The Politics of Fighting Media Exclusion

Left to right: Elmer Smith, Barbara Grant, Cherri Gregg and Mustafa Rashed. | Photos courtesy of Felicia Harris.

Left to right: Elmer Smith, Barbara Grant, Cherri Gregg and Mustafa Rashed. | Photos courtesy of Felicia Harris.

The much-criticized October cover of Philadelphia magazine — which features a photo of seven city public schoolchildren, none of whom are African-American — was the jumping-off point Wednesday night for a wide-ranging political strategy roundtable on the lack of diversity in mainstream newsrooms and how best to pressure and influence news organizations so that they more accurately reflect the communities they cover.

Front and center was Philly Mag, and that October cover.

Roundtable moderator Marshall Paul Mitchell, pastor of the Salem Baptist Church of Jenkintown, opened the discussion in part by saying: “If you think there’s an educational problem for white students in Philadelphia, you should see what the problems look like for African-American and Latino and Asian students.”

Philadelphia magazine editor Tom McGrath apologized for the cover three weeks ago, shortly after it hit newsstands. McGrath’s apology read, in part, “To include not even one African-American child on the cover fails to reflect not just the diversity that exists at the Greenfield School (where the photo was taken), but also that within the city of Philadelphia.” Metro Corp, which owns Philadelphia magazine, has also released a new diversity policy.

Panelist Cherri Gregg, a KYW Newsradio reporter and president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ), recalled that Philly Mag made similar (though less detailed) public statements following the publication of the controversial article “Being White in Philly,” in the March 2013 issue of the magazine.

And yet, she and other panelists said, the magazine has failed in the time since to either diversify its newsroom or to devote meaningful coverage to people of color.

“Every cover they do is what it’s like to be white in Philadelphia,” said Barbara Grant, owner of Cardenas-Grant Communications.

Said Gregg: “I feel like we have to stand up and say, ‘You can’t ignore us. We are here and we do matter.'”
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Hundreds Celebrate Jerry Mondesire’s Life

President of the Pennsylvania NAACP, Jerome Mondesire, left addresses the media at a news conference announcing Federal Lawsuit against the Lebanon, Pa School District Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 in Lebanon, Pa. At right is attorney Michael Churchill of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia which is also named in the suit. (AP Photos/Bradley C Bower)

Jerry Mondesire | Photo by Bradley C. Bower/AP

A power-packed crowd of hundreds, including Mayor Michael Nutter, former Gov. Ed Rendell and likely next mayor Jim Kenney, said goodbye to Jerry Mondesire at Bright Hope Baptist Church on Wednesday. Mondesire died on October 4th after suffering a brain aneurysm.

Throughout the two-and-a-half-hour-long funeral service, family members, friends and dignitaries paid tribute to the longtime president of the Philadelphia NAACP. They described Mondesire as a tough-as-nails advocate for African-Americans and low-income residents. They said he was brutally honest, highly intelligent, and known for occasionally using a four-letter word to get his point across.

“He fought for the most basic right that all of us have, and that is the the right to vote,” said Rev. William Moore. “He was a voice for children who wanted to get an education.”

Several politicians also said Mondesire played a key role in their personal success. “I am who I am today because of Jerry Mondesire,” said District Attorney Seth Williams.

Mondesire got involved in politics early, pushing for the City College of New York to accept more students of color while he was enrolled. Later, he served as the assistant city desk editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, editor-in-chief of the Philadelphia Sunday SUN, and co-founder of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. He also worked as a top aide to the late U.S. Congressman William Gray, battled fiercely against Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, and has been credited with helping to grow the local NACCP chapter’s membership rolls. Read more »

Obama’s DOJ to Release 6,000 Prisoners

The NAACP's Annual Convention is here in Philly this week, and features dozens of speakers, including President Obama, former President Clinton, Mayor Nutter, and many more. There's also a host of panels, discussions, workshops, and celebrations throughout the multi-day event. Through July 15th, various times and prices, Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch Street

The NAACP’s Annual Convention is here in Philly in July featured dozens of speakers, including President Obama.

Good morning, Philadelphia. Here is what you need to know today.

Last July, President Obama visited Philly and called for transformation of the criminal justice system. Now he’s following through — by releasing 6,000 federal prisoners.

“Mass incarceration makes our country worse off, and we’ve got to do something about it,” Obama said in Philly. Now, the Washington Post reports, his Justice Department is going to release 6,000 prisoners “to reduce overcrowding and provide relief to drug offenders who received harsh sentences over the past three decades.” A change in sentencing guidelines could result in early releases for 46,000 of the nation’s drug offenders.

Prison will be increasingly reserved for violent offenders, instead. “I think you can send the correct message which is – illegal drug use won’t be tolerated,” Sen. Bob Casey told the Sinclair Broadcast Group. “But at the same time we’ve got to make sure we have the resources to track down and to incarcerate the most violent members in our society.” Read more »

Remembering Philadelphia NAACP Leader Jerry Mondesire

President of the Pennsylvania NAACP, Jerome Mondesire, left addresses the media at a news conference announcing Federal Lawsuit against the Lebanon, Pa School District Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 in Lebanon, Pa. At right is attorney Michael Churchill of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia which is also named in the suit. (AP Photos/Bradley C Bower)

Jerry Mondesire | Photo by Bradley C. Bower/AP

When the NAACP brought its 106th Annual Convention to Philadelphia this summer, the cloud of controversy regarding the regional chapter was ever-present — and reluctantly discussed. For 17 years, J. Whyatt “Jerry” Mondesire served as president of the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP, and his removal months earlier from the position for alleged financial impropriety presented a public relations problem for the civil rights organization. When Mondesire died six days shy of his 66th birthday, questions of his impact on the future of Philadelphia’s community abounded. Read more »

What They’re Saying About Jerry Mondesire

President of the NAACP's state conference, J. Wyatt Mondesire, middle, speaks to people gathered to demonstrate the opposition of Pennsylvania's new voter identification law during the NAACP voter ID rally, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court justices are scheduled to hear arguments over whether a new law requiring each voter to show valid photo identification poses an unnecessary threat to the right to vote. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

J. Whyatt Mondesire, middle, is seen in 2012 speaking to people gathered to demonstrate the opposition of Pennsylvania’s voter identification law at an NAACP rally. The law has since been struck down. | Photo by Michael Perez/AP

This morning, we reported that longtime Philadelphia NAACP leader J. Whyatt “Jerry” Mondesire died Sunday night at age 65. He reportedly suffered a brain aneurysm while undergoing dialysis last week. Mondesire served as an editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer, publisher of the Philadelphia Sun, and head of the local NAACP chapter from 1991 to 2014. Here’s what officials and community leaders are saying about Mondesire:
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Obama, in Philly, Calls for Transformation of Criminal Justice System


President Obama speaks Tuesday to the NAACP.

President Obama speaks Tuesday to the NAACP. (From the live video feed.)

President Obama called for an overhaul of the criminal justice system Tuesday in Philadelphia, telling the national convention of the NAACP that the current system is skewed by race and wealth.

He said more Americans had come to understand the need for reform ““partly because of cameras, partly because of tragedy, partly because the statistics cannot be denied anymore.”

Obama took the stage in the main hall nearly two hours after his scheduled 3:05 p.m. appearance, and launched quickly into the meat of his speech, rattling off a list of numbers and statistics to illustrate his point that criminal justice system has grown oppressive and costly: Read more »

Obama in Philly Today for NAACP

Photo | Jeff Fusco

President Obama visited Philadelphia last fall to campaign for gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf.Photo | Jeff Fusco

President Obama will be in town today to address the national convention of the NAACP, where he’s expected to outline criminal justice reform proposals. He’ll also travel to The Rittenhouse Hotel for a late-afternoon meeting with senior party officials.

The president arrives at Philadelphia International Airport shortly after 2 p.m., then address the convention shortly after 3 p.m.  He’ll go to the Rittenhouse for the closed-door party meeting at 4:10 p.m., then lift off from the airport at 5:50 p.m. Read more »

Ejected Philly NAACP Leader Jerry Mondesire Feted on Eve of National Convention

Jerry Mondesire via NAACP.

Jerry Mondesire via NAACP.

The 106th NAACP National Convention is now in full swing at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, with President Barack Obama and Bill Clinton scheduled to address the thousands in attendance this week. But one man who was involved in bringing the NAACP National Convention to Philadelphia is absent from the lineup of confirmed guests and speakers: Jerry Mondesire, the former head of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP. Read more »

Shark Tank Casting Call in Philly This Weekend

Beatrice Fischel-Bock, Madeline Fraser and Elizabeth Grover of ZOOM Interiors.

Beatrice Fischel-Bock, Madeline Fraser and Elizabeth Grover of ZOOM Interiors pitching their business on Shark Tank.

Shark Tank is one of the rare things that can take a business from great idea to household name. Now it’s producers are coming to Philly to hear pitches from entrepreneurs hoping to eventually make a deal with likes of Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner.

The casting call is part of the NAACP Annual Convention that’s in town from July 11-15. (It features talks from heavy hitters like Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.) Read more »

Obama to Address NAACP in Philadelphia

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

The NAACP announced Wednesday President Barack Obama will address the group’s annual conference, which is being held in Philadelphia later this month.

“We are honored to welcome President Obama back to our NAACP national convention,” NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock said in a release. “Our members are looking forward to President Obama delivering a powerful message that reinforces our commitment to being champions for civil and human rights in the 21st century.”

Obama has addressed the NAACP once before, in 2009 in New York. Read more »

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