January 20, 2009 was a day that will be remembered by many. This was one of the most historic days in the long history of our country. It was a day that I could not pull myself away from my TV. I rejoiced, I cried, I clapped, I cheered and I was overwhelmed with emotions.
I enjoyed the events of the day so much that I did not want the day to end. I hurried to the newsstands the next morning, where I picked up the Journal and the Gazette. I was shocked and very disappointed to see that there was no coverage of the inauguration either on the front page or in the entire Gazette. I couldn’t wrap my mind around why our paper would pass this historic even by and not cover it. I made myself believe, although there were all the chances in the world to get something in the paper, that time was a problem. I was sure Friday would be a different story.
Friday I received a phone call from a relative saying, “You won’t believe this, but there is nothing in the paper about the inauguration today either.” I spoke with a representative of the paper and was told that basically the paper is a local paper and with such a small staff it is difficult to cover national stories unless the story is linked to the community or a community event.
I’m sure all can’t understand this but the inauguration was one of our community’s most important events. More importantly, our newspaper has the same responsibilities as other newspapers across the country and that is to provide the citizens with local, state and national coverage of major events and occurences. To not do so implies that this newspaper picks and chooses stories based on political ideologies or values of its editor, which is a direct violation of the principles and core values of the press. Regardless of whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or independent, the election of the 44th president of the Unites States should be covered in your newspaper. There is really no reason, excuse or explanation that can be given as to why it was not covered other than personal, political or racial problems with President Barack Obama.
I grew up in a time where I could pretty much go wherever I felt like going: restaurants, stores or public offices. I remember my “big mama” talking about the fact that she couldn’t do that growing up. She was not able to enjoy a hamburger at the local downtown drugstore corner or use the same restroom at the filling station that her white neighbors from across the road could. My “big mama” saw voting as a privilege and a responsibility. She never missed her opportunity to vote once the God given right was given to her. She went to the polls in good health, she went when she was on a cane, and finally she went when she was in a wheel chair. The progress we have made as a society arguably makes this inauguration a community event. My “big mama” is gone now, but because of our community’s mothers and fathers, and “big mama’s” and “big daddy’s” enduring the wrongs of the past, President Obama’s inauguration was a worldwide community event. More importantly, it is a definitive example that the words that make up our Declaration of Independence and US Constitution are representative of our reality as opposed to our hopes.
I write this letter not just for me or my boys or my “big mama.” I write this letter for everyone who was hurt by our local paper for putting no value on such a historical event. I write this letter for all those who are furious that our local paper didn’t feel it necessary to put one picture or article in the paper about this wonderful day. I write this letter to all those who felt this letter was unnecessary. You have no understanding, probably because you have never felt the color of your skin caused you to be treated unfairly. You may have never told your children that they could be or do anything in life while knowing that society would see them differently as an African American citizen and they would have limits. I write this letter to say that people of our great country have chosen to elect a wonderful African American to be our President, and we as a city should stop living in the past and start living as Americans.
Hope B. Bradley