“Je Suis Charlie” or “I am Charlie” has garnered attention around the world after the massacre of seventeen people in Paris, France. Eleven of those were editors, cartoonists, and staff of weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo. This past week some 40 leaders from various nations and millions of french citizens walked hand in hand in solidarity for freedom of expression and the right of a weekly newspaper to print information that some considered offensive toward their religion.
I want to bring attention to all of the weekly publications around the world that can and do make a difference in the lives of those they serve, so keep on printing and publishing your thoughts for this complicated world of ours. It was not the BBC, NBC, CBS ABC, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, NEW York Times, LA Times or the many other worldwide daily news media outlets that brought international attention to this simple right of freedom of expression.
It is sad that some people’s beliefs are so warped that they can only resort to violence as a means of expression instead of using words to get their point of view understood. I must admit I did not truly understand the importance of the ‘Freedom of the Press’ or the right to assemble to correct things in our society until I took ownership of The Black Voice Newspaper and we began telling the story from our perspective.
The staff and publisher of Charlie Hebdo were expressing their thoughts and ideas in a society where people of any belief could express themselves and it’s too bad that those who died could not witness the millions who marched to say you did not die in vain. I am glad to have witnessed this historic demonstration in Paris by so many nations on behalf of this weekly newspaper.
“I am Charlie” could be the mantra of the many community weekly papers in America who challenge the wrongs in our society and are sometimes shunned by those in authority. In the early days of the Black Press some publishers were burned out and Ida B. Wells had to leave the south or be hung by people who hated her for writing editorials about Blacks being lynched.
As a former publisher of the Black Voice News during the days after the Tyisha Miller shooting, my wife and I were told to stop printing about the shooting if we wanted to be protected by the police. They told her, “we,” (meaning the police), “protect our friends.” This conversation with the police came about when we reported that KKK materials had been left at our newsstands as well as on our vehicle. The KKK placed leaflets on our newsstands in certain sections of the city and county of Riverside. Feeling as though the local police would not do anything, we reported the incidents to the FBI. Shortly after that, the city confiscated our stands, so our distribution would not be accessible to the general public. Our readers had to pick-up their copies in churches, barbershops, beauty salons, local restaurants, or in the mail. Thanks to then Mayor Ron Loveridge and a federal court judge, we got our newsstands put back on the streets.
So I join the many millions of people who are standing up for freedom of expression and the press regardless of race or religion. We must eradicate this menace of extremism of killing each other over words.
I am Charlie.