Activist Calls George Curry ‘a Minister’ to Him

Activist Calls George Curry ‘a Minister’ to Him

By Marlon A. Walker

The Rev. Al Sharpton urged mourners paying tribute to George E. Curry Saturday to keep alive Curry’s dream of reviving online his beloved Emerge magazine and said he would write a check to help.

“If ever we need a strong, independent, ethical black press, we need it now,” Sharpton said. The activist gave the eulogy before about 600 people in a packed Weeping Mary Baptist Church in Curry’s hometown of Tuscaloosa, Ala., discussing Curry with affection but maintaining that Curry called out anyone he thought was wrong, including Sharpton.

“He never let his friendship interfere with his journalism,” Sharpton said. “You had to earn a George Curry compliment.” That approach made newsmakers such as himself better, he said. “George never knew he was as much a minister to me as I was to him.”

Still, Sharpton’s relationship with black journalists was not universally affectionate. The civil rights leader told a story of Curry describing Sharpton’s relationship with certain black journalists. His relationship was fine with each, Sharpton told Curry as some were named. But when Curry asked whether his relationship had become “fine” also with then-Newsday editor and columnist Les Payne, since retired, Sharpton told him, “I don’t know if you’re going to live that long.”

In 1989, Payne had broken the story that the highly publicized tale of African American teenager Tawana Brawley, who said she was raped and abducted by a gang of white men, a case that was championed by Sharpton and had become national news, was a hoax.

Payne also reported that Sharpton was on the payrolls of the FBI and the Republican party, with the job of destabilizing the black community and “snitching” on other black leaders.

Sharpton told the crowd that Payne, who was in the church on Saturday, later introduced himself, asking whether the activist remembered him. Sharpton said he replied, “Negro, does Ali remember Joe Frazier?”

Payne told Journal-isms, “I was laughing like everyone else” at the church and maintained a professional relationship with Sharpton.

Curry was twice editor-in-chief of the news service created by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, trade organization for the black press, but left in October after NNPA halved Curry’s salary in response to financial problems.

He then turned his attention to creating an online version of Emerge magazine, for which he was editor-in-chief from 1993 until its final issue in June 2000. A GoFundMe drive had raised $16,088 of its $100,000 goal at Curry’s death Aug. 20 of heart failure, but the figure has since risen to $17,450. Curry was 69.

Elizabeth “Ann” Ragland, Curry’s longtime love, told Journal-isms that she would be talking with people this coming week about the future of the site.

Kemba Smith Pradia told mourners that as a story subject, she saw Curry’s influence. Reginald Stuart’s 1996 “Kemba’s Nightmare” detailed her sentencing under tough mandatory sentencing laws. Pradia, who had been a student at Hampton University, was “one who even prosecutors say never handled or used the cocaine she was convicted of trafficking.”

She served just over six years of a 24-year sentence before being pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2000.

“He put my no-name face on the cover,” Pradia said of Curry.

Emerge made Pradia the face of the excess of a war on drugs that left many facing sentences too tough for their offenses. Her story was told and retold by national newspapers, magazines and television shows.

“He was our hero,” she said of Curry, including her parents in the sentiment.

Benjamin Chavis, NNPA president and CEO, said Curry pushed hard to tell important stories such as Pradia’s, including the signature November 1993 cover story depicting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wearing an Aunt Jemima-like handkerchief. Several ads were pulled from the magazine in protest, Chavis told the almost exclusively black crowd.

That’s the uncompromising voice that made Emerge the nation’s best black newsmagazine for the past seven years,” Jack E. White wrote in Time magazine when Emerge was shuttered in 2000. “Ferociously militant. Deeply skeptical of white institutions and black leaders like Louis Farrakhan. Nearly devoid of humor. The kind of magazine that nearly always left you angrier at white people than you were before you read it. . . .”

Sharpton told the gathering that Curry knew that depictions like the Thomas cover wouldn’t earn him invitations to appear on shows such as CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation.” But Roland Martin, managing editor and host of TV One’s “NewsOne Now,” who livestreamed the service on his website and also addressed the crowd, said he and Curry recognized the importance of speaking with a black voice. Working for white-owned institutions was not the only way to be a journalist, Martin said.

Many of the speakers — including Martin, broadcast journalist Ed Gordon, niece Rachel Gandy, executive assistant to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley — shared stories of how Curry’s mentorship helped at different points in their careers.

“He was never reluctant to let the spotlight shine on you,” Gordon said.

Ragland shouted out the “BeBe’s Kids,” the young or aspiring journalists Curry mentored. There were many in the church, from newsrooms across the country and youth journalism programs.

“Sometimes, he’s hard on you,” Ragland said. “Tough on you. If you were strong enough and willing enough to do it the way he told you to do it, just as hard as he was on you he would be just as complimentary of you, and he would be so proud of you.”

Pictures of Curry beamed from screens in the front and back of the chapel. Condolences were read from around the world, including notes from his Druid High School class of 1965 — many of whose members were in the room — and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“The world has lost an outstanding journalist, and I have lost a friend,” Clinton wrote to the family.

Curry’s love for the craft played out in key details at the service, including an obituary that included a news release, texts and social media messages, and a letter to the editor from Ragland. Mourners received a copy of the week’s Tennessee Tribune as a keepsake. A story about Curry’s death was on the front page.

Marlon A. Walker is a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and myajc.com.

Jackson Praises ‘Freedom Fighter’ Curry

August 27, 2016

‘His Mission Was Greater Than His Job’

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson praised journalist George E. Curry Friday as one whose “mission was greater than his job” and a “freedom fighter for journalists” who rose from humble beginnings to be celebrated by admirers from South Africa to Paris to Mississippi.

Jackson spoke at a program at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Curry’s hometown. He said he arrived by private plane after a schedule that included visiting the flood zone around Baton Rouge, La.; delivering the eulogy Friday in Milwaukee for Sylville Smith, who was shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer; and particiapting at an education conference in Detroit Thursday sponsored by the A. Philip Randolph Institute.

The funeral for the champion of the black press, who died Aug. 20 at age 69 of heart failure, is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Weeping Mary Baptist Church, 2701 20th St., Tuscaloosa. A viewing on Saturday takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. The Rev. Al Sharpton is to give the eulogy. The church holds about 1,000 people, according to his fiancee, ElizabethAnn” Ragland.

“You have to negotiate with what you have to work with,” Jackson said of Curry’s early life in the Jim Crow South. Fortunately, Curry had a good mind, was physically strong, and had the courage of his convictions and a point of view.

“You will live as long as we remember you and we will not forget,” Jackson said of Curry.

Journalist Roland S. Martin of TVOne, a friend of Curry, arranged for Friday’s service to be livestreamed on his Facebook fan page and planned to do the same for the Saturday service.

CBS, Others Falsely Equate Trump, Clinton on Race

A series of racially charged accusations dominated the presidential campaign Thursday, with Democrat Hillary Clinton accusing Donald Trump of ‘taking hate groups mainstream,’ while the Republican nominee repeatedly claimed that Clinton is a ‘bigot’ toward African Americans,” John Wagner and Jenna Johnson wrote for the Washington Post.

Leonard Green's column made the front page of the Daily News in New York.

Leonard Greene’s column made the front page of the Daily News in New York.

On the “CBS Evening News” that day, substitute anchor James Brown introduced the program with a graphic that read, “The Race Turns to Race” and declared, “the presidential campaign may have hit a low point today and there are 75 days to go.”

Clinton, however, was merely restating what others have reported for months — so what’s the low point?

“RNC Spokesperson Can’t Name A Single Inaccuracy From Clinton’s Speech Linking Trump To The ‘Alt-Right,’ ” read a headline Media Matters for America. Another read, ‘Sound Of Silence’: No Republican Leaders Have Defended Trump After Clinton Linked Him To The ‘Alt-Right.’ ”

CBS was engaging in false equivalence, and it wasn’t alone. Ed Kilgore wrote Friday for New York magazine, “if major media organizations treat everything Trump says as equivalent in gravity and proximity to the truth as everything Clinton says, it could get even worse. After all, Trump throws out insults all the time, at nearly everybody. If insults equal fact-based attacks, the sheer volume of insults could win in the end. . . .”

Journal-isms asked CBS News about the “low point” comment.

Kim Godwin, senior broadcast producer who works on the “CBS Evening News,” replied, “The reporting was an accurate depiction of the day’s political activity. We presented a balanced, thorough look at the charges and counter-charges from each campaign as well as the underlying issues. While doing so, we accurately noted the level of political discourse in this presidential campaign has sunk to a new low.”

‘You’re Asian, Right? Why Are You Even Here?’

An Asian American intern at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who was thrown to the ground and punched repeatedly by a group of people as he reported on the city’s racial disturbances two weeks ago has written his reflections on the incident.

The voice that stuck in my head over the next few days, as I talked to my relatives and friends about it, belonged to a woman who’d come up to me in the afternoon scrum: ‘You’re Asian, right?‘ she said to me. ‘Why are you even here?’,” Aaron Mak, a Yale University student, wrote Tuesday for Politico Magazine.

Aaron Mak (Credit: Twitter)

Aaron Mak (Credit: Twitter)

“In one sense, the answer was obvious: I am a journalist,” Mak continued. “I’ve covered protests against police brutality before, and see it as a responsibility of the press to convey the pain and grief that can result from misuse of power.

“But as an Asian-American who’s concerned with systemic racism, it would be naive for me to pretend — especially in moments like this, when anger over the treatment of African-Americans bubbles over into violence — that race wasn’t part of why people came out to protest in Milwaukee, or part of sifting out who belongs there.

“As race and police violence become a higher-profile issue in America, many Asian-Americans are still trying to figure out where — or if — we fit in to the movement. . . . Should Asian-Americans like me count ourselves part of the same effort to fight for minority rights, or are we at odds with it? . . .”

Clinkscales Leaves Revolt After Three Years

Keith Clinkscales

Keith Clinkscales

Revolt CEO Keith Clinkscales has stepped down from his role at the company, TheWrap has learned,” Reid Nakamura reported Thursday for TheWrap.com

“In a memo sent to staffers on Thursday, Clinkscales announced his departure from the music-themed network that was founded by Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs, thanking his team and assuring them that the company remains on ‘exceptional footing.’

“Chief Operating Officer Derek Ferguson will temporarily take the reins while Revolt searches for Clinkscales’ replacement. . . .” Clinkscales did not disclose the reason for his departure.

Bloomberg Discloses Aerial Surveillance in Baltimore

The Baltimore Police Department on Wednesday acknowledged testing aerial surveillance technology over the city since January and defended the previously undisclosed program against critics,” Monte Reel reported for BloombergBusinessweek. “A police spokesman said the aerial surveillance program would continue for at least a few more weeks.

“Following a Bloomberg Businessweek report about the program published on Tuesday, several civil liberties groups expressed outrage over the surveillance, which is conducted by a private company based in Dayton, Ohio, called Persistent Surveillance Systems Inc. The national office of the ACLU in Washington issued a statement saying the program shouldn’t have been launched without a public debate. . . ”

Reel also wrote, “At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, police spokesman T.J. Smith cast the program as a natural extension of Baltimore’s CitiWatch program, which uses more than 700 ground-based cameras to keep an eye on city streets. The aerial program, however, operates on a vastly larger scale than ground-based cameras, capturing a continuously updated image of an area measuring roughly 30 square miles. The images are archived, and police can effectively follow the movements of vehicles or individuals backward and forward in time using the technology. . . .”

  • Kevin Rector and Luke Broadwater, Baltimore Sun: Report of secret aerial surveillance by Baltimore police prompts questions, outrage

U. of Chicago’s Knock of ‘Safe Spaces’ Has a Catch

The University of Chicago was widely praised this week when a letter to incoming freshmen decried so-called ‘trigger warnings’ and intellectual ‘safe spaces’ in the interest of preserving freedom of expression and intellectual curiosity,” Angie Leventis Lourgos reported Friday for the Chicago Tribune.

“Except some student leaders were quick to point out the elite South Side college does, in fact, maintain what it calls ‘safe spaces.’ The University of Chicago website includes an LGBTQ ‘Safe Space Ally Network’ where students can find haven with trained peers and faculty across campus. And one of those Safe Space allies listed on the website is Jay Ellison — the dean who authored the letter to the Class of 2020 that set off the internet firestorm. . . .”

Wendy Tokuda works during a busy day at KPIX in 1990. According to the photo caption, she's returning calls, and the bear is from a young fan. (Credit: Liz Hafalia/San Francisco Chronicle)

Wendy Tokuda works during a busy day at KPIX in 1990. According to the photo caption, she’s returning calls, and the bear is from a young fan. (Credit: Liz Hafalia/San Francisco Chronicle)

Wendy Tokuda Leaves Bay Area TV After 30 Years

I have these moments where I’m like, ‘Wow, what will this feel like?’ said Wendy Tokuda on the eve of the final television broadcast of her decades-long career in California,” Bill Disbrow reported Wednesday for sfgate.com.

“Tokuda, a Bay Area television staple for more than 30 years, retired from broadcast journalism on Friday, Aug. 19. But that night’s sign-off wasn’t the first time Tokuda has stepped out of the Bay Area spotlight.

“The veteran journalist established herself as the face of KPIX for more than a decade before leaving for a job in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. The Seattle native would later return to Bay Area living rooms as an anchor for both the local NBC and CBS affiliates, and then gave up the anchor chair in 2010.

“Now, after six years working primarily as a feature reporter, Tokuda is retiring from local television for good. . . .”
Wendy Tokuda on the eve of the final television broadcast of her decades-long career in California,” Bill Disbrow reported Wednesday for sfgate.com.

“Tokuda, a Bay Area television staple for more than 30 years, retired from broadcast journalism on Friday, Aug. 19. But that night’s sign-off wasn’t the first time Tokuda has stepped out of the Bay Area spotlight. “Tokuda, a Bay Area television staple for more than 30 years, retired from broadcast journalism on Friday, Aug. 19. But that night’s sign-off wasn’t the first time Tokuda has stepped out of the Bay Area spotlight.

“The veteran journalist established herself as the face of KPIX for more than a decade before leaving for a job in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. The Seattle native would later return to Bay Area living rooms as an anchor for both the local NBC and CBS affiliates, and then gave up the anchor chair in 2010. “The veteran journalist established herself as the face of KPIX for more than a decade before leaving for a job in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. The Seattle native would later return to Bay Area living rooms as an anchor for both the local NBC and CBS affiliates, and then gave up the anchor chair in 2010.

“Now, after six years working primarily as a feature reporter, Tokuda is retiring from local television for good. . . .” “Now, after six years working primarily as a feature reporter, Tokuda is retiring from local television for good. . . .”

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