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Jackson Advocate rises from the ashes
Center for Living Democracy, http://www.livingdemocracy.org/, Wednesday 28 January 1998
While The New York Times and The Washington Post are filing stories on the firebombing Monday morning of a black weekly newspaper in Jackson, Miss., the national television news cameras have yet to arrive, according to Charles Tisdale, editor of The Jackson Advocate. "The only exception is BET [Black Entertainment Television], which is airing a story tonight," Tisdale told me late Wednesday evening.
Among the 20 incidents of vandalism against his paper, Tisdale recalled two incidents in particular. "This is not the first time I've been bombed," he said. "On December 22, 1981, we were bombed. Then on January 16, [1982,] we were firebombed again and machine gunned." Police apprehended the men responsible for both bombings, identifying them as "ex-Klansmen." "How they knew they were ex-Klan, I don't know," said Tisdale.
The latest arson, preceded by an anonymous and "chilling" telephone death threat ("They told me they were going to kill me when I stepped outside," said the editor.), resulted in an estimated $100,000 in damage. "My wife's computer had a complete melt-down."
Yet from the ashes, the paper continues its publication schedule. "Oh yes, we're coming out with an edition tomorrow," said Tisdale. "I know we'll have to move to new offices, though."
The Jackson Advocate is recognized overseas as an independent media outlet and an outspoken voice of dissent. "Our circulation numbers 20,000, only 7,400 of whom are local," said Tisdale. "Many of our subscribers are in Germany. The German news magazine Der Spiegel recently did a four-page story on us, and we've been featured in Le Monde and in other leading publications in Holland and England."
Past writers for The Jackson Advocate have included David DuBois, who follows in the footsteps of his stepfather W.E.B. DuBois in overseeing the Encyclopedia Africana in Ghana, and who lectures regularly at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass.
As a show of solidarity, The American News Service (http://www.americannews.com) is donating to the African-American owned newspaper a subscription to its national wire service on solutions news. About 20 percent of ANS stories focus on community-based efforts to improve race relations.
Peace, Jonathan J. Hutson Acting Director, Interracial Democracy Program Center for Living Democracy