No entity from the St. Louis area black-American press OR black-American owned and operated radio outlets have made an attempt to obtain copies of initial police reports surrounding the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Mike Brown by Ferguson police. Not one!
No entity from the St. Louis area black-American press OR black-American owned and operated radio outlets have made an attempt to challenge the Missouri Open Records Laws concerning the events of August 9, 2014 and the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Mike Brown by Ferguson police by filing suit. Not one!
In particular, black-American radio and or “black-American formatted radio” continues to be the most egregious in the failure to step up to the plate when it is most needed to serve the community that it is supposed to serve, given the LICENSE that is has on file that is granted by the Federal Communications Commission.
In the immediate discussion about the matter of the militarization of Ferguson Missouri and the death of Michael Brown by the Ferguson Police, other than “talking about it” on the air and maintaining the normative “intellectual Novocain” that is usually broadcast daily, black-American radio and or “black-American formatted radio” did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to challenge the Ferguson Police shroud of secrecy by challenging the Missouri Open Records Laws and demanding by and through a lawsuit, for the transparency and the release of information in the matter, which would benefit the community and the general “public’s right to know”, concerning the records of the death of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014.
However, the American Civil Liberties Union sued St. Louis County and the county police Thursday August 14, 2014 to obtain copies of initial police reports surrounding the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Mike Brown by Ferguson police, according to published reports from StlToday.com.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit in St. Louis County Circuit Court after their open records request for the initial incident report of the shooting was rejected by police Wednesday, the suit says according to that published report from StlToday.com.
Let me also give credit to the National Bar Association, the oldest and largest association of African-American attorneys and judges in the United States, who according to published reports, also made a public records request.
But black-American radio and or “black-American formatted radio” did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. As a result, one can argue that black-American radio and or “black-American formatted radio” have once again failed the community that they serve in terms of the lack of real advocacy like the “general market” newspaper media outlet.
Why am I specifically calling out black-American radio and or “black-American formatted radio”? Well the answer is simple: I am a professional prodigy of the format with a strong history and a long history of employment in the format in a number of stations from around the nation in a number of urban communities.
And, I have not forgotten the long tradition of advocacy of black-American radio and or “black-American formatted radio” within the communities that they serve.
In other words, black-American radio and or “black-American formatted radio” used to stand for front line advocacy for the black-American community and would serve as an active voice.
Now, unfortunately, one could argue that it serves as an “intellectual Novocain” dispensary for the community.
I have written about this issue before, in 2012 when the issue of access to voting was at the top of mind, and I am re-stating the argument now given the current issues in Ferguson Missouri.
This dedication to the liberation by way of information for the black-American community and real time advocacy 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, AND ADVOCACY, 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 in black-American radio and or “black-American formatted radio”. But also this writer has been a black-American for 55 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 2014. Indeed, for this writer, the evidence is clear; black-American radio has an obligation to perform this “community service” and actual advocacy, 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 in this summer of 2014 with the attempt to deprive a community of a constitutional right to information and transparency of government.
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 10 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?
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. Indeed, this is not an attack on my friends and those I still hold with high regard within the black-American radio community.
This is, however, an attack on the black-American radio and or “black-American formatted radio” ownership.
Let me also acknowledge the following: the birth of the “black-American citizen journalist” is full motion now during this summer of 2014. But for the conscientious efforts of the “citizen journalist” in black-America armed with an uncompromising consciousness, a zealous awareness of right and wrong, and an over the top love for the 1st Amendment and the freedoms set forth, many of us throughout America and the world would not see the images of apparent overzealous police behavior and arguably the realities of an increase of the militarization of the local police forces within the United States.
So the question is, black-American radio and or “black-American formatted radio” why did you not also file suit against St. Louis County and the county police arguing the “public’s right to know” citing and challenging the Missouri Open Records Laws for the benefit of the community that you serve?
Joseph Haynes Davis, Esq. is a licensed Florida attorney whose law practice includes criminal defense and is located in downtown Orlando, Florida in the central business district. Davis is also an award winning broadcaster, with over 30 years of broadcast media experience as an air personality, program director, political talk show host, and operations manager at radio stations in a number of markets throughout the United States, and is the younger brother of the late trumpeter Miles Davis. Davis hails from E. St. Louis, Illinois which is part of the Metropolitan St. Louis area.