Sunday, March 18, 2018
Ed Gordon – Surviving, Thriving and Representing Black America
By Cora Jackson-Fossett, Staff Writer
Published March 8, 2018

Ed Gordon (courtesy photo)

Surviving can be tough for a Black man in America and to thrive in broadcasting is even more rare.  But, veteran newsman Ed Gordon has defied the odds and is now entering his 30th year as a successful journalist, who happens to be African American.

Summing up his milestone, Gordon simply states: “I’ve been very blessed to have three decades of work.  Not many African Americans, and especially Black men, stay in this business this long, so I’ve been very blessed that I’m still doing it.”

Gordon’s career began at the local public broadcasting affiliate in Detroit and from there, he went national, anchoring news programs at BET and becoming a national correspondent for NBC, CBS and National Public Radio.  His straightforward, no-nonsense approach landed him memorable interviews with kings, presidents, newsmakers and celebrities.

In recognition of his work, Gordon has earned several honors including an Emmy Award, an NAACP Image Award, and the prestigious Journalist of the Year award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

Regardless of the awards or assignment, the Detroit native has always remained cognizant that he represents Black America and specifically, Black men, and his goal is to make the African American community proud.

“There were older Black people who didn’t see a lot of us on television when I first started who were very proud of the representation I tried to give.  But I also understood that there was a certain image I wanted to give to Black men. I didn’t want to be the same image that we saw all of the time, shucking and jiving or the second fiddle dude, the cat that couldn’t quite present himself in a real [way],” explained Gordon.

“I wanted everybody to be proud when they saw me walk in and know that I don’t care if I’m with a celebrity or the president, I will handle my business and I’m going to be about my business.  So, that is what I tried to do for the last 30 years.”

New Show

Ed Gordon Show (courtesy photo)

As for his current projects, he recently debuted, “Ed Gordon,” a quarterly news magazine series available on the Brown Sugar app or via  The first show, “Am I Black Enough,” tackles a sensitive, yet prevalent, topic among African Americans.

“The wider community doesn’t know about it, but certainly that’s a question we all have dealt with in our lifetimes.  Whether you are dark as night or light as day, you had to balance, at one time or another, whether people saw you as Black enough in our community,” said Gordon.

“If you grew up middle-class, went to college, didn’t split verbs, there were some people who didn’t see you as Black enough. I’ve been light (skinned) all of my life with light eyes and sometimes you have to prove that you’re Black.  I’m one of the biggest “N” words you’ll ever find, but a lot of people would never know that because they assume certain things.”

The program features a number of Black celebrities of different hues sharing their insight on the subject such as actor Samuel L. Jackson, American Ballet Company ballerina Misty Copeland, and actor Anthony Anderson and creator/executive producer Kenya Barris of “Blackish.”

“Taye Diggs talks about being called a Black dot by us, not by White people.  He said, ‘The only thing that saved me was my mother gave me pride.  She had me look at Sidney Pointier and said ‘He’s as dark as you,’” noted Gordon, who also profiled everyday people as well.

One segment highlights two young women in their 20s, one dark-skinned originally from Cameroon and the other biracial and very light-skinned.  Even though both women have different skin colors, they both encountered racist comments from other African Americans.

“The light one won Miss Black University of Texas, but then she got a lot of grief because people said, ‘You’re too light.  You’re not Black enough.’  To the sister from Cameroon, people said, ‘Oh you’re cute, especially for a dark girl,’ or ‘You’re not cute because you’re dark.’ In 2018, should we really be worried about our skin color?” wondered Gordon, who added that he hopes the program will help Blacks eliminate prejudiced words against each other.

Notable Interviews

Interviews with newsmakers-of-the-day are prominent throughout Gordon’s career.  He spoke with President George H.W. Bush following the 1992 L.A. civil unrest. His series, “Conversations with Ed Gordon,” showcased hour-long discussions with President Bill Clinton, actor Sidney Poitier and singer Whitney Houston.

He has asked questions of President Obama along with world icon Nelson Mandela, entertainer Michael Jackson, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, rapper Tupac Shakur and former NFL star O.J. Simpson.  But Simpson, Shakur and Mandala hold distinctive spots in his memories, admitted Gordon.

Gordon, who conducted the first interview with Simpson after O.J. was acquitted of murdering Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman, recalled that the report “catapulted me to a different stratosphere.  Black people knew me before O.J.  Everybody knew me after O.J.  In terms of fame, that was certainly it.”

With Shakur, Gordon had a big brother-little brother relationship that developed after Gordon interviewed him.  Remembering that conversation, Gordon said, “He said to me, ‘Would you mind if I call you from time-to-time? I just want to find out how to be a man, the best man I can be and I’m looking for men who can help me out.’ Tupac wanted that and so I was happy, for whatever brief time, to be that one for him.”

Being with Mandela was truly unforgettable to Gordon, who said, “I felt something around him. He was a different person. He was special.  I think there are a few people put on this earth and they’re special and I think he was one of them.”

Omarosa Incident

Last August, Gordon had a explosive encounter with then-White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman during the NABJ convention.  The highly publicized incident went viral, but not because Gordon talked about it.  In fact, when the Sentinel mentioned it, he responded, “I just think we’re spending too much time on Omarosa. Omarosa is a great marketer.  She’s built a space for herself, a brand for herself, but in the grand scheme of things, she has no clout or power in Black America.

“God bless her as a Black woman, but outside of that as it relates to Black America, Omarosa ain’t doing much for us that means a hill of beans,” insisted Gordon.

According to Gordon, the flare-up occurred after Manigault-Newman attempted to commandeer the panel Gordon was moderating and he resisted her efforts.

“I’ve seen her try to take over a panel before and I wasn’t going to have that,” said Gordon. “Did it ultimately lose control? Yes. Was it a little ghetto? Yes.  Did the Detroit side of me come out? Yes.  All of those things.

“But again, I just think it became another viral moment that really could have been a moment about what that panel was supposed to be about and that was the issue that we still have in our community about policing in Black America.”

Future of Black America

Regarding policing in Black America, Gordon suggested that African Americans must “believe you can make a difference and get involved” through voting and holding elected officials accountable.

Gordon declared, “We have to believe ourselves empowered. You have to believe you can make a change. How many times can we hold a press conference to say another Black person killed suspiciously by police?  There’s action to be taken, whether it’s walk off work, head to D.C. and say you will not get another vote until you deal with it. We can move to make change,” said Gordon.

“It’s about all of us trying to put our best foot forward for the ones we love, not just people in our family.”

Categories: National | News | News (Entertainment) | TV
Tags: | | | |

Get the Los Angeles Sentinel App!



Photo of the Day

LA Sentinel
in your pocket:

© 2018 Los Angeles Sentinel All Rights Reserved • A Bakewell Media Publication

Contact UsAboutMedia KitCorrections & Misprints

Terms of ServicePrivacy Policy

LA Watts TimesTaste of Soul

Close / I'm already on the list

Subscribe Today!

Don't be limited anymore! Subscribe Now »

** Existing subscribers, please Login / Register for Digital »

Subscribe to The Los Angeles Sentinel for only $5.99 $3.99 per month, with 1 month free!

Relax in comfort each week as you read the printed newspaper on your own time, delivered weekly to your home or office. This subscription also includes UNLIMITED DIGITAL ACCESS for all of your devices. Includes FREE shipping! One easy payment of $3.99/month gets you:

Subscribe Now »