|'If they want a war, we
will give them one'
Black media plans campaign to stop
biased news, information
by Eric Ture Muhammad
"What we have to do is control the press in our own communities,
or else we will always be victims of the most snide and vicious accounts
ever given concerning a people," said Charles Tisdale, publisher of
the Jackson Advocate.
Angered over the recently aired CBS news program 60 Minutes,
featuring the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and Ms. Attalah
Shabazz, the eldest daughter of Min. Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz,
the Mississippi publisher told The Final Call via telephone that
he intends to formally propose an aggressive campaign against media
exploitation of Blacks at the upcoming National Newspaper Publishers
Association’s (NNPA) convention in Chicago.
"I don’t think we provide our people with what we need and
what we need in our community is the truth," he continued. "I
am really peeved over this portrayal of the facts. We have to take
control of informing our communities any way that we can."
The May 14 airing of the near four-hour interview was reduced to a
twelve-minute collage of age-old distorted facts and voice-overs from
the show’s host Mike Wallace. Activists and Black media have looked
upon the latest effort to lambaste Black leadership and organizations as
a declaration of war. Their response simply put is, it is a challenge
that must be met.
"What upset me so much about the 60 Minutes interview was
that Mike Wallace has a history of hating Minister Farrakhan … and
with that interview he can do anything he wants with it. He has, in
effect, rewritten history with his televised distortions," said
Radio One talk show host Joe Madison.
Mr. Madison said that Mr. Tisdale’s call must be re-enforced with
an economic component. "I support Mr. Tisdale’s call for an
aggressive campaign, but at the same time the Black community has to
financially support our Black media outlets. We should not spend money
with any business that does not advertise with our Black radio stations
and newspapers. These are businessmen and women and they will succumb to
the pressure of the dollar."
In addition, Mr. Madison has called for all Black newspapers and
radio stations to submit Freedom of Information requests for the files
on the assassination of Minister Malcolm X to be opened.
"It does not make sense that the files regarding Malcolm X’s
death are sealed, unless the government is hiding something," said
Mr. Madison. "Even though the surviving Shabazz family does not
want the files opened, this is bigger than the Shabazz family. This is
part of COINTELPRO that destroyed not only the life of Malcolm, but
other civil rights leaders and organizations," he said.
"As Black journalists, our primary goal is to circumvent the
white media objectives for reaching our community. We cannot operate
within the same parameters as white media because they have a specific
goal. We need regular access to our leadership and in a timely
fashion," said Ms. Nayaba Arinde of New York’s Black-owned Daily
Challenge newspaper. In an effort to diffuse CBS’s aggressive
promotion of the show in New York, the May 12 edition urged its readers
to reserve judgment until after the segment aired and all sides of those
interviewed were heard. The paper also noted that this may have been a
plot to discredit the upcoming Oct. 16 Million Family March.
Activist Dick Gregory echoed this point.
"Minister Farrakhan does not deserve the kind of treatment that
has come from the 60 Minutes interview," said Mr. Gregory to The
Final Call from California. "But we must understand that this is
about—how do we stop the Million Family March (MFM)."
Mr. Gregory said the appearance of two million men on the Washington,
D.C., Federal Mall in 1995 created an atmosphere for subsequent marches—
two million women in Philadelphia and separate calls for a Million Youth
March and Million Youth Movement.
"I was at the Apollo Theater the night that Minister Farrakhan
apologized to Dr. Betty Shabazz and her family, so what new revelation
is Mike Wallace bringing forth in twelve minutes of a four hour
interview? We will see soon what the real reason is for the 60
Minutes show. It will lead to the Million Family March," he
"We have to immerse ourselves and intensify the tradition of
independent media and historical analysis," said Dr. Conrad Worrill,
chairman of the National Black United Front. "The first thing we
have to do is look at the legacy of Muhammad Speaks, The Final Call and
other independent Black news outlets, establish and institutionalize
them as we have done over the last 150 years, tell our own story."
Dr. Worrill said the mischaracterization of Black leadership and its
movements is not uncommon for white media and that history bears these
facts out if one studies the campaigns launched by the U.S. Government
in the well publicized controversies between Booker T. Washington and
W.E.B. DuBois, Malcolm X and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the
character assassination attempts on Paul Robeson, Marcus Garvey and the
Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
"We know what they are trying to do," said Dr. Worrill.
"We were not members of the Nation of Islam when Malcolm was killed
and all of us had a lot of bitter feelings over what happened to
Malcolm. But, we support Minister Farrakhan—period. And if they want a
war, we will give them one."
"Journalists provide the first draft of history. One hundred
years from now people will pull out The Final Call from the archives and
use it for historical research," Mr. Madison said. "Open the
files and what you will find is that the government was responsible for
the assassination of Malcolm X, so we have to demand it. This is not
Farrakhan’s fight, this is our fight."