Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

A Multicultural World War II

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Tuesday, June 1, 2004

With D-Day Anniversary, a Chance to Tell Full Story

"The role of blacks on D-Day isn't well-known," Lance Gay writes for Scripps Howard News Service. "Only one black face appears briefly in the movie 'The Longest Day,' and there is not a single black in the much-acclaimed 'Saving Private Ryan.' Most histories of the assault on Normandy also fail to notice that black soldiers were among the troops."

The 60th anniversary of D-Day this coming Sunday, in conjunction with last weekend's dedication in Washington of the new World War II memorial, provides journalists an opportunity to tell the full story.

Gay writes about San Francisco photographer Samuel LeBon Wooten, 44, "who was born in France to an African-American father and a French mother and grew up in the tiny town of St. Mere Eglise, heart of American D-Day airborne operations.

"In hopes of saving the story of blacks and D-Day, Wooten is taking black veterans back to the Normandy beaches to participate in the 60th-anniversary celebrations France is planning," Gay wrote.

"He said he hopes to produce a film recording the contributions of African-Americans to the war, and trace the activity of black units through Normandy, including the courts-martial in 1944 that resulted in some black troops being hanged.

"Wooten said six veterans, who range in age from 79 to 95, are participating, including one who uses a walker and another a wheelchair. 'The 95-year-old seems to be the fittest,' he said," Gay wrote.

Gay later wrote "WWII Memorial bittersweet for Japanese-Americans," that quoted Grant Ichikawa, 85, saying that "the backlash against Muslims in the United States after the 9/11 attacks brought back sad memories about how Japanese-Americans were treated in the war."

The segregated units in which the Japanese-Americans served were not at D-Day, according to a spokeswoman for the Go for Broke Educational Foundation, an organization of Japanese-American veterans, but Bryon Okada of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram told another heroic story.

"In a battle fought in the Vosges Mountains of France, Japanese-Americans have their galvanizing American experience," he reported. "Like the Alamo, it is about men who gave their lives for a greater cause. It comes with a famous battle cry, yelled as soldiers charged through the forest: 'Go for broke.'

"In October 1944, in the foggy forests of eastern France, U.S. soldiers of Japanese descent fought through heavy casualties to rescue brothers in arms, making American -- and Texas -- history.

"The rescue of the 141st Infantry Regiment -- a Texas National Guard unit starving, out of ammunition, surrounded by Germans -- is the most famous of the all-Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat Team's deeds. The lost battalion story is a sliver of U.S. history passed from generation to generation by Japanese-Americans and by the soldiers they saved."

Philadelphia journalists Yvonne Latty, an obituary writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, and Ron Tarver, a longtime photographer at the Philadelphia Inquirer, produced "We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans, from World War II to the War in Iraq," a collection of first-person accounts that gave them the opportunity to publicize the veterans' stories -- and to help maintain a memorial to them.

"On Memorial Day, the committee that cares for the All War Memorial for Colored Soldiers and Sailors is hosting a 'Walk For Respect' along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway," Latty wrote in the Daily News.

"Daily News readers have purchased nearly 90 copies of 'We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans from World War II to the War in Iraq' (Harper Collins/Amistad).

"Proceeds from the sale of the book through the Daily News ensure that the once-neglected and hidden memorial remains in perfect condition forever.

"The imposing bronze and granite memorial, celebrating its 70th anniversary, is one of the few in the country that honors African-American veterans."

Tarver's photographs are on display at the National Constitutional Center in Philadelphia through Aug. 15.

The Forgotten Heroes of World War II (Bill Alexander,

A record of sacrifice for all (Acel Moore, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Abdul-Jabbar honors black WW II 'Brothers' (Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today)

William Brower, Pioneer Toledo Newsman, Dies at 87

William A. Brower, "remembered as an awesome presence in the newsroom, the man African-Americans in Toledo considered 'their reporter,'" died Friday at age 87 in Washington, the Toledo Blade reports. He had a 50-year career and was the Toledo Blade's first black reporter when he joined that staff in 1946.

"It was a ground-breaking decision for an American newspaper. The year Mr. Brower was hired by The Blade, Ebony magazine profiled him as one of a handful of 'Negro Newsmen on White Dailies,' including Ted Poston of the New York Post and Edgar T. Rouzeau of the New York Herald-Tribune," the Blade wrote in its obituary.

"As the newspaper's first black reporter, he covered a wide range of stories, from accidents and crimes to meetings of the Toledo city schools and the board of trustees at the then-Toledo University. He considered the highlight of his earlier years as a reporter for The Blade the four days he spent in New York in 1949 covering the trial of 11 Communist leaders.

"But in 1951, Mr. Brower was to make his debut on the national stage with a groundbreaking series in The Blade titled, 'Fifteen Million Americans,' about the living conditions of blacks in a segregated America.

"With the series, he found his voice as a reporter, a writer, and as a black American.

"'The more the conscience of the American people is pricked by the shame of racial violence, the more such outrages will decline,' he wrote after a tour of 27 states for The Blade. 'I do not mean to imply that Negroes are on the threshold of victory in their tough and sometimes frustrating struggle for equality. . . . None of these things will happen at the snap of the finger.'

"His 16-part series was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize -- the first such nomination for The Blade -- and reprinted in several other newspapers," the Blade reported.

Like most black journalists at the time, Brower worked in the black press.

"In 1942, he became a reporter for the Washington-based Tribune, a newspaper serving the black community, and six months later he became a reporter for the Baltimore Afro-American, where his assignments included reporting on the execution of a black man. He was editor for that newspaper's branch editions in Richmond, Va., and Philadelphia before he came to The Blade," the obituary noted.

Brower was named the Blade's assistant managing editor in 1971 and was in charge of weekend news operations for many years. He became associate editor in 1976 and, for the next two decades, wrote a thrice-weekly column on a wide range of issues, including civil rights.

"In 1979 and 1980, on leave from The Blade, Mr. Brower taught journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia. He had taught at Defiance College in 1974 and 1975 and at Central State University in 1978 and 1979.

"In 1993, Mr. Brower was recognized by the 119th Ohio General Assembly, which established a scholarship in his name.

"Two months after retiring from The Blade in 1996, city officials named the bridge that carries Upton Avenue over the Ottawa River as 'The William A. Brower Bridge.' The same year he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists in 1996."

Funeral services are scheduled for Thursday, June 10, at 11 a.m. at All Saint's Episcopal Church in Toledo, with visitation on June 9 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Dale Funeral Home in that city.

Blade newsman thrived with courage and talent (Seymour Rothman, the Blade)

"Backlash" After Ouster of Campus Paper's Adviser

Black students at Kansas State University are feeling "a lot of backlash from alumni" after the school reassigned to "other teaching duties" the adviser to the student newspaper, the president of the Black Student Union told Journal-isms today. "But they have to realize it's not only the Black Student Union but all the multicultural students on campus" who objected to the adviser, said Kendra Spencer. "People make it out to be a black issue, but it's not."

Ron Johnson, student publications adviser at Kansas State, was reassigned last month after weeks of controversy surrounding coverage by the student newspaper. The Black Student Union asked for Johnson's removal after the paper failed to cover the Big 12 Conference on Black Student Government, which brought 1,000 students to the campus in Manhattan. "He's been the adviser for over 15 years," Spencer told Journal-isms, "and this problem continually happens."

The action has prompted a backlash from journalism groups and other free-press advocates.

Last week, the Society of Professional Journalists announced that it formed a task force to investigate the firing.

?This is another example of the increasing pressure put upon college media advisers in an era where college administrators believe they know more about the right way to manage newspapers than journalists do,? Mac McKerral, president of SPJ, said in a statement.

The board of College Media Advisers "has voted to censure Kansas State University and condemn its removal of Ron Johnson as media adviser because university administrators disagreed with the content of the student newspaper," the group announced last month.

"CMA members believe that students learn much more when they make the decisions about what is published in their student publications. The adviser's job is to teach the students how to publish quality publications and then critique those efforts afterwards so students can learn from their mistakes and from what they did well. Moreover, at least at public institutions, the First Amendment requires such a hands-off approach by college officials and employees, including advisers."

As reported Friday, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education has been documenting the lack of African Americans on student newspapers on majority-white campuses. Spencer said that there are currently no black students on The Collegian, but there are other "multicultural" students and had been black students in other years.

Va. Paper Examines Its Views During Jim Crow Era

"Southern whites who have had the rare opportunity of looking in upon the real soul of the Negro have wished that the world might have the benefit of more of his philosophy," reads a 1936 editorial in the Daily Press of Newport News, Va.

"In the midst of the mad whirl of life we sometimes pause a moment to observe the patient Negro on the outside wondering what it is all about and why the white man punishes both body and soul in his living. The Negro's inclination to let the morrow take care of itself and not pile up eventualities that may never occur; his willingness to wait for the things he desires most, in confidence that eventually they will come about; his helpfulness to others; all of these aptitudes of his race we might know more of with profit."

The editorial is recalled in a 3,958-word piece by Tony Gabriele in the Daily Press examining the newspaper's racial views during the segregation era.

"Most of the time, the newspapers' attitudes on race in the pre-integration era were those typical of the white elites who led Virginia then. They were not anti-black, per se. In their editorials, they condemned lynchings and encouraged racial harmony, expressed satisfaction at blacks' economic progress and supported fair play for some black individuals who suffered public wrongs -- as those things were then defined by the white majority," Gabriele writes.

"But such views always were strictly confined within the existing system of racial segregation, committed to a firm social bar between blacks and whites, with whites unquestionably on top."

"To Perish in Its Purity," 1925 editorial

Most Black Columnists Lining Up With Cosby

  • Amy Alexander, Reading Between the Lines: Kill Bill?


  • Sam Fulwood, Cleveland Plain Dealer: Cosby speaks the painful truth


  • Sam Fulwood, Cleveland Plain Dealer: Most readers agree with Cosby



  • Gregory Kane, Baltimore Sun: Black leaders must choose between criminals and victims


  • Norman Lockman, Wilmington (Del.) News-Journal: Bill Cosby is in trouble for telling truth



  • David Person, Huntsville (Ala.) Times: Many black folks didn't need the data to know the truth of Cosby's words


  • Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: 'I know we can do better,' a reader says


  • Wendy C. Thomas, Memphis Commercial Appeal: Cosby put dirty truth out to air


  • Tonyaa Weathersbee, Florida Times-Union: Cosby dished out a heap of truth for blacks to ponder

. . . As Remarks Generate More News Stories

  • George E. Curry, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Bill Cosby stands behind critical comments


  • Deepti Hajela, the Associated Press: Some angry, some agree with Cosby criticisms of section of black community


  • Peter Smith, Louisville Courier-Journal: Criticisms of habits of some blacks draw local reaction

Nerve Disease Forces Philly's Thomas-Laury to Quit

Lisa Thomas-Laury, a Philadelphia anchor suffering from a nerve disease who has been with WPVI-TV, the ABC affiliate, since 1978, "has decided that she has no choice but to leave Action News," the station has announced.

"The popular anchor has been on medical leave since late 2002, with a brief return from September to November of last year," Dan Gross writes in the Philadelphia Daily News.

"Thomas-Laury is battling peripheral neuropathy, a disease that damages the nerves of the arms and legs. According to, she also has a rare disorder called CIDP, 'in which a person's own immune system goes haywire and attacks the covering of the nerves.'

"'At this time, Lisa and her doctors have decided that she needs more time to focus exclusively on getting better,' says a statement posted on the station's Web site.

"In 1978, the Marshall University graduate started as noon co-anchor and reporter. She began co-anchoring the 5 p.m. Action News in 1983. She also hosted the station's public affairs program 'Fast Forward,' its 'Children First' series, and the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade," Gross writes.

AP's Rod Richardson Named ME in Shreveport

Rod Richardson, assistant chief of bureau for the Associated Press in Dallas, has been named managing editor of The Times in his hometown of Shreveport, La., the Gannett Co. announces.

Richardson replaces Alan English, who was named executive editor of the newspaper in April.

"Richardson started his career as a general assignment reporter at The Lufkin (Texas) Daily News in 1986. The next year, he joined The San Diego Tribune as a reporter. He returned to Texas in 1989 as a reporter with the AP. He held a number of positions with the AP, including night and day supervisor and news editor. The Texas APME named Richardson the AP Staffer of the Year in 2001.

"He joins The Times on June 28."

Sridhar Pappu Moves to Atlantic Monthly

Sridhar Pappu, who wrote the "Off the Record" media column in the New York Observer from 2001 until February, when he left for Sports Illustrated, is changing jobs again.

Pappu has signed a one-year contract to join The Atlantic Monthly as a correspondent. "He has a contract with us to write five or six lengthy profiles. As far as we know they will be on media or business or politics. Nobody knows for sure," as details are still being worked out, Atlantic spokeswoman Julia Rothwax told Journal-isms. He left Time Inc. a week ago, Folio magazine said.

Morgan Freeman Snatches Thomas-Graham Novel

CNBC president CEO Pamela Thomas-Graham, called by Ms. Magazine "the most influential African American woman in cable television," has also authored three mystery books ?- "and the movie rights for the third novel in her 'Ivy League Mystery Series' ? 'Orange Crushed' -? have just been scooped up by Oscar-nominated actor Morgan Freeman," reports Michael Starr in the New York Post.

"Publishers Weekly calls 'Orange Crushed,' 'a provocative novel sure to appeal well beyond the ivory tower.' Thomas-Graham's other two 'Ivy League Mystery' novels are 'Blue Blood' and 'A Darker Shade of Crimson,'" Starr notes.

Jorge Gestoso, Formerly of CNN, Forms Own Firm

Jorge Gestoso, the chief anchor for CNN en Español who left the network on May 31, has formed Gestoso Television News, and one of its first offerings is an interview program Gestoso will host from Washington, Pareja's Media Match reports.

"GTN will also offer a variety of on-demand news services. The broad spectrum will include complete news segments as well as entire news broadcasts from Washington, along with daily news briefs or mini news broadcasts. In this way, Gestoso will be able to offer viewers in each nation what they demand: a Latin American vision of what is happening in the United States and the world-all with agenda-free independent journalism," Daisy Pareja writes of her client.

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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