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Advocacy Journalism

May 16, 2011



 There’s an old saying that goes like this:  whoever keeps silent, consents.  But sometimes silence says a lot, and it doesn’t consent at all.

 When black Americans began to protest being treated as less than human, they began the  Civil Rights Movement.  Their was no internet back then, and no Twitter, no cellphones with video recorders, and no social media.  Their protests and marches would have been just them and the cops and the hot sun and the hatred, if it hadn’t been for television.  Itwas television that brought the struggle into the homes and lives of average Americans.   All of a sudden, the violence and the inhumanity couldn’t be dragged into the  station, out of sight.  It just couldn’t be hidden any more.  People were confronted by it, and Americans who’d had no idea of what living under Jim Crow laws was like, were able to finally see and understand how men and women would choose death if they couldn’t be free.

The television networks and TV reporters and journalists took huge risks in even reporting on the Movement at all.  The violence that hadalready spilled into the streets could spill into their streets just as easily, because good old boys didn’t take kindly to anyone messing around with their traditional way of life.  Americans of all colors became targets when they stood with black Americans.  Because of that, many times images weren’t accompanied by overt advocacy for marchers and protestors– but the advocacy was there anyway.  It was in the silence, in daring to bring prejudice and hatred into the light of day, where it could be seen for what it was.  The images spoke for themselves and no thinking, decent man could see them and not stand up for what they knew to be right.




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