Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Influential Newspapers

BOND: Let me take you back a little bit to -- you mentioned what you'd read about in newspapers. What newspapers did you read then, high school and --

BARAKA: When I was a kid?

BOND: When you were a kid. In addition to the ones you produced --

BARAKA: The Daily News and the Star Ledger.

BOND: The Star Ledger?

BARAKA: No, and the Newark Evening News. It was the Newark -- my father would bring home the Newark Evening News, you know, because he was a postman. And he would come in and he'd have the paper under his arm. And I would up -- and get the paper. My son does the same thing to me. My oldest son did the same thing to me. I'd have the newspaper when I'd come in, he'll come up and get it and read it, you know. I just think they all did that to me. But the Daily News you read in the morning, and the Ledger, one or the other. And, you know, the Evening News. But never the New York Times and New York -- the Daily News was the paper, and the Ledger and the --

BOND: What about black papers? The Courier --

BARAKA: They read -- yes. They read, of course --

BOND: The Afro?

BARAKA: They read the Afro American, they read the Pittsburgh Courier, they read the -- there was another black newspaper in town. Then there were some weird black newspapers. You know, like there was one black newspaper that just told gossip, you know, and they would tell you: "The shadow has been watching H.J. and D.S. in Jersey City and they better stop that." You know, I loved that, you know, because it was pure gossip.

But I guess the best one of those newspapers was the Newark Evening News that my father brought home. It was like a paper that styled itself more like the New York Times, but it came out in the afternoon. The Daily News was the morning newspaper, which as it turned out, had the most influence. I always taught the Daily News in school because I taught their style. You know, I mean, 'cause they had very backward content. But both of those tabloids -- the Daily News and the Post -- were opposite ideologically. But I used to teach that when I was teaching writing courses. That this is what you call "sensationalism." What do you mean about sensationalism? You mean a style of journalism that depends on your sensations, you know, that goes to quick, emotional kind of raise. You know? And sometimes you wished the papers that were a little more thoughtful, had a little more of that kind of sensationalism about the truth. You know what I mean. I mean, the New York Post and the Daily News had the sensationalism, which was absolutely full of lies. You know, absolutely sham. You know.