August 30, 2014
In 1827 the Black Press was launched with the pronouncement: “Too long have others spoken for us…We wish to plead our own cause.” The publication of “Freedom’s Journal” marked a movement that spread across this country and continues to the present day. In Buffalo, the history of the Black Press is carried on by two legendary papers, the “Buffalo Criterion” and the “Buffalo Challenger”. Each has an impressive history and continues to articulate the challenge established by “Freedom’s Journal”. In a city dominated by one major newspaper, we are indebted to the Black press for providing a platform that ensures our community is not held hostage to the slanted and biased reporting of that publication.
The most recent case in point is illustrated by the Buffalo News’ article on the August 27th special Board of Education meeting. It appears that a new strategy was employed in reporting on this meeting – just ignore many of the events that took place all together. There was nothing in the article about the fact that the meeting was held at the uncommon hour of 9:00 am; nothing about the fact that the Board room was packed by an audience of 60 to 70 individuals; nothing about the vocal protestations from many of these community members opposing the actions of the majority Board members.
There was nothing about the presentation by Dr. Constance Moss (named only as a “local consultant”) of her proposed reorganization plan for Bennett High School; nothing about the Interim Superintendent’s “recommendation turned resolution” that was objected to because it was procedurally flawed; nothing about the vote of the majority to “receive and file” Dr. Moss’ proposal, pay her for work completed but end her contract early; nothing about the vocal opposition of the four minority members of the Board to this resolution; nothing about the concerns voiced by these same members about their continued exclusion from information shared with the majority members of the Board leading to decisions arrived at long before the official vote is taken…and I could go on but by now you get the picture.
I was there and couldn't believe that this article was reporting on the meeting I attended! I have heard from many others who attended the meeting and share this perspective. However, thanks to this newspaper, I’m able to share a true picture of the events of the August 27th board meeting. The Black press, now joined by the Black electronic media, e.g. WUFO radio, is as needed today as it was over 180 years ago. Our local publications need and deserve community support. I thank the editors/publishers of these publications for the opportunity to share these articles with their readers and I urge everyone reading this article to continue to help maintain these papers and other media.