Black Agenda 2012

Alton H. Maddox, jr.

Tel.: (718) 834-9034
Acting Chairman Fax : (718) 884-8241
P.O. Box 35
Bronx, NY 10471

August 30, 2012

Dave Davis
President and General Manager
7 Lincoln Square
New York, NY 10023

Re: “Here and Now”

Dear Mr. Davis:

I grew up in Georgia in the 1940’s and in the 1950’s. There were “colored” water fountains and “white” water fountains. There were also “colored” restrooms and “white” restrooms. If you had read the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you knew that something was wrong.

Under the Communications Act of 1934, there is a required slot in commercial media for public affairs programming. Sunday mornings are designated for public affairs programming and not for arts and entertainment. “Meet the Press” was launched in 1947. For more than a decade, only two Black men had appeared as guests: Dr. Ralph Bunche and Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Otherwise, the participants on “Meet the Press” were lily-white.

This was censorship. Only white public officials, white elected officials and white leaders were allowed to appear on these programs and to enjoy free speech. Although Jim Crow was alive and well from the beginning of the Communications Act of 1934, its mission gave scant and uncritical attention in the media to racially-motivated acts and crimes.

The more things change the more they remain the same. Lupus and prostate cancer fall far short of being the major killers of Black men and women as were represented on “Here and Now” on this past Sunday. It does not help for us to rely on entertainers to save us. They have no political power. This was the message, this past Sunday, on “Here and Now”. To make matters worse, it was a re-run.

From watching “Here and Now” this past Sunday, no one could have concluded that the Republican National Convention was about to happen in Tampa, FL. Black journalists and Black selected officials have also been banned from the program. “Here and Now” made no mention of it. Blacks have a strong interest in this year’s presidential campaign. The coverage of this presidential campaign from a Black perspective is in the “public interest”.

Earlier on Sunday, “Face the Nation”, “Meet the Press”, “Fox News Sunday” and “This Week” were in full bloom. Each program focused on the upcoming, Republican National Convention. The participants were nearly all-white, however. They gave us a white perspective. This is not in the “public interest”.

Sunday mornings of watching public affairs programming and, afterwards, watching “Here and Now” is like going downtown on a Saturday in Georgia in the 1950’s. The signs told it all. The racial disparity in programming on Sunday mornings today is like revisiting Jim Crow signs in the 1950’s in Georgia.

Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder both can see what is happening. Any person who does not see what is happening to us needs some new batteries. Medgar Evers might be surprised to see how far we have not traveled on the road to the “Promised Land”. Our first Black president of the United States under the U.S. Constitution was in 1800.

Citizens United v. FEC has significantly altered the political landscape of this country by adding money to the ballot box. This means that public offices are now “for sale”. The ballot box is now the auction block. The highest bidder wins the political sweepstakes.

Let’s assume that there are only two voters in a political district. One voter is white who also has wealth and access to white-oriented public affairs programming. The other voter is Black with no wealth and no access to Black-oriented public affairs programming. The white voter will always control the political district.

If Black voters once had access to “Like It Is” with some access to Black-oriented public access programming, it does not make sense to trade it in for “Here and Now” with all arts and entertainment. Public affairs programming is for voters and not simply for viewers of “arts and entertainment”.

Unlike most Blacks, I am not enrolled in the Democratic Party but I do have an interest in who occupies the White House. Black voters are overwhelmingly in favor of President Barack Obama and the “First Family” staying in the White House for another four years. It is public affairs programming and not arts and entertainment that is a political tool for Blacks.

Very truly yours,

Alton H. Maddox, Jr.

cc: Julius Genachowski
Chairman, FCC

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