Chicago Tribune credits bloggers for magnitude of Jena protests – Dallas South quoted

chicagotribune_logo.pngHoward Witt of the Chicago Tribune writes a thoughtful article regarding the impact of African-American Bloggers on the Jena 6 protest.  His assertions are unique and may seem like a stretch to some.

The article under the headline Blogs Help Drive Jena protests, quotes Rev. Al Sharpton (National Action Network), James Rucker from Color of Change , and someone else you may know. Highlights from the article include the following:

*   "Ten years ago this couldn't have happened," said (Rev. Al) Sharpton, who said he first heard about the Jena case on the Internet. "You didn't have the Internet and you didn't have black blogs and you didn't have national radio shows. Now we can talk to all of black America every day. We've been able to form our own underground railroad of information…"

*   "When Rev. Jackson or Rev. Sharpton or other recognized leaders get involved, that's helpful, and it helps them—they can see where momentum is building around an issue," said James Rucker, the 38-year-old founder of Color of Change, an Internet-based civil rights group that has more than 280,000 subscribers. "You can argue they came late to Jena, but they are here now, which is good."

*   "In traditional civil rights groups, there's a pattern—you call a meeting, you see when everybody can get together, you have to decide where to meet," said Shawn Williams, 33, a pharmaceutical salesman and former college NAACP leader who runs the popular Dallas South Blog.

"All that takes time," Williams added. "When you look at how this civil rights movement is working, once something gets out there, the action is immediate—here's what we're going to write about, here's the petition, here's the protest. It takes place within minutes, hours and days, not weeks or months."

I was humbled by the fact the Mr. Witt would choose to interview me with so many great Black Bloggers out there.  He failed to mention in his article that his original Tribune story is what tipped many of us off to the goings on in Jena.

I like his article regarding internet activism, yet as I told him in our conversation on Monday, our black blogging networks might not exist were it not for the likes of Rev. Sharpton and Rev. Jackson.  There seems to be a push by many to diminish the roles of these two great men.  

I agree with Mr. Rucker, it doesn't matter when they jumped on board, they're here now.  Many whites and conservative blacks have long felt that Jackson & Sharpton only appear at these events for the photo op.  This attitude is beginning to seep into the comments of more and more progressive minded African-Americans.

Some of that feeling comes from the fact that the old guard doesn't seem to be bringing up any new blood behind them. My man Mike Davis at Dallas Progress calls it "passing the torch sideways."

There are a number of younger black theologians who are more than capable of stepping up to the challenge.  Most of them however, unlike Rev. Jackson and Sharpton, run full time ministries.  The masses would be encouraged by new faces on the socio-political scene as Jackson, Sharpton, and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan prepare to exit stage left.

But I guess that's part of the point Mr. Witt's article is making.  We no longer have to wait on someone to tell us what to get mad about, we can get mad on our own.  And now, with the advent of the Afrosphere and Black Blogosphere, I know that if I'm man,somebody else out there is probably mad too. 

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