Book Mini-Review: Fighting To Live, The Mumia Library Grows

Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?
Mumia Abu Jamal.
City Lights Open Media Series.
San Francisco: City Lights Books.
202 pp., $15.95.

 

The core of this book, the author’s ninth from prison and fifth collection of commentaries, is at the end: “To Protect and Serve Whom?,” a 2015 pamphlet for the Black Lives Matter movement. Abu-Jamal’s Black radical, revisionist history of the Civil Rights Movement that centralizes the blood and anger of young people is in his deceptively simple agitprop style. In that pamphlet, briefly post-scripted for the end of the Obama era (“As far as the Black Lives Movement is concerned, by raising their voices under the Obama period, they established their sound integrity—and perhaps it may be seen that it’s possible that they should have yelled louder”), he reminds his symbolic charges that movements come from oppression and will guarantee violent resistance.

In the pages that precede his extended meditation, Abu-Jamal compiles his brief commentaries about the justice system and Blacks from 1998 to 2016, a time spanning from President Bill Clinton to President-elect Trump, from Death Row to his release into general population to his fight to get the Hepatitis C treatments he finally got two months ago. He has constantly used writing to fight for life—a craft the 63-year-old began at 15 as a member of the Philadelphia branch of the Black Panther Party. The fact that his writings about police brutality in 1969 are not different from his writings in the late 20th and early 21st century does not show his intellectual stagnation, but America’s bloody consistency.

The columns list the roll call of victims in real time, from Abner Louima to Travyon Martin and beyond. This is a book containing examples of, as one column called it, “legalized police violence,” killings and abuse “you pay for….every time you pay taxes, endur[ing] this every time you vote for politicians who sell out in an instant.” To Abu-Jamal, “Americans are blind to everything but color” because “United States history is a history of denial.”

Abu-Jamal may no longer be “The Voice of the Voiceless” in the social media-era, a world now filled with scattered prophets of digital rage worldwide. However, the lifelong rebel’s compiled writings are still important because he shows the difference between progressive movements and radical movements: the latter believes that America’s systems need either radical reform or revolution. His intellect and talent remain directly in opposition to America because America has proven it is opposed to Black and brown people.

 

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My New “People’s Biography” On Ida B. Wells-Barnett……

…..is here.

 

“The Encyclopedia Of Newark Jazz,” Barbara J. Kukla’s New Book

I just got this today from the author, a former colleague of mine:

 

The Encyclopedia of Newark Jazz, set for release in late May, is Barbara Kukla’s sixth book about the people of Newark and its rich history. Her previous books include Swing City: Newark Nightlife, 1925-50, and America’s Music: Jazz in Newark.

Kukla’s latest work includes more than 300 capsule biographies of Newark jazz musicians and singers, most with photos. There are more than 400 photographs in all, many of which are historic, and a wealth of flyers, including one for an appearance by John Coltrane at a city club in 1950.

Newark’s own, Sarah Vaughan, one of the world’s most legendary jazz singers, is featured on the cover with James Moody, whose career is celebrated each November at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and the blues and jazz singer Miss Rhapsody (1902-84) to whom the book is dedicated.

“Most jazz books tend to be repetitive, so I try to dig up new stuff about artists like Sarah, Moody, Wayne Shorter and Woody Shaw,” Kukla says. “This time I interviewed Sarah’s sister and Moody’s widow; former Newark Mayor Ken Gibson, who played in a band with Wayne Shorter in his youth, and Clem Moorman, who still performs professionally at age 101. He’s the father of singer Melba Moore .

Kukla worked at The Star-Ledger for 38 years, most of that time as editor of the popular “Newark This Week” section. For information about the book or to schedule a talk, contact the author at bjkukla@aol.com or (973) 325-370. The book is $29.99 per copy.

-30-

 

My Response To Wei Tchou’s Nation Magazine-Sanctioned, Not-So-Subtle, Attack On Three Black Opinion Journalists at MTV

the-nation

My friend Angel V. Shannon showed me this and this. She gets my public thanks.

My cent-and-a-half:

1) The first thing to remember is that journalism is a TRADE. Anyone has done it, anyone can do it, and now everyone is now doing it. So there are no real “credentials” to being a journalist. Ta-Nehisi Coates is a Howard University drop-out. So, I may add, was Amiri Baraka, one of the greatest writers on Black culture that Black America produced in the 20th century. In his introduction to “The Price of The Ticket: Collected Essays,” James Baldwin talked about how he didn’t even bother going to The New York Amsterdam News because those Negro college boys would have laughed him out the office. Tchou, interestingly, ignores the two-generations-old pipeline that connected Ivy League grads to jobs like hers. (By the way, Farai Chideya is one of those people; Harvard to Newsweek by 25 by 1994.) I guess in Ivy League Land, The Harvard Crimson is “experience,” huh?

Journalism schools were created because the industry was too lazy to train anyone, but needed bodies. I have three journalism degrees, and what I’ve learned from them professionally (from the first two) I could teach in 40 hours or less. As an American journalism historian, I can tell you with some authority (ulp, there’s that word :)) that almost half of the greatest (white, male) journalists of three-quarters of the 20th century had NO degree, never less a “pedigree” (although, some, like George Plimpton and Tom Wolfe, did).

Journalism became a profession in the 20th century because of the MASSIVE need to fill space between advertising. Mass advertising had taken off because of the transfer of people from individual farms to collective cities. The mass audience/market had been born, and content was needed to draw eyeballs (later ears, then, with Tee Vee, the whole thing) to ADS. It was the same reason that

2) “Objectivity” was created. It was created after the Civil War. It was created after 100 years of American viewspapers. Why? For advertising purposes! Creating an “objective,” mainstream media allowed most people to be comfortable with buying the paper to read the advertisements. So both the newspapers owners and advertisers made a pile of money, ,and a WHOLE bunch of people got GREAT careers, travelling the nation and world for decades, with just a bachelor’s degree, decent typing skills and curisoity. They became “prestigious.” This is the real reason why “objectivity” was so cherished.

But what’s really happening here now, right?

3) The walls between mainstream journalism and opinion/literary/cultural/”alternative”/race journalism have been permanently destroyed by the Web 2.0.  The segregated world of the Black press, white press, LGBTQIA press, etc. is, now that we are well into the 21st century, getting both merged and, paradoxically, re-segregated. Dude at MTV wants his version of the old Village Voice, right? Well, the VV had both investigative reporting and identity politics writing. The Nation is crapping on the idea because it is representing all of the white male writers who now can’t get jobs–not because their jobs have been eaten by 2.0., but by these “unqualified” Black people. There ain’t enough room anymore for all of dem anymore (and their core audience is dying off): ergo, the old “unqualified” sting. It was different in the mass media era because there were enough jobs for everyone; not everyone wanted to be Norman Mailer or I.F. Stone when they could be the next Edward R. Murrow or David Halberstam. Whites had real choices, based on their priorities and proclivities. But now things that used to be done just in the “alternative” media have now become fulltime, prestigious jobs. Now, these elite white boys have to go teach English and #$%&–you know, the stuff we, as Black people, had to do all our lives, and still do (Rachel Kaadazi Ghansah, one of the greatest writers on Black American culture in the United States,  is a public schoolteacher; she’s not on welfare, begging The New York Times Magazine, where she contributes, to hire her.

I never forget that Albert Murray had to retire from TWO jobs (the U.S. Air Force and Tuskegee) before he was “discovered” in the late 1960s. It was the same time a 50-something historian and writer who worked, at various times, as a floor manager (read: janitor) for NBC and the operator of a sandwich stand, John Henrik Clarke, finally got a decent professor job at Hunter College.

So it was amusing to read this article, and to find out that Ana Marie Cox, for instance, is now “prestigious,” when I remember her as a 2004 blogger who supposedly upset the political journalism establishment! LOL! (Here’s the image from The New York Times Magazine cover, which showed her as The Next Big Thing. See, she’s white, so that means she can play a new game to get into the old game.) I remember her saying in that 2004 cover story that her goal was to be at MTV. How wonderful when white girls’ dreams come true! I’m sure Lena Dunham is proud! LOL!

In the end, then, this article is about how elite whites are pissed that they can’t get or keep anything for themselves without some “other” coming in and spoiling their frat party. So, no white boys: most of you will not be David Remnick, Thomas Friedman or the white male Gwen Ifill. Boo-hoo-hoo. And having an Asian female writer buffer your racism with an attempt as sophistication doesn’t take away this new truth.

CONGRATS To…….

herb-gets-award

….historian/journalist Herb Boyd (holding award, next to IBW president Ron Daniels on podium), who received an Institute of the Black World-21st Century Legacy Award Saturday at the IBW’s “State of the Black World” conference in Newark, N.J.

Veteran Black Press Journalist George Edward Curry, 69, Joins The Ancestors

GEC PIX

(George Edward Curry, center, at a Morgan State University forum on the Black press. Photo courtesy of Ericka Blount Danois, far left.)

Black Press Columnist George Curry Dead at 69
By Hazel Trice Edney

(TriceEdneyWire) – Pioneering Civil rights and Black political journalist George E. Curry, the reputed dean of Black press columnists because of his riveting weekly commentary in Black newspapers across the country, died suddenly of heart failure on Saturday, Aug. 20. He was 69.

Rumors of his death circulated heavily in journalistic circles on Saturday night until it was confirmed by Dr. Bernard Lafayette, MLK confidant and chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, shortly before midnight.

“This is a tragic loss to the movement because George Curry was a journalist who paid special attention to civil rights because he lived it and loved it,” Lafayette said through his spokesman Maynard Eaton, SCLC national communications director.

Curry’s connection to the SCLC was through his longtime childhood friend, confidant and ally in civil rights, Dr. Charles Steele, SCLC president. Lafayette said Dr. Steele was initially too distraught to make the announcement himself and was also awaiting notification of Curry’s immediate family.

Steele and Curry grew up together in Tuscaloosa, Ala. where Curry bloomed as a civil rights and sports writer as Steele grew into a politician and civil rights leader.

Curry began his journalism career at Sports Illustrated, The St. Louis Post Dispatch, and then The Chicago Tribune. But he is perhaps best known for his editorship of the former Emerge magazine and more recently for his work as editor-in-chief for the National Newspaper Publishers Association from 2000-2007 and again from 2012 until last year.

His name is as prominent among civil rights circles as among journalists. He traveled with the Rev. Jesse Jackson and appeared weekly to do commentary on the radio show of the Rev. Al Sharpton, “Keepin’ It Real.”

When he died he was raising money to fully fund Emerge News Online, a digital version of the former paper magazine. He had also continued to distribute his weekly column to Black newspapers.

Few details of his death were readily available Sunday morning. Reactions and memorial information will be forthcoming. The following is his edited speaker’s biography as posted on the website of America’s Program Bureau:

George E. Curry was former editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service. The former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, Curry also wrote a weekly syndicated column for NNPA, a federation of more than 200 African American newspapers.

Curry, who served as editor-in-chief of the NNPA News Service from 2001 until 2007, returned to lead the news service for a second time on April 2, 2012.

His work at the NNPA has ranged from being inside the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in the University of Michigan affirmative action cases to traveling to Doha, Qatar, to report on America’s war with Iraq.

As editor-in-chief of Emerge, Curry led the magazine to win more than 40 national journalism awards. He was most proud of his four-year campaign to win the release of Kemba Smith, a 22-year-old woman who was given a mandatory sentence of 24 1/2 years in prison for her minor role in a drug ring. In May 1996, Emerge published a cover story titled “Kemba’s Nightmare.” President Clinton pardoned Smith in December 2000, marking the end of her nightmare.

Curry was the author of Jake Gaither: America’s Most Famous Black Coach and editor of The Affirmative Action Debate and The Best of Emerge Magazine. He was editor of the National Urban League’s 2006 State of Black America report. His work in journalism has taken him to Egypt, England, France, Italy, China, Germany, Malaysia, Thailand, Cuba, Brazil, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Mexico, Canada, and Austria. In August 2012, he was part of the official US delegation and a presenter at the USBrazil seminar on educational equity in Brasilia, Brazil. George Curry is a member of the National Speakers Association and the International Federation for Professional Speakers.

His speeches have been televised on C-SPAN and reprinted in Vital Speeches of the Day magazine. In his presentations, he addresses such topics as diversity, current events, education, and the media. Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Curry graduated from Druid High School before enrolling at Knoxville College in Tennessee. At Knoxville, he was editor of the school paper, quarterback and co-captain of the football team, a student member of the school’s board of trustees, and attended Harvard and Yale on summer history scholarships.

While working as a Washington correspondent for The Chicago Tribune, he wrote and served as chief correspondent for the widely praised television documentary Assault on Affirmative Action, which was aired as part of PBS’ Frontline series. He was featured in a segment of One Plus One, a national PBS documentary on mentoring. Curry was part of the weeklong ABC News’ Nightline special, America in Black and White. He has also appeared on the CBS Evening News, ABC’s World News Tonight, NBC’s The Today Show, ABC’s 20/20 and Good Morning America, CNN, C-SPAN, BET, Fox News, MSNBC, and ESPN. After delivering the 1999 commencement address at Kentucky State University, he was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters.

In May 2000, Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, also presented Curry with an honorary doctorate after his commencement speech. Later that year, the University of Missouri presented Curry with its Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, the same honor it had earlier bestowed on such luminaries as Joseph Pulitzer, Walter Cronkite, John H. Johnson, and Winston Churchill. In 2003, the National Association of Black Journalists named Curry Journalist of the Year.

Curry became the founding director of the St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop in 1977. Seven years later, he became founding director of the Washington Association of Black Journalists’ annual high school journalism workshop. In February 1990, Curry organized a similar workshop in New York City. While serving as editor of Emerge, Curry was elected president of the American Society of Magazine Editors, the first African American to hold the association’s top office.

Before taking over as editor of Emerge, Curry served as New York bureau chief and as Washington correspondent for The Chicago Tribune. Prior to joining The Tribune, he worked for 11 years as a reporter for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and for two years as a reporter for Sports Illustrated.

Curry was chairman of the board of directors of Young DC, a regional teen-produced newspaper; immediate past chairman of the Knoxville College board of trustees; and served on the board of directors of the Kemba N. Smith Foundation and St. Paul Saturdays, a leadership training program for young African American males in St. Louis. Curry was also a trustee of the National Press Foundation, chairing a committee that funded more than 15 workshops modeled after the one he directed in St. Louis.