa was the epitome of backwardness.

Your own transformative journey began when you first heard Malcolm X speaking in the 1960s. That was a different era; open segregation, discrimination, violence against those who fought oppression and demanded for civil rights and human rights for people of African ancestry.

Malcolm spoke a new language; a brave language. He told it "Like It Is." He said you must stop seeing ourselves as oppressed “minorities” waiting for liberation with the help of liberals. You must seize the day and chart your own destiny. When you first heard his words they were frightening to you.

Yet Malcolm had realized that the minute you embrace your roots, no sticks or stones can harm you; no barrage of racial insults could deter and upset you. No one could still make you feel he or she was any better than you—just because of your pigmentation.

As you got closer to Malcolm, who spoke brilliantly in "You Can't Hate the Roots of a tree without hating the Tree," (see YouTube), you realized the wisdom of his words and you too were liberated. You realized from that moment that you were part of a large family with an ancient history and culture; from the continent where all humanity started.

Yes, Malcolm eventually fell, bravely, gallantly, "Speaking Truth to Power...” But his message could not be erased and you carried on the torch and promoted African culture and history in your journalism. You were pained as many academic institutions cut back on African American and African Studies. You said “How do we know where we are going, if we don’t know where we hail from?”

That is still the question.

Many people did not know that you were a great artist, and played the piano, and that you could also draw and sculpt beautifully. Those of us who visited your offices were impressed with the art work on the walls and the pictures of your heroes, including Malcolm X—and the books about Africa, some of which I had not yet read either.

You were a caring, loving, and generous human being. You always found the time to call, at least once a week, just to say hello. You gave many gifts to many people without taking credit for it.

You interviewed great people such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Nelson Mandela, Michael Manley and all the legends of music and cinema. But you truly loved the many nameless people whose stories are rarely if ever told; here, in Africa and wherever people of African ancestry reside. I was honored to have been invited on your show more than once.

You’re a true Pan African in the tradition of W.E.B Dubois, Marcus Garvey, George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Manley, Steve Biko, Julius Nyerere, Samora Machel, C.L.R James, and many others.

Travel safely. Sup with the ancestors. You’ve earned your rest. Mission accomplished.

We in turn accept the torch...."Like It Is Lives!"

We love you brother....

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