THE GANTT REPORT, by Lucius Gantt
I began my media career at 17 years old when I was hired by WSB-TV, Atlanta’s largest and most famous television station.
The year was 1968. At that time, I didn’t know I would have a long media career, I just wanted a job. After graduating from high school, my mother told me, “You have two weeks to celebrate, after that, you have to give me $15 a week to stay here.”
When WSB hired me, I didn’t have a journalism degree. In fact, there were about 30 employees in the newsroom and only two of them studied journalism.
What I did have was street smarts.
You see, in 1968 Atlanta reacted to the death of its native son, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with bricks, bullets and Molotov cocktails.
My neighborhood, Fourth Ward, was more violent than any community in the ATL.
The WSB-TV newsman covering the riots was pelted with bricks and bottles. During the mayhem, my white friend suffered a brain injury.
That same guy encouraged me to go back to school, but I hesitated. I was a TV employee, but I made more money hustling. He told me, “If I fill out the registration papers at Georgia State College and you’re accepted, would you go?”
I answered yes and the rest is history.
In 1968, my “news” came from The Pittsburg Courier, The Atlanta World, The Chicago Defender, Ebony and Jet.
My “news” has always been Black even though I eventually worked for The Atlanta Journal, The Associated Press, The Washington Post and The Tallahassee Democrat because I could write anyway and anything my employers wanted.
Today, remnants of those Black newspapers are still around but like most community newspapers, changes came and now the newspapers seldom, if ever, plead the causes or interests of Black people in America.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the Black newspaper owners that run The Gantt Report in their publications. And, I wish the publishers well that choose not to run news reports and columns by local residents and local media persons.
Today, John Russwurm, Samuel Cornish, Ida B. Wells, Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, and other great freedom fighters and civil rights activists couldn’t go to sleep and dream about working in some Black newspapers because community reporters and community columnists have zero value to many Black publishers and media owners.
Don’t worry, Black writers on a mission from God cannot be stopped. They cannot be silenced.
What we are experiencing is a period of “Willie Lynch Media”.
Willie Lynch was reportedly a plantation owner during the days of slavery who had a recipe for controlling slaves.
Lynch basically said in speeches and letters that Blacks would never unite, work together and support their brothers and sisters if you could turn Blacks against each other in every way, by slave status, by skin color, by education, etc.
I say, we all have a role in Black progress, the rich, the poor, the strong, the weak, the old, the young, the integrationists, the separatists, the violent and the non-violent must all work together to some degree and in some way. Don’t let people that enjoy white media stop you from being yourself and loving your kind.
If you don’t know, there once was a Gantt Report newspaper. In my paper, anyone who could write well could write in the paper and it didn’t matter what their political persuasion was, it didn’t matter what business or social group they belonged to and it didn’t matter how much money they had.
All that mattered was their authenticity, their love for their community and their level of professionalism.
I never asked my media writers to write like me or write what I wrote. I wanted writers that had a passion and a desire to inform Gantt Report readers regardless of their writing styles.
My newspaper ceased publication when my lobbying clients suggested that I should limit my writings to editorial and opinion columns because people in power did not want Black people to read the truth, especially the “hard truth” as many conscious newspapers printed and published.
When the time comes for me to stop writing, I’ll be OK. I wish I had money to start a J-school to teach young people how to write, do broadcasting, advertising and other media skills.
I believe the Black media pros of today must be versatile. I’m tired of seeing Black writers trying to imitate journalism bigots and klansmen that think Black journalists are inferior, unskilled and unprofessional if they don’t write like Amy and Bubba.
Will new, unafraid and righteous Black writers please stand up?
My media candle can only burn for so long. I have three books I want to write before I take my final journey to the newspaper in the sky!
Young people, don’t fall for the media okey-doke. Black media persons are valuable and so is their writing because Black writing is what African Americans want to read and professionally produced Black shows are what they want to watch.
Lucius is a contributing columnist to NNPA newspapers around the nation, and the author of “Beast Too: Dead Man Writing,” available on Amazon.com and from bookstores everywhere.