(Shenandoah Joe) Speech for Project Media, Jackson, Mississippi, 1975 September 19 - 2

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OUR HISTORY IN WHAT IS NOW CALLED THE MEDIA GOES BACK ONLY 150 YEARS IN AMERICA--BACK TO THE ESTABLISHMENT IN 1827 OF THE FIRST BLACK OWNED NEWSPAPER, FREEDOM'S JOURNAL, PUBLISHED BY SAMUEL CORNISH AND JOHN B. RUSSWURM.

WHEN HE FORMED HIS OWN PAPER, THE NORTH STAR, 20 YEARS LATER, FREDERICK DOUGLAS WROTE IN ITS FIRST EDITORIAL WHAT OUGHT TO BECOME GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR EVERY BLACK JOURNALIST FROM THEN UNTIL NOW. HE WROTE:

"....THE MAN WHO HAS SUFFERED THE WRONG IS THE MAN TO DEMAND REDRESS, - THE MAN STRUCK IS THE MAN TO CRY OUT - AND THAT HE WHO HAS ENDURED THE CRUEL PANGS OF SLAVERY IS THE MAN TO ADVOCATE LIBERTY. IT IS EVIDENT THAT WE MUST BE OUR OWN REPRESENTATIVES AND ADVOCATES, NOT EXCLUSIVELY, BUT PECULIARLY - NOT DISTINCT FROM, BUT IN CONNECTION WITH OUR WHITE FRIENDS. IN THE GRAND STRUGGLE FOR LIBERTY AND EQUALITY NOW WAGING, IT IS MEET, RIGHT AND ESSENTIAL THAT THERE SHOULD ARISE IN OUR RANKS AUTHORS AND EDITORS, AS WELL AS ORATORS, FOR IT IS IN THESE CAPACITIES THAT THE MOST PERMANENT GOOD CAN BE RENDERED TO OUR CAUSE."

Last edit about 1 year ago by Meredith Merna
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THE VERY NAMES OF THESE EARLY PAPERS--FREEDOM'S JOURNAL AND NORTH STAR--MADE THE READER KNOW THAT THEY INTENDED TO OUTLINE THE BATTLEFIELD AND RECORD THE WAR THAT WAS SURE TO FOLLOW. AND THAT THEY DID.

THROUGH CIVIL WAR AND WORLD WARS, THROUGH DEPRESSIONS AND STAGFLATION, THE BLACK PRESS HAS SERVED TO GUIDE AND ILLUSTRATE OUR PATH.

TODAY "THE PRESS" MEANS MORE THAN NEWSPAPERS. IT MEANS RADIO AND TELEVISION, AND BLACKS INCREASINGLY ARE A LARGER AND LAREGER PART OF IT.

IN OWNERSHIP WE ARE REPRESENTED ONLY IN THE PRINTED PRESS AND SOME FEW RADIO STATIONS; IN EMPLOYMENT, OUR NUMBERS, HOWEVER SMALL, ARE GREATER NOW THAN EVER BEFORE. IN THE 150 YEARS SINCE SINCE FREEDOM'S JOURNAL FIRST APPEARED, WE HAVE MADE SOME NOTABLE ADVANCES.

WE'VE MOVED FROM THE BACK OF THE BUS TO THE FRONT, FROM THE JIM CROW GALLERY TO FRONT ROW SEATS, FROM THE TAKE OUT WINDOW TO THE LUNCH COUNTER SEAT.

AT THE SAME TIME, WE'VE MOVED FROM COTTON FIELD TO UNEMPLOYMENT LINE, FROM BEING FIRST IN WAR TO BEING LAST IN PEACE, FROM BEING LAST HIRED TO BEING FIRST FIRED, FROM SEGREGATED SCHOOLS ADMINISTERED BY US TO IGNORANT ACADEMIES ON A YELLOW SCHOOL BUS, FROM NO RIGHT TO VOTE TO NO CANDIDATE TO VOTE FOR.

FOR EVERY GAIN THERE SEEMDS TO HAVE BEEN A LOSS.

Last edit about 1 year ago by Meredith Merna
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BUT DESPITE A 10-YEAR INCREASE OF 150% IN THE NUMBER OF BLACKS HOLDING OFFICE, DESPITE THE ABILITY TO SIT OR EAT OR RIDE OR VOTE IN THE PLACES THAT FOMERLY LACKED BLACK FACES, IN A REAL WAY WE FIND OUR CONDITION UNCHANGED.

A QUICK LOOK AT EVERY STATISTIC THAT MEASURES HOW WELL OR POORLY A GROUP OF PEOPLE IS DOING-- INFANT MORALITY RATES, MEDIAN FAMILY INCOME, LIFE EXPECTANCY-- SHOWS THAT WHILE OUR GENERAL CONDITION HAS IMPROVED, OUR RELATIVE CONDITION HAS ACTUALLY WORSENED.

IT IS ALMOST AS THOUGH WE WERE CLIMBING A MOLASSES MOUNTAIN DRESSED IN SNOWSHOES, WHILE EVERYONE ELSE RIDE A RATHER LEISURELY SKI-LIFT TO THE TOP. NOW THE SKI SLOPES ARE MORE TREACHEROUS AND THE MOLASSES MELTING INTO MUD, A SARGASSO SEA OF CRIME IN HIGH PLACES, OF JOBLESSNESS FOR MANY AND HOPELESSNESS FOR MORE.

YESTERDAY'S GAINS BECOME SUSPECT. THE BUS FRONT SEAT LOSES MEANING FOR A PEOPLE WHOSE LONGEST TRIP IS LIKELY TO BE FROM THE FEUDAL SYSTEM OF THE RURAL SOUTH TO THE MECHANIZED, HIGH-RISE POVERTY OF THE NORTH.

THE RIGHT TO VOTE LOSSES MEANING FOR A PEOPLE FORCED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN TWEEDLEDUM AND TWEEDLEDEE.

THE STRUGGLES OF THE SIXTIES WERE CARRIED FORWARD AGAINST DISCRIMINATION IN HOUSING, EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION AND GOVERNMENT; BOTH BECAUSE THE VICTIMS BECAME THEIR OWN BEST CHAMPIONS AND BECAUSE THEY FOUND A SYMPATHETIC EAR IN THE BODY POLITIC.

Last edit 9 months ago by KaylaMassenburg
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BUT AS THE DEMANDS BECAME MORE STRIDENT, AS A FOREIGN WAR DRAINED OUR TEASURY AND MANHOOD, AS THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST WERE BEATEN DOWN BY BULLETS, A SHIFT OCCURRED IN THE NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS.

WE STAND NOW NEAR OUR 200TH BIRTHDAY AS A NATION--AFRAID OF WHAT THE FUTURE WILL BRING AND AFRAID TO LOOK TOO CRITICALLY AT OUR PAST, AFRAID TO ASSIGN GUILT AND RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR COMMON CONDITION.

A LOOK BACKWARD SHOWS DECADES OF MOVEMENT, AGITATION AND PROTEST WHOSE RESULTS ARE SUSPECT TODAY.

SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED IN THE UNITED STATES SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THIS DECADE.

A MONSTROUS WAR SLAUGHTERED OUR YOUNG. THOSE WHO SURVIVED THE BOMBS AND BULLETS CAME HOME TO A COUNTRY THAT YAWNED IN THEIR FACES. NO JOBS! NO SYMPATHY! NOT EVEN A PARADE! WHAT JOHNNY CAME MARCHING HOME TO THIS TIME...FROM DETROIT TO DUBUQUE...WAS A ROARING RECESSION AND AN OVERHEATED, INFLATIONARY ECONOMY. AND GUESS WHO WAS GETTING BURNED?

WATERGATE BECAME MORE THAN AN APARTMENT BUILDING TO LIVE IN. RICHARD NIXON TURNED IT INTO A SHAMEFUL NIGHT MARE WE WERE FORCED TO LIVE WITH. MORE THAN JUST A RESIDENTIAL-COMMERCIAL COMPLEX CROWDED AGAINST THE BANKS OF THE POTOMAC, WATERGATE CAME TO SYMBOLIZE FOR MILLIONS OF AMERICANS THE LENGTHS TO WHICH MORONIC MORAL MIDGETS WILL GO TO COOL THEIR POTOMAC FEVER.

Last edit 9 months ago by tiffanythai
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OUR MONEY IS BECOMING COUNTERFEIT IN WORLD MONEY MARKETS. OUR FOREIGN POLICY BEARS THE STAMP OF GIVE-AWAY KISSINGER'S KISS OF DEATH. DOMESTIC POLICY SUFFERS FOR THE LACK OF ANY ATTENTION AT ALL. SCHOOLS NO LONGER EDUCATE OUR YOUNG, AND OUR YOUNG, KNOWING NOTHING, ARE NODDING IN THE DOORWAYS OF ABANDONED CITIES WHILE HOPING THINGS WILL GO BETTER WITH "COKE". FOR BLACK AMERICA, THE TENTATIVE ECONOMIC GAINS OF THE SIXTIES ARE SLOWLY BUT SURELY SLIPPING FROM OUR GRASP. FOR BLACK AMERICA, IT IS SADLY TRUE, DESPITE THE WAY ON POVERTY WHICH WE APPARENTLY LOST, ONE-THIRD OF ALL BLACK CHILDREN STILL LIVE IN POVERTY...A FACT THAT BODES ILL FOR FUTURE BLACK GENERATIONS. IT IS STILL TRUE THAT A BLACK COLLEGEG RADUATE STANDS A GREAT CHANGE OF EARNING LESS MONEY OVER A LIFETIME OF EMPLOYMENT THAN WILL A WHITE HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT.

AFTER SUCH A HOPEFUL START ON DOMESTIC PROBLEMS IN AMERICA IN THE SIXTIES, IT HAS SEEMED OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS AS IF A PLAGUE HAS BEEN VISITED UPON US. IT IS PAINFUL I KNOW TO PLUNGE HEADLONG BACK THROUGH MODERN HISTORY TO VIEW THE STARK MISERY OF A PEOPLE ABOUT TO ENTER THIS DECADE. BUT THINK BACK WITH ME TO THE YEAR 1970. THINK BACK TO WHERE BLACK AMERICA WAS THEN SO WE CAN GAIN SOME SENSE OF WHERE WE ARE LIKELY TO BE HEADED.

"BLACK AMERICA IN 1970 WAS WEARY AND FRUSTRATED. OLD TARGETS OF ITS ASSAULTS ON RACIAL INJUSTICE WERE BECOMING MORE ELUSIVE AND WERE CHANGING THEIR SHAPES THROUGH CLEVER DISGUISES. DEMONSTRATIONS FOR PURE CIVIL RIGHTS CAUSES RESULTED IN FEWER

Last edit 9 months ago by tiffanythai
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