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"A New Generation Think Tank Dedicated to Promoting Justice in media"
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Black Radio, you’re on notice: Do Your Historical Duty on the issue of getting out the Vote in 2012
By Joseph Haynes Davis
The Tampa Bay Times and Salon.com are reporting that In a 630-page sworn deposition recorded over two days in late May 2012, Florida’s former Republican Party chairman Jim Greer makes the claim, under oath, that there was a systemic effort to suppress the black vote in the State of Florida. It was first reported by The Tampa Bay Times on July 26, 2012, with Salon.com expanding on the coverage of the Tampa Bay Times article on July 27, 2012. Among the allegations by Greer as reported were:
- That political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting.
- That there are apparently elements of “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies” in his party trying to control it.
- That Greer said “the party was in turmoil” as officials wanted to get rid of him and former Gov. Charlie Crist because they disagreed with some of Crist’s decisions, including the appointment of a liberal African-American judge to the Florida Supreme Court, Crist’s endorsement of John McCain for president in 2008 and the hug Crist gave President Barack Obama in 2009.
Now assuming that the reports in these two print outlets are accurate concerning the allegations of the systematic effort to suppress the black vote in Florida, then black-Americans in the state of Florida, and perhaps throughout the nation, are now unquestionably on notice of evidence that is sworn under the penalty of perjury that the black-American entitlement of the right to vote is in the process of being eroded by elements who are either members of or people who are registered as members of the party of Abraham Lincoln. And, keep in mind, these are the same people, some as reported by media outlets as “Tea Party” members and those self-titled so-called “patriots” who are, as reported assuming that the reported testimony of Former GOP Chairman Jim Greer is true, are the people who are trying to limit the liberties and rights of Americans who happen to be black-Americans; and these are the same liberties, rights and freedoms that they purport to hold so dear as “patriots” and the like who make the claim to not wanting their rights “treaded” upon or any “American’s” rights being abridged in any way.
Although I do not claim to speak for “all black-Americans” in any way, I would argue (because I have been black, male and in America for over 53 years now) that most black-Americans are well aware that this Constitutional right, the right to vote, has historically been under attack by elements connected to local and state governments in certain States, with the most prominent instances occurring in the states that historically were the ones that made up the Confederate States of America (who were of course righteously defeated in the Civil War by the Union Army.) Indeed, for some black-Americans, Jim Crow is a household name that is related to among other oppressive and unconstitutional acts, physically violent acts against black-Americans, and voter suppression and voter intimidation against black-Americans. It is a part of American history, it is unfortunately is a shameful part of the black-American experience, and it is equally a shame that the current form is being perpetuated by those who allege that they are now the true representatives of the “party of Abraham Lincoln” (who of course as President of the United States signed the Emancipation Proclamation) by and through their participation and association with the Republican Party. The aforementioned reports, assuming that the information is accurate, one could argue that the evidence appears to show that this type of anti-American behavior by way of organized voter suppression is back again in this 2012 form. The evidence, if true, is clear and published for this writer in the form of the 630-page sworn deposition recorded over two days in late May 2012, given by Florida’s former Republican Party chairman Jim Greer and the express testimony contained therein where he makes the sworn statement of the evidence by testifying that Greer had actual knowledge of a concerted effort of the suppression of the black-American vote in Florida by the Florida GOP. In our world as American citizens, one can argue that admitted sworn evidence does not lie.
So, in light of these stories reported, the question is, if this is the case, what will aid the process of informing black-America as to the information and process of making sure that the vote for black-Americans is less likely to be suppressed despite these news reports and their substances? I mean, hell, we are less than 100 days before Election Day and something needs attention. What needs attention is this issue. So I ask you the readers of this article in Constitutionally Speaking, what institution and or institutions are best equipped to let the black-American masses know when voter registration ends, in an effort to try to make sure that the vote for black-Americans is less likely to be suppressed given the election for 2012 is before us? What institution and or institutions are best equipped to let the black-American masses know that “you gotta do whacha gotta do now, and let’s get it done now” in terms disseminating information and not allow the suppression effort be successful? What institution and or institutions are best equipped to let the black-American masses know when early voting begins in an effort to try to make sure that the vote for black-Americans is less likely to be suppressed? What institution and or institutions are best equipped to let the black-American masses know what to take with you, if anything, for early voting or to vote on Election Day? Well, for this writer, the best institution equipped to do the job is black-American radio. Yes, black radio or Urban Contemporary, or Hip-Hop, Urban Adult, or black-Gospel and black-Talk. Black radio is now on notice for this writer that it is incumbent for it, in the many aforementioned formats, to step up to the plate to dedicate and give their community based broadcast “public service announcements” and “community programming time” assuming that there is any community service time left in this day and age for black-American radio, and dedicate broadcasting it with good faith and zeal to inform the community about this urgent matter at hand.
This dedication to the liberation by way of information for the black-American community where these black-American formatted outlets are located and to which they are licensed to serve is a historical duty for the format. That once unshakable duty to the community that the black-American radio outlet served “in the public’s interest, convenience and necessity” seems not to be as strong in the instant moment. For this writer, black-American radio is now on notice; and the notice is that the black-American radio which has historically dedicated itself to providing for the community this type of zealous and liberating information, is again needed in a most urgent moment, and that is the instant moment. I submit to you this argument, opinion and analysis because this writer spent 26 years of his professional life as either as an air personality, news personality, or program director. But also this writer has been a black-American for 53 plus years. I know what black-American radio does, what it has done, and what it should be doing, what it’s supposed to be doing, and what black-American radio is not doing in 2012. Indeed, for this writer, the evidence is clear; black-American radio has an obligation to perform this “community service” in order to satisfy part of its mission as a license holder of the license issued by the United States government by and through the Federal Communications Commission, and there have been few moments in the history of the black-American experience in the United States of America that are of more significance than the instant moment with the 2012 election and an attempt to deprive a community of a constitutional right.
Indeed, the history of the mission of black-American radio is well documented. One of the published articles that for this writer exemplifies the effort needed in the instant moment for black-America and the black-American radio outlets was published 8 years ago by a University of Florida researcher Brian Ward, a UF history professor who explored the themes for the first time in his book “Radio and the Struggle for Civil Rights in the South.” The book chronicled the advocacy of information that the DJ’s uttered over the airwaves to the black-American community during the civil-rights struggle of the 1960’s. That book was published in July of 2004 which, at the time, was 40 years to the month after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. The article was re-published in Newswise and first published by the University of Florida “Foundation of the Gator Nation” with that headline reading “Black Radio Played Strong Role in Shaping Civil Rights.”
According to the report, “Like Radio Free Europe was to those behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, black radio stations and disc jockeys often were as important as ministers and politicians in mobilizing support for the civil rights movement of the 1960s”, says University of Florida researcher Brian Ward.
Ward went on to say that “not only did black DJs encourage a sense of common identity, pride and purpose, they also passed along strategies on how to combat racial discrimination, defeat police roadblocks and counter disinformation from segregationist authorities.”
So the question for black-American radio is, given your rich storied history as articulated above, zealously advocating for the benefit of the community that you serve, what happened? Why does it appear to this writer, that for some stations and the management of those stations, that this effort is not zealous for the 2012 election given what is now been reported in the media cited above? I ask the same question to the National Association of Black Owned and Operated Broadcasters (NABOB), and that is, why is this not a zealous and concerted effort in light of the evidence presented above as reported by The Tampa Bay Times and Salon.com? I mean, doesn’t the fact that there is reported evidence that there are elements in this country who are trying to usurp or steal, or suppress a constitutional right that you, black-American radio who historically helped your community wrestle from Jim Crow, now need to expressly galvanize the community and get it out to vote?
I know a number of black-American radio professional personally, and all are like family to me because I was (and still consider myself) one. I know that a number of them are ready to tackle this issue, and have already begun to put into place the plan to galvanize their communities. I applaud you. But, black-American radio, this effort must be talked about to the powers that be and among you, and must be somewhat coordinated. There must be a zealous effort to be able to communicate and articulate in a recurring pattern and on-air delivery as to how to vote early, the required identification for voting, the last day for registration and the requisite requirements to do so, where the early voting locations are, where the election day locations are, the requirements of absent tee voting and ballot, and county parking restrictions that day, etc. Every piece of conceivable information concerning this matter should be compiled, organized and the communicated to your communities. And, the easy thing is that this information is readily available at your municipal (state, county, and city) supervisor of elections office.
In closing, keep in mind, the evidence is clear in the humble opinion of this writer; with the reported coverage published by The Tampa Bay Times and Salon.com, black-American radio cannot allow this to have a substantive effect on voter turnout. I mean, it’s un-American. And, in the humble opinion of this writer black-American radio is the institution that is best equipped to lead the charge to inform the black-American community on the issue of the 2012 vote and the process. Indeed, black-American radio has an honorable and storied history of doing so. It is now time for black-American radio history to repeat itself in the instant moment in 2012. And, you have the 1st Amendment along with the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments on your side.