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 Protestor at WCBH
 By: Wyoman Mitchell/Michigan Citizen
Detroit Black Press Under Attack
By: Bankole Thompson
Special to the NNPA from the Michigan Citizen
Originally posted 11/16/2005

DETROIT (NNPA) — An ad that ran in Detroit’s two Black newspapers, The Michigan Chronicle and The Michigan Citizen, has triggered calls for boycott of those newspapers.

The ad, which accused the media of unfair treatment against incumbent mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and favoring his opponent Freman Hendrix listed four media personalities, including Mildred Gaddis of 1200 AM WCHB as members of a “media lynch mob” against Kilpatrick.

Bishop Charles Ellis, an African-American who pastors Greater Grace Temple on Seven Mile Rd., supported Hendrix. He called in to Gaddis’ show, Inside Detroit, and said the Chronicle should be boycotted for running the ad, according to Keith Owens of the Michigan Chronicle.

Gaddis was also a strong backer of Hendrix, the loser of the mayoral race, and attacked on-air anyone who challenged her position. Gaddis, who lives in Southfield, encouraged Detroiters to leave the city if Kilpatrick was elected. Kilpatrick was re-elected with 53 percent of the vote.

“We owe a depth of gratitude, love and appreciation to the Black Press and it is my duty to fight against tyranny, censorship, fascism and economic subjugation against the Black media,” said Minister Malik Shabazz, head of the New Black Panther Nation/New Marcus Garvey Movement.

Upset with the boycott calls, Shabazz led a two-day protest against the Radio One station, which airs the Gaddis show. Cathy Hughes, one of the few African-American media moguls in the country, owns Radio One. The company is headquartered in Baltimore, Md.

“For Gaddis to have her listeners call for the boycott of two of our great Black institutions is insane and Cathy Hughes should not tolerate this,” Shabazz said. “A host on a show can make an endorsement but she cannot attack other people who disagree with her.”

Gaddis called the staff of The Michigan Citizen “shallow and uninformed,” after the paper led an investigation into Hendrix’s questionable financial dealings while he was deputy mayor under Dennis Archer. Last month, The Michigan Citizen Speaks, produced by this newspaper’s staff, was taken off the air by WCHB.

“It shows a lack of history for one Black institution to call for the destruction of another Black institution,” Shabazz said.

“We will go after their sponsors if they go after these papers.”

With placards reading, “Mildred got to go,”

“Slavery is no more,” members of the Black Panther Nation said their protest will continue until the station takes a position on the issue.

“I think it is outrageous to make the boycott call based on some political decision,” said Shaakir Wahab, one of the protesters.

Wahab brought his two young children to the protest march. He said he would stand against any attempt to marginalize institutions that are serving the community and giving people a different voice other than mainstream.

Bishop Ellis, whose church was site of Rosa Parks’ funeral, did not return calls for comments for this story.

Shabazz said he is shocked to learn that Ellis also called for a boycott.

“It shows that he has forgotten the legacy of his father. He could not sit in a $50 million church had it not been for the work of the Black media,” Shabazz said. “Calling on Black people to boycott papers that speak truth to power and him allowing [Rosa] Parks’ funeral to be at his church is a sham.”

Cliff Russell, host of the American Black Journal on WTVS [Channel 56-PBS affiliate], the longest running public affairs show in America, called the boycott calls “outrageous.”

Professor Howard Starks of Wayne State University’s department of Africana Studies said while the lynching ad might raise a lot of questions about whether Blacks at this time should be equating their struggle to times past, boycotting Black papers is a wrong strategy.

“Detroit is over 80 percent African-American in population. Who would a boycott really hurt? The people who will be affected by this are African-Americans,” Starks said. “These papers are the only true voices we have in our community. In a Black city we should be talking about how to stop our papers from struggling financially.”

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