Remember – Call in and join this great conversation on Black Media History over two weeks! – 612-341-0980.
This week and next, TruthToTell’s ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN, joined by our colleague, DAVID CUMMINGS, of KFAI’s Monday music show, Rockin’ in Rhythm (2:00PM), will explore Black media as the messengers of information important to the Black communities they serve, Black personalities in media and their leadership roles, and the differences they represent to the dominant culture in Minnesota. Rockin' in Rhythm will continue the talk and play more early Black broadcast work later each of those days.
The history of African-Americans is, for so many of us, limited by what mainstream media and high school history books have fed us for over two centuries. Our perceptions have been twisted and shaped by what we’ve read, what we’ve heard, what we’ve watched – what we’ve read and heard and seen has either been a small percentage of the truth or completely distorted view.
For all our babble about how far we’ve come in 500 years of African enslavement, the Emancipation Proclamation and Brown vs. Board of Education 100 years later, the segregation of the United States is alive and thriving, thanks to unchecked discrimination and the maintenance of stereotypes in our popular culture.
Our schools, our housing patterns and financing practices, our health care system, our placement of polluting industries in close proximity to communities of color are evidence of the dichotomy between media images – like sports heroes or entertainment celebrities and the day-to-day treatment and belief systems of today’s American citizens. The birth of the tea party movement is little more than a reactionary cultural uprising by a massive racist element railing against our African-American President and their frustrations over an unfair and morbid economy.
In the middle of all this, staring almost 100 years ago, began a self-started industry to provide Black Americans with information and entertainment they needed to survive and thrive in a society that feared an uprising of these former slaves would displace us all. Black newspapers began to bloom, many based on the same political beliefs that had spawned the white press across the country. Papers were rarely neutral – and took on the hue of Democratic or Republican party ideology. My own great-grandfather bought an ran a Republican paper- the St. Paul Pioneer Press for the last half of the 19th Century.
Black newspapering was similar in bent, even here in the Twin Cities. How much of that tainted the news they found fit to print is something we’ll try to learn as we explore the history of Black media in Minnesota and its roots in this community and other markets dating back to their founding in the early 1900s.
Then, of course, came radio, then television. Early radio portrayals of Blacks all contributed to our continuing perceptions of Black folks and a lot of it failed to encourage neighborliness even as they entertained us.
To this day, the 10-O’Clock News is little more than crime, weather and sports, with the crimes covered throwing the cities’ Black communities in the worst possible light while Black life here and in all across America, good and bad, is left untouched by mainstream media.
• MAHMOUD EL-KATI – Professor/Historian, Macalester College; Honoree of the Macalester College Mahmoud El-Kati Distinguished Lectureship in American Studies
• TRACEY WILLIAMS- DILLARD – CEO/Publisher, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
• JANIS LANE-EWART – Executive Director, Fresh Air Radio, KFAI; host, The Collective Eye - KFAI.
• AL MCFARLANE – Publisher, Insight News; Host-Producer Conversations with Al McFarlane, KFAI Tuesdays at 9:00AM
• CHARLES HALLMAN – Veteran Reporter, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
• THORNTON C JONES – former KUXL Radio personality Pharaoh Black (This link is an actual short air check of Jones/Black in 1977)
• KELVIN QUARLES – General Manager, KMOJ Radio
First Person Radio hosts Richard LaFortune and Andy Driscoll talk with Karina L. Walters, Associate Professor and William P. and Ruth Gerberding Endowed Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Washington.
An enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Dr. Walters founded and directs the University-wide, interdisciplinary Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (IWRI). Her research focuses on historical, social, and cultural determinants of physical and mental health among American Indians and Alaska Natives.
One example of her work is the HONOR Project – a nationwide health survey that examines the impact of historical trauma, discrimination, and other stressors on the health and wellness of Native Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Two-Spirited men and women.
Dr. Walters has received multiple awards in recognition of her contribution to Native health research and in 2008 Dr. Walters was selected by Curve magazine as one of the top 20 lesbian academics in the world. She was also a Fulbright recipient and Honorary Visiting Scholar at Ngā Pae o te Maramatanga National Institute for Research Excellence in Maori Development and Advancement at the University of Auckland, NZ.