FABOM-The Orlando Times
Florida’s Black Media Collaborates With Black Political Structure In Central Florida
BY DEVIN HEFLIN, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Photo Cutline: (l to r): Jimmie Williams, President Holden Heights Homeowners Association; Byler Henry, Westside Gazette; Vice President FABOM Jim Madison, Florida Sun; Parliamentarian FABOM Deborah Thompson, Metro News; June Ings; Commissioner Samuel B. Ings, District 6; Jacqueline M. Cockerham, Aide to Commissioner Ings; Treasurer FABOM Kevin T. Collins, The Orlando Times; and President FABOM Bobby R. Henry, Sr., Westside Gazette
ORLANDO - Imagine, a disempowered populace, a disappointed people, who despite their ability, were disabled and debilitated from advancing in an already rigged and rigid system which supported the preservation of the status quo over the stable questions of legitimacy of the papers authored by the authors who did little to preserve the rights of said people.
Dr. Wade Nobles defined racism as, “the ability to define someone’s reality and to have them accept the definition of that reality.”
Such was and remains the standard operating procedures of mainstream media which functions as a mental, social and verbal assault against Black survival, Black sustenance and Black self- determination.
Determined men and women sought and fought to change this obstacle into an opportunity. The derivations of Black owned media can in particular be traced to ancient Kemet and Nubia, with the various inscriptions on the walls of Luxor, Thebes and the Valley of the Kings.
Moreover, during the nonstop onslaught of plantation theology exacted on Black life within the United States, the Caribbean and the Continent, Black men and women stood strong, though they wanted us to sit. We sang hymns of freedom, though they wanted us silent and we created our own media when they wanted to desecrate our very image.
On the plantation, Black owned media such as Frederick Douglas’ North Star Newspaper, the journals of Ida B. Wells, the pre-eminent predecessors of Robert Abbot, founder of the Chicago Defender, George Padmore, its most prominent journalist, William Monroe Trotter’s the Boston Guardian and Marcus Garvey’s Negro World newspaper.
Of this proud tradition, the Florida Association of Black Owned Media, abbreviated FABOM, was born.
As Florida’s oldest and largest African-American media organization, its’ most influential Black media outlets reaching over four million Floridians each week.
The core mission of the organization is to tell the story of Black life and display its positivity, its intricacies and to create a dialogue, so says its President and Founder, Bobby Henry. Henry, Publisher of the West Side Gazette, circulates his publication out of Ft. Lauderdale and aspires to produce fair content and coverage for all.
“Black people are murdered daily and there’s little coverage. Though our hearts are with those who were affected by the tragedy in Parkland and their families, all tragedies should matter.” Henry said.
Through the organization, Henry has crafted an itinerary which will consist of town hall meetings, designed to create not only dialogue, but action.
“Most importantly, we want to let our community know we are here. We are their voice, they are ours.” Henry said.
While “majority” newspapers are struggling with dwindling subscriptions and readership, Black newspapers have a steady stream of readers who rely on their publications for information important to them. It’s common knowledge that Black newspapers are read by four to six individuals before thrown away.
African- Americans make up 19 percent of Florida’s population. FABOM has been the eyes, ears and voice of Black Floridians in a myriad of manners. The organization has convened forums with Florida gubernatorial, legislative, US Senate and Cabinet officers to get answers on issues of major importance to the community. The outfit plans to issue a report card on candidates and elected officials.
“The organization hopes to bring about change.” Jim Madison said. Madison is Vice President of FABOM and also serves as Publisher of the Florida Sun Newspaper.
These facts, this history and that tradition is what brought Black newspaper publishers from across the sunshine state to the City Beautiful on Thursday, March 22. Publishers corresponded with local politician, Commissioner Samuel B. Ings at Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church who hosted the organization’s visit.
As Commissioner of Orlando’s District 6, Ings remains outspoken of the issues in his District, which covers a portion of the Parramore community of Orlando. “We have to address the gentrification occurring, where Black history in specific is being erased. We also have to take action on the fact that Black people have a mistrust of law enforcement, which is warranted.”
Ings will collaborate with the organization further in producing the town halls, but also community giveaways and other educational materials to the community.
“The community also has a responsibility to be engaged with Black owned media, for Black owned media has the pulse.” Said Ings.
“As members of the Black Press our organization understands the importance of the need to have Black owned media. Our collective voices hold much power and we must conduct ourselves as such.” Stated Kevin T. Collins, The Orlando Times newspaper. “The community needs to support our Black media with more than articles and pictures, we are businesses that need revenue. Without financial support many of the champions of justice for Blacks will have to close, taking away a powerful voice within the Black community.”
Jimmie Williams, President of Holden Heights Neighborhood Homeowners Association, President/Founder of Drop D No Limits Foundation, and longtime resident of Parramore, was present at the meeting to give valuable input from the community.
“We need the Black Press even more today with the rampant displays of racism. Our stories must be told in the proper context. Keep up the great work Black press.” Williams said.
In this critical election year, FABOM is committed to keeping African-American news consumers informed and educated.
“Our job is to be ready for this election year. We want the elected officials and others to know that we will insist that our constituents are not ignored or discriminated against. We know that black lives matter, and we want to make sure our quality of life is the best it can be,” said FABOM President Bobby Henry, publisher of the Westside Gazette in Ft. Lauderdale.
The organization has existed for thirteen years.