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Malcolm X Scholars Point to a Triggerman

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Media Urged to Pursue New Information on '65 Killing

N.Y. Times Finds Coverup in Haitian Prison Deaths

Magazine Seeks Latinas, Obsessing Over Appearance

Reporter Who Exposed Racism Finds Herself Jobless

News Media Cut Back on Traveling With the President

Monica Lozano Promoted to CEO of ImpreMedia

NPR's Michel Martin Asks, Where Do I Direct My Anger?

Short Takes

William Bradley was seen in a campaign commercial for Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

Media Urged to Pursue New Information on '65 Killing

A handful of Malcolm X scholars say the 45-year-old mystery of who really pulled the trigger and killed the iconic black leader has been solved, and are wondering why the news media aren't giving it more attention.

Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a historian who writes for the Woodson Review and other publications of the respected Association for the Study of African American Life and History, identified the trigger man on his blog last month as William Bradley, about 72 years old, and known today as Mustafa Shabazz.

"He is the man who fired the first and deadliest shot which ripped through the chest of the powerful Black leader on that cold 21st day of February, 1965," Muhammad wrote. "How ironic is it that 'Willie' Bradley appears in a recent public safety campaign commercial for Mayor Cory Booker" of Newark?

Speaking about Muhammad, A. Peter Bailey, a onetime president of the New York Association of Black Journalists, an aide to Malcolm X and a pallbearer at his funeral, told Journal-isms, "It seems to me he has documented it rather well."

Three members of the Nation of Islam, the religious group that Malcolm had repudiated, were convicted in the killing of Malcolm at New York's Audubon Ballroom. One, Thomas Hagan, who just turned 69, was released last month after 23 years behind bars and 22 more in a work-release program. The two others, paroled in the 1980s after more than 20 years in prison, always protested their innocence.

Many have long maintained there were actually five assassins - one of them Bradley. But Bradley went to prison on charges of threatening to kill, and authorities never charged him with the Malcolm X assassination.

Karl Evanzz, a former Washington Post researcher and author of two books on the Nation of Islam, one of them "The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X," told Journal-isms, "With this new information, Bradley ought to be exposed and prosecuted for depriving Malcolm X of his civil rights in the same way that the Klansmen who killed black activists were prosecuted for violating the civil rights of black and white activists in the South during the 1960s. Bradley killed Malcolm X to stop him from exercising his freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly.

"Thomas Hagan served 45 years in prison for his role in killing Malcolm X. Bradley hasn't served 45 seconds."

Muhammad said he was able to use his contacts in the New Jersey Muslim community to identify Bradley as Shabazz, ultimately leading to pointing him out in the Booker campaign commercial. [Bradley appears in this commercial at 8 seconds.] "What's new is that Bradley has been living the high life" for years in Newark, "and nobody said a damn thing about it," Muhammad told Journal-isms. "This ought to be exposed."

In 1992, Zak A. Kondo, who wrote what Bailey called the definitive account of Malcolm's assassination, "Conspiracys: Unravelling the Assassination of Malcolm X," implicated government agencies as well as the Nation of Islam in the killing.

Kondo gave biographical sketches of those he called the five assassins. Bradley was one:

"27 years old, stocky build, 5'10" or 5'11" tall, dark brown complexion, close-cropped hair, lived in Newark, N.J., member Newark Mosque and FOI [Fruit of Islam], known as a stick-up man. In 1979, he was serving a 7-15 year sentence in the Caldwell State Prison, Bergen County, N.J., and refused to discuss the assassination.

"I have been told that he is no longer in prison and refuses to admit his role in Malcolm's murder. The puzzling fact about Bradley is his use of the shotgun during the murder. He handled it -- one of the most difficult weapons to fire - like a professional, firing it from the hip and emptying both barrels.

"I am hard-pressed to explain where a young brother in the mid-60s learned to master so difficult a weapon. I interviewed one brother who knows Bradley. He contends that a surprising number of people in Newark knew that Bradley was a killer. The brother recalls one being in a bar talking to Bradley. Shortly after the assassin left, another looked at him and said, 'you know, that's a killer.' Years later, the brother learned that Malcolm had been one of Bradley's victims."

The New York Times ran this photo on its front page Sunday, showing the squalid, overcrowded prison in Les Cayes, Haiti. An escape attempt during January's earthquake ended with a riot and fatal shootings. (Credit: New York Times)

N.Y. Times Finds Coverup in Haitian Prison Deaths

An investigation by the New York Times indicates that as inmates sought to escape during Haiti's massive earthquake in January, "Haitian authorities shot unarmed prisoners and then sought to cover it up. Many of the bodies were buried in an unmarked grave," the newspaper reported on Sunday.

The story challenged the official version of events, that authorities did not use lethal force but rather found lifeless bodies when they entered the prison at Les Cayes, Haiti.

"Prison officials would not allow The Times to enter the walled prison compound, which sits directly behind the police station in the heart of town. But reporters interviewed six witnesses to the disturbance as well as five others who visited the prison either immediately after the shootings or the next day," according to the story by Deborah Sontag and Walt Bogdanich, datelined Les Cayes.

"None saw inmates firing weapons or any evidence that inmates killed inmates. Instead, witnesses said the police shot unarmed prisoners, some in the prison yard, others in their cells. Afterward, the authorities failed to notify inmates’ relatives of the deaths, buried bodies without conducting autopsies and burned the surviving prisoners’ bloodstained clothing and shoes."

The Times also said it reviewed confidential Haitian and United Nations reports and interviewed former detainees, guards, prison cooks, wardens, police officials, judicial officials and relatives of dead prisoners.

"For four months, American and United Nations officials have made no public comments about the killings at Les Cayes, saying they were urging the Haitians to handle the matter themselves. But after The Times repeatedly raised questions about the case with American officials, the United States Embassy sent a human rights officer to Les Cayes.

"The United Nations mission chief in Haiti, Edmond Mulet, has now ordered the United Nations police commissioner here to begin an independent inquiry."

Matthew Purdy, The Times' investigations editor, did not respond to inquiries about the Times' reporting of the story.

From left, Ruth Gaviria, vice president, Meredith Hispanic Ventures; Daisy Fuentes; Kristyn Page, Macy’s multicultural market director; Dr. Alicia Barba, celebrity dermatologist; Leonardo Rocco, hairstylist; and Ursula Carranza, Siempre Mujer fashion and beauty editor.

Magazine Seeks Latinas, Obsessing Over Appearance

Audrey Edwards filed this item for Journal-isms from New York:

Think ‚ÄúLatina‚Äù and the image is often of a dark-haired, pretty se?±orita who is somehow both sweet and sexy. Apparently, this is an image cultivated as much by Latinas themselves as by any fantasies packaged in media, according to a panel of Hispanic beauty experts convened by the Latina magazine Siempre Mujer (Always a Woman) last week at the Tribeca Cinemas in New York.

"Hispanic women are very much obsessed with beauty," said panelist Ursula Carranza, Siempre Mujer’s beauty editor, during the breakfast session. "It’s a way of projecting who we are." As a result, Latinas spend nearly three times as much as their non-Latina sisters on every beauty product imaginable, from lip gloss and body oils to hair relaxers and perfumed cachets.

Such obsession "is not always healthy," added Daisy Fuentes, model, author and TV personality and another participant in "Siempre Beauty — A Panel on Beauty and the Latina Consumer." But because Latinas are part of the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, they represent a colossal consumer market to the media and beauty industries. Hispanics possess $479 billion in purchasing power.

Siempre Mujer, which calls itself the only Spanish-language magazine for Hispanic women, is tapping this market through both its editorial content and its pitch for advertising. “Hispanic women are brand-loyal, but you can’t take them for granted,” said Kristyn Page, multicultural director for Macy’s department stores and the only non-Hispanic panelist. "You have to keep products fresh. And the best way to reach the Hispanic woman is through all media — TV, radio, Hispanic media, direct mail, online."

Hispanic women are as diverse as the American population, coming in all skin shades, with different hair textures and beauty needs. Their choices often reflect the desire to conform to an "Anglo" model, as well as a fairly recent need to hold back the aging process.

"I’m seeing more Latinas coming to my office who want things like Botox injections," said panelist Dr. Alicia Barba, a dermatologist. And Leonardo Rocco, a Miami-based hair stylist, said frizzy or Afro-type hair is a definite no-no. "Latin women love long, flowing hair to attract men," he said.

Session moderator Ruth Gaviria, vice president of the Hispanic Ventures division of Meredith Corp., which publishes Siempre Mujer, agreed, saying that for the Latina, flowing hair is frequently tied to her ideas about femininity and sensuality.

Cultivating both Hispanic women and those who market to them is part of Siempre Mujer's growth strategy.

Meredith Hispanic Ventures launched Siempre Mujer in September 2005 with a rate base of 350,000. It was one of the few magazines to show circulation gains in the last six months of 2009.

"We increased our rate base to 450,000 in January 2009," Gaviria told Journal-isms in February. "We've been targeting Spanish-language dominant Hispanic women and have seen steady growth in our paid subscription acquisition and renewal programs. During the past year we have also seen growing interest from marketers who view Siempre Mujer as a desirable partner in reaching Latina women. These marketing relationships have allowed Siempre Mujer to target the right reader and grow the balance of our circulation."

In March, after a steep decline in ad revenue in 2009 among Hispanic magazines, as with magazines overall, Medialifemagazine spoke to Carlos Pelay, founder of Media Economics Group, a research company that tracks advertising in Hispanic media. Diego Vasquez asked Pelay where he first expected to see a revival of ad spending.

"Personal care ad spending, especially cosmetics and hair care, has held up fairly well through the recession," Pelay said. "Two other categories — personal care-baby/children and food, are among the categories that hold the best promise for growth in 2010, particularly among Hispanics, who over-index in both categories."

Claire O'Brien before she was fired from the Dodge City (Kan.) Daily Globe. It wasn't long before she found invitations to appear at journalism conferences rescinded and invitations to apply for jobs at other newspapers disappear. (Credit: James Carlson/Topeka Capital-Journal)

Reporter Who Exposed Racism Finds Herself Jobless

"It's been a little over a month since Sam Bonilla, a Mexican immigrant opted not to go to trial in Dodge City, Kansas for killing a local man during a situation he claims was self-defense," Marisa Trevi?±o wrote Friday on her Latina Lista blog.

"Bonilla's reason for not facing a jury was [reportedly] that he didn't feel he could get a fair trial in Dodge City because he was Latino.

"Time will tell if Dodge City officials were as clueless to the racial tensions that exist in their town, as they claim, or they just didn't like anyone pulling off the blanket and exposing how they always did things.

"No matter which way it's looked at, the situation in Dodge City needed to be exposed. If it had not been for Claire O'Brien, the reporter for the Dodge City Daily Globe at the time, no one would have found out about Bonilla or Dodge City.

". . . But not everybody was happy that O'Brien exposed Dodge's racial undercurrents. In a bizarre show of unprofessionalism, the presiding judge in Sam Bonilla's sentencing hearing, Judge Daniel Love, took over 10 minutes to publicly berate O'Brien, who was present in the courtroom, for stirring things up in town. He blamed her choice of words in her reporting to describe Bonilla's situation. By the time the judge was done, it was clear he viewed O'Brien as a troublemaker — yet, everyone else should have seen her as doing her job, and doing it well.

"However, in the hours after Bonilla's sentencing, O'Brien found herself in a situation that no reporter should be in for doing their job. Within a span of hours, O'Brien lost her job at the Daily Globe, was uninvited to speak at a journalism conference, was ignored by the Kansas Press Association in her role for finally getting the Shield Law passed in Kansas and began a quest to redeem her journalistic reputation. . . . "

News Media Cut Back on Traveling With the President

"The news media have found a new area of coverage ripe for cost-cutting: the president of the United States," Brian Stelter wrote Friday for the New York Times.

"For decades it was a given that whenever the president traveled, a charter plane packed with members of the press would travel with him. But the press flights have been sharply curtailed in recent months, a victim of cost-cutting by news organizations that are struggling to stay profitable.

"As a result, fewer reporters are tagging along with President Obama and his aides, limiting the number of news sources at a time when Americans are acutely interested in White House policies and personalities.

" 'The sole reason is money,' said Edwin Chen, the senior White House correspondent for Bloomberg News and the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, who called the cutbacks alarming."

Monica Lozano Promoted to CEO of ImpreMedia

Monica C. LozanoMonica C. Lozano, publisher and CEO of Los Angeles-based La Opini??n, was named chief executive officer of impreMedia, the company announced on Monday. ImpreMedia calls itself the No. 1 Hispanic news and information company in the U.S. in online and print.

Lozano, 53, has been in a leadership position at impreMedia since its founding in January 2004, and has more than 25 years of Hispanic media experience. La Opini??n, the largest Spanish language daily in the country, was founded by her grandfather in 1926.

Lozano is also CEO of SVP impreMedia, overseeing the company's publishing group, including El Diario La Prensa and Hoy in New York, La Raza in Chicago and La Prensa in Central Florida. Lozano serves on the board of directors of Bank of America and the Walt Disney Co., as well as the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Lozano succeeds John Paton, who left impreMedia in January to lead a turnaround effort at the Journal Register Co.

NPR's Michel Martin Asks, Where Do I Direct My Anger?

Michel Martin, right, and her brother, Norman McQueen Jr. (Credit: Family photo)Michel Martin, host of "Tell Me More" on National Public Radio, returned from a two-week absence on Monday and spoke about her brother, Norman McQueen Jr., a New York firefighter:

"He was funny, handsome, kind at heart, physically strong, an extremely devoted father, a loving husband, and a supportive, if occasionally annoying, little brother.

"Two weeks ago, today, he took his own life.

"I'd be lying if I tried to pretend I'm not angry. (Stages of grief, and all that.) The only problem is, I can't figure out exactly with whom or what I should be angry.

"Should I be angry with the Sept. 11 hijackers who flew the plane into the building that crushed the rig he sometimes drove, and one of his closest friends along with it?

"The macho culture that made him reluctant to get help, even though the recurring storms of grief and rage that washed over him after Sept. 11 cost him his first marriage and threatened his second? . . .

"Should I blame the inconsistent — and, perhaps, even incompetent — care he got when he finally did seek help?

"The job that disappeared due to budget cuts? The recession that left his home stripped of value?

"Should I blame his brain circuitry? . . . Our gene pool?

"Because I am a journalist and I have been trained to research things, I now know that in this country death by one's own hand is more common than by the hands of others. Some 33,000 people took their own lives last year — that we know about.

"That's almost twice as many people as were murdered.

". . . I refuse to be ashamed of him, or what he did. I hate what he did to himself but I hate even more whatever it is that caused him to feel that his life had no value.

"Years from now, maybe there will be a pill you can take to stop this. Maybe — like the premature babies we can now save or some illnesses we can now treat — maybe, we will find a way to treat despair.

"Until then, I hope that those who cannot see a way out of their own particular darkness will think of another good man — and think of how much he was loved and is missed — and will remember that they, too, are loved and will find some way to see the light."

Short Takes

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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