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#MLK50 Essay #5 - Jhas Williams-Wood
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The well documented anxiety that Dr. King felt behind closed doors, to use his platform as an unapologetic black voice of truth, mirrors my own anxiety when I open my mouth to thousands of listeners every morning Monday through Friday.

There is a constant struggle being a black media maven, with a predominantly white audience, where the threat of "angry black woman” looms overhead. After all, we all know her: whose words hold more passion than validity; more emotion than intellect. Harder still, is finding that sweet spot of balance: telling the truth in entirety without being written off by the same people I am fighting for.


Before we created the holidays, statues and boulevards in his honor; long before we nationally recognized his birthday, both NEWSWEEK and TIME magazines have stated that King was at one time denounced as an “extremist” and that in the years leading up to his assassination, the preacher and civil rights activist was less popular than ever giving him a 26 point unfavorable
rate increase from 1963 on.

By 1966, a poll was taken revealing that nearly two-thirds of Americans had an "unfavorable opinion" of Dr. King. It was at this time that the newspapers practically forced colored men and women to pick a side: careful to pit the two main characters of the Civil Rights movement against one another as if black lives were some shakespearean play in which media outlets could control the ending.


When left up to the papers, in one corner, you had the passive and peaceful Dr. King while in the other towered the militant and radical Malcolm X. Yet armed with limited facts, the negro man was left to make the decision on who to follow, blindly. And because History must repeat itself, nearly sixty years later, we are here again; with men like Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid
using their platforms to stand, or rather kneel, for the social injustices and brutalization of black men, women and children that continue to go unnoticed.


The difference? We no longer only have publications created to appease oppression and hatred, but instead, we have multiple news sources that confront it directly. In 2018, we are armed with sources like The Root, Essence, Ebony and the Huffington Post's BLACK VOICES which deliver the narrative of men like Stephon Clark who was shot in the back 8 times in a botched
attempt by authorities to cover up a lie.

Not only has Dr. King’s legacy inspired my work as a journalist and a media professional in a broad sense, but on a more personal front, as the first black woman to become morning show anchor at the radio station where I'm employed. I have the very platform that my ancestors dreamt I would have. Armed with opportunity and the ability to see the big picture, I would like to think that his fight was worth it.

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