Editorials

The Black Press and Black Self-Determination

By Richard B. Muhammad - Editor | Last updated: Sep 7, 2015 - 7:28:55 AM

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Black newspapers from across the country had an incredible opportunity recently to enjoy an exclusive interaction with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam.

Unlike so many others who crave the attention of the White-owned, corporate-dominated mainstream media, the Minister spoke forthrightly with owners and writers at some of the 200 Black-owned outlets that are part of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

While talking about the upcoming “Justice Or Else!” gathering which will mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March on Oct. 10 on the National Mall, Min. Farrakhan reminded the Black Press of its value and the need for strong, independent voices for our suffering people at this time in our history.

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A reporter from the Tri-State Defender, Alex Wilson, is shoved by an angry mob of White people near Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., Sept. 23, 1957. The fight started when nine Black students gained entrance to the school as the Army enforced integration. Photo: AP/Wide World photos
“If our story cannot be told by you, we as a people are lost,” Min. Farrakhan told the reporters, editors and publishers on the call. We need to strengthen the Black Press, he said.

We have entered a time of trouble unlike any other time and Black people are being assaulted from within and without, the Minister observed. There is no one more important than the Black press and the Black media, he said. Greater unity, greater power and strength to send reporters anywhere in the world is needed, Min. Farrakhan continued.

“We are one, we must be one with one great voice for our people,” the Minister added.

Why one great voice? One great voice is needed as we strive to inform our people in this troubled time of rampant violence and widespread despair and as we counter the lies and anti-Black propaganda that have plagued us from the beginning of our sojourn in America.

The first Black newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, was published in 1827 with the declaration: “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us. Too long has the publick been deceived by misrepresentations in things that concern us dearly.”

That plea yesterday must be a clarion cry today as our oppressors continue to try to misdefine us, misconstrue our struggle and defame our leaders. In his shameful “Open Letter to Louis Farrakhan,” published online by the Christian Examiner, Dr. Gregory Tomlin joins in a wicked tradition of defamatory journalism with his mischaracterization of the life, the work and the character of Min. Farrakhan.

His assault is not surprising and may not even reach a wide audience but such lies must be exposed and eliminated today. Those who seek to mislead and confuse our people in this critical hour cannot be spared our pens, our passion nor our Tweets.

Instead of dealing with the ongoing and historic killing of Black people—mind, body and soul—under this system of racism and White Supremacy, the so-called Christian writer stays in the age-old path of his bloody-handed predecessors.

Those “of us who live at peace with our neighbors of various races – were gobsmacked when you used words like ‘kill’ and ‘stalk,’ and then ‘kill’ again. I knew immediately what you said was newsworthy because it highlighted the increasing racial tensions between poor blacks and the police. And whether such rhetoric is the cause of those tensions or a consequence of them is irrelevant. It is my job to report what you said accurately and fairly,” said Dr. Tomlin.

First of all, in a poignant message delivered in Miami, the Minister spoke of the continued loss of Black life at the hands of law enforcement officers, but he opened the lecture with a singular focus on fratricidal conflict. He recited the litany of abuses and the deaths that we have suffered and, in particular, deaths at the hands of those carrying badges and guns.

Min. Farrakhan appealed for federal intervention in these deadly and unjust attacks and argued rightly that we cannot simply lay down and allow others to take our lives. We must defend our lives to the very death if necessary, because we have the God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“I never said kill all White people. Those are not my words. Those are the words of the mischief-makers,” said Min. Farrakhan speaking in Memphis on Aug. 20. “If you are going to quote me then quote me! But when you add your evil mischief-making to my words to make White people to think that I’m calling on Black people to kill White people to start a race war, then you’re nothing but a lying devil.”

“They’re saying these things to frighten White people and silly Black people,” said Min. Farrakhan. “They don’t want you and I to meet in Washington, D.C. to demand justice.”

The Minister was referring to “Justice Or Else!” a gathering demanding freedom, justice and equality. He urged the audience to reject fear and boldly assert the value of their own lives by combating violence from outside of the community and fratricidal violence inside the community.

Dr. Tomlin’s deceptive diatribe then repeats the lie and argues “multiple statements you’ve made in the past forty years calling for the death of ‘white devils,’ claiming that the white man’s mind must be ‘put to eternal rest,’ and ‘Crackers’ like me are forever your enemy.”

Damn lies. What the Minister has done is present Dr. Tomlin and the White World with a mirror in which it can examine itself and its own record to compare with the law and dictates of God. The Bible teaches clearly a life for a life and “as thou has done so shall it be done to you.”

Does Dr. Tomlin dismiss a divine warning in the book he claims to believe as a fairy tale? Or does that not apply to us because Black Lives Don’t Matter in the eyes of White society?

If God is just and not to be mocked, the evil sown by Whites and the mistreatment poured upon suffering Black people for centuries must come back to our wicked killers and murderers. And as Dr. Tomlin wanted to quote Dr. King, perhaps he should try this quote: “The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

Or perhaps Dr. Tomlin would like to join Dr. King in condemning the U.S. government as the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

The power to define and influence minds is an awesome power and an awesome responsibility. Every assault on our community has come with those who wish to justify and rationalize our suffering and dictate our behavior. What else would a slave master do?

But today is the day of the free Black man, the free Black woman and the free Black Press. We intend to conduct ourselves as such, despite the truth twisting and self-admitted mischief makers in the world of White media. “We wish to plead our own cause”—and we will.

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