Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 9:12am
DRIVE TIME FOR THE 'JENA 6'
[SOURCE: Washington Post, AUTHOR: Eugene Robinson email@example.com]
[Commentary] How did thousands of African Americans come to descend on the town of Jena (LA) yesterday for a march and rally that brought to mind the heady days of the civil rights movement? The answer says as much about what has changed over the past half-century as it says about what hasn't. We still might not know about what was happening in Jena if the case hadn't been noticed by bloggers, who sounded the alarm. And I'm quite sure there would have been no busloads of protesters descending on Jena if the cause hadn't been taken up by a radio personality best known for R-rated banter about sex and relationships. Michael Baisden, whose afternoon drive-time show "Love, Lust and Lies" is heard in urban markets across the country, launched a crusade on behalf of the "Jena 6." The hours that Baisden normally would have spent in risque repartee with "grown and sexy" callers about romance or infidelity were devoted instead to the Jena case. The cause was then taken up by other black radio hosts -- Tom Joyner, whose morning drive-time show has enormous reach; Steve Harvey, the comedian whose morning show usually covers the same "Does he really love me?" territory as does Baisden's; the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose show, as you might expect, was already heavy on politics and activism. Yesterday morning, as the throng descended on Jena, both the Joyner and Harvey shows featured live updates from the scene. Baisden and Sharpton were in Jena, helping lead the demonstrations. It's fair to say that without black radio, the case of the Jena 6 probably never would have become a significant national story -- and certainly never would have sparked one of the biggest civil rights protests in decades. Black radio is one of the places where all the varied segments of black America still come together. It's a true community medium, even if what we still call "the black community" is, for most purposes, best thought of as plural.
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