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What Had Happened Was...

So, yes, that WAS me you heard on The Michael Baisden Show Wednesday afternoon...

See, what happened was, we were trying to book Baisden for OUR show on Jena. For those of you who aren't fully aware, the nationally-syndicated radio host Michael Baisden — better known for features like "Madd Issues" Monday, "Pleasure Principle" Thursday and his self-published tomes on issues like Why Men Cheat — is one of the prime movers behind the "Jena 6" support rally.

...Thousands of people gathered in Jena, a small town of only 3,000 people to show their concern about what they see as racial inequality in the justice system.

We wanted to know what motivated Baisden to put the force of his show, and his personality, behind this cause. I don't know exactly how many people heard about the rally from him, but I do know it was an awful lot.

The only problem is...Baisden was on a bus...on his way to Jena. So, what to do? We tried burning up his cell phone (he was not pleased), calling his "people" (who were also on the bus). So producers Jamila Bey and Wendy Johnson got the bright idea to call into the show (he's on the air from 3-7 pm ET weekdays). All of a sudden we hear...Jamila's on the air!

She was talking to Baisden about why she wants HIM to talk to ME! And then...she hands ME the phone! What could I do?

So, we chatted. I had to know how and why, of all the causes in the world, this one so engaged his attention. We had a nice chat, but hey Michael! How about some reciprocity, man? I STILL want him to come on my show. He said (on the air) maybe next week.

So, TMM fans — do me a favor — burn up his phone and tell him to get on my show.

We were delighted to hear the voices of the people who were able to join us — Lindsay Dial, a 30-year-old contract compliance officer, who boarded a bus from Atlanta to make the rally, and pastor Eddie Thompson, who lives and serves a church in Jena — to give their respective views on why one wanted to come, and the other wishes she hadn't.

What about you? Is this the Selma moment for a new generation?
Another bid for relevance by the "old guard" civil rights leadership?
An absolutely crucial moment, a waste of time?

Tell us more...



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This is a cricial moment. There are many people, both young and older who are motivated by this blatant double standard in the justice system. Thursday in Jena really spotlighted it. The Michael Baisden show, and many other groups are melting the generations into a powerful force to be reckoned with IT'S ON AND POPPIN!

Sent by michael jimison | 2:26 PM | 9-21-2007

Hi, Michel. First, I would like to say I have enjoyed your reports very much over the years. Secondly I would like to thank NPR for airing the original Jena 6 report that I heard.

I did not know you were on NPR now until I heard your voice last week on Baisden. Also, Nice blog!

I actually came in the middle of your call into his show and I kept thinking to myself that your voice sounded familiar, but I just could not guess who you were until the way end of your exchange when Michael said your name and I had to look you up on the net because the last I saw you was on ABC. Thanks for clearing this up on what happened when you called into his show.

I too heard your exchange with Michael Baisden and I wondered about just what was the real deal because it sounded like something was wrong or out of synch in your convo with him on-air. It sounded spontaneous but something sounded off there.

As one who has worked in radio for almost 20 years and also served in the producer position I know all too well that sometimes things like that can happen. It's rare for it to happen on air like that played out but it can happen.

I would say to tell your producers to try again this week to contact his producers as a whole lot of people are trying and have been trying to secure interviews with him on this topic. That is great you were able to get the interviews that you did.

Now, as to your questions. They are all excellent questions! Is this the Selma moment for a new generation? Time will tell but I think it certainly feels like it to me. Was this another bid for relevance by the "old guard" civil rights leadership? I honestly did not look at this particular situation like this because most of them from what I have heard and read did not jump on this as fast as Baisden did. As a matter of fact it seemed this situation was brought to many of their attention by others. (Staff, word of mouth, internet blogs, black radio, etc.) but I can understand your question. I actually thought Reverend Al Sharpton handled this the best.

Was this an absolutely crucial moment, or a waste of time? I believe this is an absolute crucial moment and I'm glad they did it. I'm glad this story got full exposure after 10 months of most people not even hearing about it.

For more on my thoughts on this I would point you to my blog on I did on the Jena 6 at Take care and All the Best with your new show!

Sent by Lawrence Tucker | 11:56 AM | 9-24-2007

The new Selma? Well, I don't know. Is it just me, or does anyone else feel just a little bit sad that in 2007 we are using the same tactics that we used in 1963? I'm not saying that the protests and outrage were wrong at all. I supported the protests. But after 44 years, it seems that there should be some additional strategies. Sadly, I have to admit that I don't know what those strategies should be; all I know is that we need find some and quickly.

I think that one of the reasons the civil rights protests of the past were effective was because the coverage was able to evoke moral conviction. I'm not sure that type of coverage is possible anymore. As time passed, the Jena coverage focused more on the protests, and not on the injustice. Few media outlets even bothered to tell the whole story, that there had been a few fights and not just one. I eventually found myself turning past Jena stories. Admittedly, I declared at one point I didn't want to hear another word until some progress had been made. I didn't want to hear one more report until the State's Attorney of LA, the Justice Department, or some other official had been implored to intervene or at least comment. But I never heard anything like that. I just kept hearing reports about busloads of people and the same sound bites. It reminded me of Kanye West's comments after Katrina; the story wasn't as much about what Kanye said but the fact that he said it.

I think the tricky thing in today's society is keeping protest efforts focused on solving the issue, and not the act of protesting itself. We can't rely on today's mass media to dig beyond what they can film and the sound bites they can record. How do we do that? I don't know, but I think we need to figure it out. The future of young men and women like the Jena Six depend on it.

Sent by Anonymous | 5:33 PM | 9-24-2007

Where was the educators that were suppose to be watching out for the children. I am a 12th grader at Statesboro High In Georgia and you can't even argue without 10 teachers and police coming and doing their job. If you do get a chance to throw a punch it is only a punch. They need to look in to where the superviors were and why didn't they jump in and stop it. Fights do get out of hand and that is what the educators are suppose to be there for. Things happen. I also feel that the black students shouldn't have had to ask to sit under the tree because it is their school too. Yea they should be punished for fighting at school but they should only get 5 days oss and the kids who were involved in the nooses should also receive 5 days because that is a hate crime but mistakes happen. Children shouldn't have their whole lives messed up just because of childish pranks.

Sent by Diondra | 10:32 AM | 10-4-2007

It's amazing how african americans have put their faith in the courts as far as punishment and sentencing when the desparity in sentencing cries out for justice with a blow horn. judges are human and they to have prejudice feelings it's not the courts that's sentencing african americans but humans. the evidence is clear the american judicial system is wrong toward sentencing african americans

Sent by Darryl | 1:30 AM | 10-8-2007