National radio talk-show host Joe Madison got to the heart of a Mississippi controversy during his keynote address at Friday’s Moss Point-Jackson County NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet at the Hilton Garden Inn. He declared his support for the efforts of Curley Clark, president of the NAACP chapter, to have the Confederate battle emblem removed from the Mississippi flag.
“Do you really want to maintain that emblem as your symbol in this modern world?” Madison, who’s known as The Black Eagle, asked the audience of about 200 black and white residents. Noting 74 percent of the world’s population is people of color, he disputed the argument by advocates of the Confederate emblem that it’s a matter of preserving one’s heritage.
Evoking images of today’s competitive global economy, he said: “The question now has to be asked in 2017, living in a town in which you have global businesses, they want to know if they live in a town that’s part of the 21st century or still living in the 19th century.
“It’s how you are viewed, Mississippi, to the rest of the world.”
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The Sirius XM radio commentator, who has held office at various levels of the NAACP, quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about today’s divisive climate: “The two most dangerous things in the planet is sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
“With all the social media and all the ability to communicate,” Madison said, “we actually live in the golden age of ignorance. What’s going on now is confusing today, not only on the radio but in private conversations.
“In America, we are culturally conditioned to believe that whites are superior and blacks are inferior. What you have to do is work against that cultural conditioning.
“Unfortunately, we as blacks often ourselves emulate that perception.”
Madison gained national notoriety when he broke a Guinness World Record by completing a 52-hour live broadcast that raised $200,000 for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. He also became the first American broadcaster in more than 50 years to broadcast live from Cuba after President Barack Obama redefined the two contries’ relationship. He has spearheaded relief efforts in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and several Gulf states after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, and organized peaceful demonstrations in Sudan.
Also at the banquet, President Clark presented awards to four area notables:
▪ Humanitarian of the Year: Retired longtime Jackson County Circuit Clerk Joe Martin
▪ Outstanding Achievement: Moss Point High School’s girls powerlifting team
▪ Outstanding Community Service: Lea Campbell, founder of social-justice organization Mississippi Rising
▪ Volunteer of the Year: Nicholas Robinson, a leader with the International Longshoremens Association.