Description: The battle between old and new media made its way to Chicago last week at the Unity Convention, a gathering attended by over 6,000 journalists of color. The dramatic events surrounding the case of the Jena Six, the name referring to a group of six African American teenagers charged with beating a white teenager in Jena, Louisiana in 2006, culminated when an estimated 20,000 activists gathered in the small town in support of the six teens in September. By many the mass protest is now considered the largest demonstration in the post-civil rights era. The case highlighted the shift towards digital activism as a tool for African Americans in their continued struggle for civil rights in the United States.
Tools Discussed: Radio and Blogs
What Is The Debate: During a workshop examining Jena Six’s legacy radio talk show host Tom Joyner said that black radio was used by civil rights leaders like Dr Martin Luther King to organize supporters of ending racial segregation. Joyner added that because he has an audience of eight million, he played a large role in mobilizing Jena 6 activists. However, blogger Jimi Izrael argued that the Afrosphere, a group of politically active black bloggers who feel left out of the mainstream media, was actually more influential in informing the world about the case.
Last November there was a contentious fight between black radio and the black blogosphere when radio talk show host Michael Baisden accused the internet activist group Color of Change of not appropriately distributing donated funds to help pay the legal fees for the Jena Six. However, when the organization proved its financial legitimacy, Baisden apologized. Color of Change continues to raises funds for the young men through its Jena Six Defense Fund online.