This is the audio from our radio interview on KWVA-FM, University of Oregon.
Written by Eddie L. Madison III
A quick four years has passed since I sat down to write the introduction for what is planned as an eventual book. It’s true what they say about time passing faster as you get older. I had come to this project with so much conviction. But in the blink of an eye four years has gone by and much has transpired.
I now know that feeling of loss that no one can prepare you for and that never fully heals. My sister Karyn, brother David and I lost our mom — and my dad lost his loving wife — nearly three years ago to a sudden and still unexplained illness. As I write the words I still find it difficult to believe. Davetta Cooksey Madison committed her life to a career in teaching and the three of us were her star students well into our own middle age.
It has taken these three years of mourning to brave the thought of recommitting personal sentiments to paper. I’ve learned to live with the fact she is no longer a phone call or a plane ride away — and yet in some inexplicable way I sense her closer in spirit.
This is to be a project about my relationship with my father — but sit either of us down and we’ll fill you ear with acknowledgements of my mom. Karyn and David would do the same.
Over the years our busy lives, careers and ambitions may have separated us geographically but never emotionally. Our conversations were more frequently over the phone, mixed with holiday and other special times together. Like many sons I shared a very close bond with my mother. However, my father has always been – and still is the most significant role model in my life.
That is pretty understandable – given the fact that we share the same name, along with my father’s father. We look very much alike and, as you will discover, have so many similar interests.
I’ve known many people that have estranged relationships with one if not both of their parents. But conflict has never been a part of our story. There continues to be a steadfast bond between us.
I imagine that the decision to commit one’s personal story to paper must not be easy for anyone. First come the internal conversations you have with yourself that force you to ask some really tough questions. “Is this project just a way of stroking your ego? Or do you really have something to say that will interest and possibly even inspire others?”
I was certain we had both independently asked ourselves these questions many times. But now, some twenty years later, amid our celebration of Christmas, any reservations about the merits of such a project were quickly fading, I sat across from my father, listened to his familiar words charismatically expressed in an equally familiar way — and felt a very familiar feeling of genuine pride.
I had grown up around and therefore witnessed much of his realization of his own personal goals and aspirations. And he had certainly supported me over the years in realizing mine. It was in that moment, as he once again raised the subject of collaborating on book– that I knew this time we would make it happen.
Ours is a story of the power of dreams – and having the courage and conviction to make them real. For my dad, it meant daring to believe he could create an outstanding career in the media for himself in the midst of racial intolerance and a backdrop of Jim Crow laws that left few opportunities for people of color. It meant making such a positive impression as earnest newspaper delivery boy in his teens that the publishers made him their editor in his twenties. It meant having the courage to move his young family from the modest southern plains of Tulsa, Oklahoma to the booming big city of Chicago, where he became the first Black to join the editorial staff of the Chicago Tribune. And as if that wasn’t enough, moving them once again, this time to the nation’s capitol, where he pursued his passion for the broadcasting industry. He became the first Black manager at Washington’s ABC network affiliate. In their time of peril, he was responsible for saving their FCC license, and while there founded a national trade association. Not to mention his civic accomplishments, including having been a catalyst behind the creation of a national memorial to commemorate the achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King. What a tremendous role model to have and to look up to.
As these pages unfold you will learn more of his story – and mine. There are accolades mixed with agony, a great many successes mixed with just as many setbacks. We have both witnessed and participated in making history and have both worked with major celebrities and other public figures.
However, the intent of sharing these pages is not to gloat about two lives touched by the limelight. It is to share that dreams are possible. All accomplishments begin with a glimmer of hope — with a spark of a belief that they are possible – regardless of one’s circumstances.
Written by Eddie L. Madison, Jr.
It is indeed a blessing that struck twice in two back-to-back generations when my son, Eddie III, and I both realized at an early age that we wanted careers in the media. We also discovered early that if one has a passion for his or her career choice, going about it on a daily basis is not like what most people view as WORK. Father and son have a passion for journalism, print and broadcasting, and now this fascinating new thing called the Internet now in its twentieth year.
I knew old Booker T. Washington High School in my native Tulsa, Oklahoma-once called “The Oil Capital of the World”, that I wanted to be a communicator. I served on the Washington News Flash and the Radio Club. We had the newspaper, including beloved Virginia Maxville, now deceased, who wrote a gossip column. And speaking of passion, most of the boys hated the gossip stuff. The radio segment was more like make believe rather than what would have been “reality radio” for the 1940s. I attribute my decision to go into journalism on three things: (1) My love for the English language, where I made some of my best grades from day one; (2) My love and fascination for history, what one of my college professors called “past actuality”; and my preference for variety and a challenge awaiting me each day, along with meting new people and traveling. Now try this on for size: My mom’s major at the University of Nebraska was English, and my dad’s major, at the same institution of higher learning was history. Both were part of group from Oklahoma who pioneered at Nebraska, which like Oberlin, in Ohio, accepted African Americans in the late 1920s. My mother was a graduate of an earlier incarnation of Booker T. Washington High School, and my father finished high school at nearby Sand Springs high school, also named for the famed black educator. Finishing high school just ahead of the Great Depression had its obvious disadvantages. More about that later.
In my son’s case, the bug bit him in elementary school. My journalism books fascinated him. He was contacting the Federal Communications Commission while still a youngster at Brightwood Elementary School. He was inquiring about FCC rules for his base station; the Commission has limitations on the distance the signal can carry from its point of origin. His station’s call letters were WAPT. He also published his little newspaper. We had to have a father-son conversation over the fact that his publication costs exceeded his income. He also used my 8 mm Bell & Howell camera to produce an animated motion picture. Did this kid know what he wanted to be when he grew up or what?
I should note early on that Eddie III is called Lawrence in the family circle. That’s the middle name for me, Eddie Jr.; my first born, Eddie III; and my late father, Eddie Sr.
Our initials spell elm – like the tree of the same name. I adopted Three Elms & Associates for my public relations/management consulting business in the early 1960s with offices in the National Press Club Building. The operation was Plan B if someone, heaven forbid, dropped a pink slip on me – now a father of three and husband of the former Davetta Jayn Cooksey, who became my lovely bride on November 17, 1956. Unfortunately, we lost her on May 24, 2006. Her older sister, Emily, passed away less than 24 hours on the following day. We were just six months shy of 50 years of living first in Oklahoma, then a move to Chicago, followed by work in Washington, D.C. for nearly 30 years.
Following joint services by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, we had combined funeral services the next day at First Baptist Church North Tulsa. My wife, Emily, and their other siblings were from three generations of Baptist ministers: The Reverends Rufus Cooksey, great grandfather; David C. Cooksey, Sr.; grandfather; and David C. Cooksey, Jr., father, who officiated at our wedding, assisted by my pastor, the Rev. Ben H. Hill, pastor of Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church. My wife’s father followed her grandfather as pastor of Tulsa’s Greater Union Baptist Church.
Reverend Hill wrote editorials for The Oklahoma Eagle, where I started as a newsboy at age eight, and upon completion of journalism training at historic Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri, I started my long career in journalism. I knew active military duty was awaiting me. So, after six months of service, I was inducted into the U.S. Army. After two years active duty, I returned to The Eagle as editor—in-chief and general manager.
I saw Richard Nixon for the first time when he was campaigning for Vice President with Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the war hero. I am assuming this was in 1952, as I am identified as associate editor of The Oklahoma Eagle. (This is the title I had before returning after military service when I became editor-in-chief and general manager.) I interviewed Nixon, who was accompanied by his wife, Patricia, as they sat in a convertible in front of the old Eagle office. I made it a point to ask the candidate if the story about the Nixons having a restrictive covenant clause in their property in California. No answer to the question was forthcoming.
This was the Nixon campaign in which he got into trouble about accepting gifts, one of which was a dog for his daughter. He said in an interview he would not return the pet.
There was talk about dumping him from the race.
In the 1960 race for President, I saw Nixon again from a distance at the first Kennedy-Nixon debate at WBBM-TV (CBS) in Chicago. Only the three network correspondents covered from the studio. The rest of us covered from a large monitor in a nearby room. We saw the candidates as the entered the studio. As those who recall the event, Nixon complained about his appearance on camera, something about five o’clock shadow. The rest is history.
Shown with me in the photo are E. L. Goodwin, Sr., publisher of The Eagle, and Lee K. Turpin, advertising manager.
Talk about being In the right place at the right time, the day that I met actress Doris Day I was pinch-hitting for Chicago Defender entertainment editor Al Monroe. Not only did I interview her for the newspaper, I also talked with her on WAIT Radio. The event involved Miss Day’s getting an award for “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies”. Her manager asked if any of the reporters wanted to have their picture taken with the actress. Of course, I answered in the affirmative. After this accidentally meeting, I followed her career through the years. I recently saw an update on her whereabouts on “Inside Edition” and a story in one of tabloids about her having problems with her grandchildren. As I recall, she is 81 years old.
In May 1961, I covered the first summit meeting of the independent nations of Africa as correspondent for the Associated Negro Press. ANP, as the Chicago-based agency was known, was headed by Claude A. Barnett. It serviced most of the black-owned newspapers throughout the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean.
Barnett and his wife, Etta Moten who was the second to play the role of Bess in “Porgy and Bess”, had begun traveling to Africa beginning in 1947, 10 years before Ghana’s independence from Great Britain—ending its colonial label —the Gold Coast.
Mr. Barnett lured me away from the Chicago Daily Defender with the offer of a salary increase and a trip to Africa.
This offer had already pulled in Enoc P. Waters, Jr., another Defender staffer who was with that paper when it went daily in 1956. Copy desk chief at ANP at the time was Albert Barnett, no relation to Claude, who was the son of Ferdinand Barnett, first black member of the Illinois state legislature, editor of a newspaper, and husband of Ida B. Wells, a legend in Illinois history. Barney, as we called Albert Barnett, said his stepmother threatened to put him out of the house for his mischievous behavior.
It seems that I was surrounded by history working at ANP. Claude Barnett conceived the idea of a service for black newspapers while working as a field director for the Defender, founded in 1905 by Robert S. Abbott. He wanted the service to be delivered via wire like the Associated Press and United Press International. However, the black papers failed to support the idea, and Barnett had to continue delivery through the U.S. mail. I am proud to note that when Barney died, his family called on me to serve as an active pallbearer—one of only two times I have acted in this capacity. (The other instance was pallbearer for Wilbur Sewell, who followed me as president of Mu Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., in Washington.)
The trip to Africa was a mind-boggling experience. As soon as I stepped of the plane and set foot on African soil, all of the myths about this vast wealthy and much-exploited continent exploded. As I have joked with family and friends over the years, I never at any time ran into Tarzan.
On the more serious side, I interviewed 17 heads of state, including conference host William S. Tubman, president of Liberia; Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie; Sylvanus Olympio, president of Togo, a former businessman with Unilever who spoke five languages, and who tragically was assassinated in front of the U.S. Embassy; Sir Abubakar Tafewa Balewa, prime minister of Nigeria who came from the northern part of his country.
I should mention that Claude Barnett was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha. In addition to giving me a special gift for President Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s famous leader, he told me about the Alpha chapter in Monrovia, where a U.S. Army unit was serving. Upon arrival I met some of the brothers, and they responded by holding a party in my honor. In another stop on the continent, I met the son of Alpha founder Vertner Woodson Tandy, who provided me with limousine service. (I cannot recall Tandy’s first name or the country at this time.)
It should be noted that the official name of the summit meeting was the Monrovia Conference of African and Malagasy States. This meeting paved the way for the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now called the African Union.
This was my first time to meet the offspring of a Jewel (name of affection for Alpha founders). I did meet three founders, Jewels Henry Arthur Callis, Nathaniel Allison Murray, and George Biddle Kelley, at the Tri-Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, while still a student at Lincoln University in 1951. I was able to get to know Brother Callis, a retired internist in Washington, who was close to the brotherhood. I even had a picture of him in a 1906 Cornell sweater.
As I have said before in public settings, I consider my trip to Africa and getting to know Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on a personal level as the highlights of my career among many other cutting edge events.
Since I had trained for broadcasting at the University of Tulsa, earning a master’s degree in 1959 was glad to be hired after a 10-year wait for barriers to drop. I was placed in News and Public Affairs, and shared an office with then anchor Joseph McCaffrey. However, after about six months, I was kicked upstairs as they say to become corporate manager of community services. Somewhere in my resume or biographical sketch I included that I was the recipient of a Leader in Community Service Award.
After this change in assignments, I began reporting daily at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson, located on Connecticut Avenue in Washington. Howard Roycroft, senior attorney shown in the picture, was my right hand man in the project. I wrote what I thought was relevant for the Channel 7 to get its license back, and Howard would give it his nod of approval. The document was favorably received the Federal Communications Commission. The picture here reports the ruling sustaining the FCC’s action by the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Background: A coalition of citizens’ organizations had filed a petition to deny the renewal of Channel 7’s license in 1969. Our document was prepared as a rebuttal. The license renewal application had a two-edged thrust – granting renewal and at the same time committing the station and its management to covering the community in its programming, and improving its record hiring and promotions of minorities. The demographics of Washington, D.C., the city of license, dictated such a posture.
My role in this case certainly had something to do with my receiving the backing of the Washington Star Station Group in the establishment of the National Broadcast Association for Community Affairs (NBACA).
WMAL-TV (now WJLA-TV owned by Allbritton Communications) was the company’s flagship station in the Nation’s Capital. It was an expensive property in 1969-72 dollars and much more today.)
By Eddie Madison
We have heard many times over the years that African Americans for whatever reasons do not adopt children at any age as much as whites. In the discussion of a related topic, we have heard reports, true or exaggerated, that some of these children not adopted are living in foster homes where they are mistreated. Also related are accounts of some foster parents not properly taking care of these children due to inadequate facilities and just plain greed.
Rather than point fingers at what might be rumors, and as we have already noted possible exaggerations, we have set out to explore the subject to the extent possible in a short span of time—like press deadlines for openers.
Just as there is a continuing need for the adoption of pets, the same is believed to be true for children—of all races. We do know that white families adopt children of other races, including children from Africa and Asia, for example. A case in point is the much-publicized celebrities, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Now, with names of people in show business who make the big bucks, some are quick to respond that the more affluent couples can afford to adopt children, in some cases with few limitations.
Since the topic of adoption, much like the subject of the alternative, that is giving birth, is indeed important. We have sought input from what appears to be a reliable source. We know that some couples, for various health or genetic reasons, cannot or perhaps should not become biological parents. Just as biological parents should be economically able to provide for their children, the same applies to adoptive parents.
That’s just common sense – with no racial overtones.
According to Adoption Media, LLC 1995-2009, many prospective parents seek to adopt healthy infants, often of a background similar to their own. In the United States, a relatively small percentage of healthy, Caucasian infants are placed for adoption. Most Caucasian infants available for adoption are placed through adoption agencies and independent or private adoptions (adoption attorneys).
African-American, Hispanic, and mixed race infants are available for adoption both through public and private adoption agencies. The adoption of American Indian children (of all ages) by non-Indians is strictly controlled by the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act (P.L. 95-608). Fees and waiting times for infants vary tremendously, depending on the type of adoption involved and the specific circumstances of the adoption.
Many children in other countries are available for adoption, as reported by the source. The sending countries for most foreign-born children adopted by Americans include Russia, China, Korea, India, Romania, Guatemala, Vietnam, Ukraine, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, and other countries in Eastern Europe, Central and South America.
The adoption website lists 37 topics for prospective adoptive parents to explore. All in the list strike us as being important. Among those that stand out are sibling groups, agency adoption, private or independent adoption, international adoption, foster adoption, special needs adoption (for the obvious expenses to be assumed), adoption costs, why are costs so high?, assistance in handling the costs of adoption, the adoption tax credit, legal issues of adoption, evaluating adoption risks, coping with the wait, and recommended reading.
We must emphasize the website should not substitute personal, professional, legal, or medial advice. The accuracy and personal applicability of the information is not guaranteed. By using it, the source further emphasizes, you agree to the terms of service, including jurisdiction and limitation of liability provisions.
Finally, it is suggested that persons considering adoption do a great deal of reading, plus seek input from agencies, their personal attorneys, other professionals, and older family members about their plans. Certainly, this is a very private matter, however, much is riding on the outcome. If convenient, a discussion with a couple that has experienced adoption would be feasible.
by Eddie Madison
Working in the field of journalism and membership for nearly six decades in the nation’s first black Greek-letter organization, afforded me ongoing opportunities to meet and actually get to know some of the world’s greatest scholars and thinkers.
Dr. John Hope Franklin, who died last Wednesday at age 94 at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., immediately comes to mind. As the president of Mu Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Inc., I had the pleasure of not only inviting him to be the keynote speaker at a chapter-sponsored scholarship banquet in Washington, D.C., I also introduced him.
As I stood at the podium, Dr. Franklin was on my right and on my left was Dr. Charles H. Wesley, a past general president of the fraternity, national historian, former president of Central State College in Ohio, and head of the Association for the Study of Negro Life & History. This had to be around 1969, the year my youngest offspring, David, was born because my late beloved wife was apparently hiding from the camera as she was an expectant mother.
Shortly after starting my first tour of duty as editor of The Oklahoma Eagle, I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Franklin’s father, Buck C. Franklin, the scholarly lawyer who defended victims of the Tulsa Riot of 1921. This was indeed a pleasure for a young black journalist. I could easily have terminated my career at that moment. However, many other similar opportunities followed through the years.
Fast –forward to the first University of Tulsa’s inaugural Buck Colbert Franklin Memorial Civil Rights Lecture Series in 2001 when Dr. Franklin tells his audience that the Tulsa World reported a fictitious account of his father speaking in Negro dialect while pleading a case in a court session.
Buck Franklin began practicing laws the year after statehood. In 1921, as his family was moving to Tulsa from Rentiesville, the Tulsa Race Riot destroyed his offices and the house in which his family was to live. In the immediate aftermath, Franklin worked with riot victims, bringing numerous suits on their behalf, helping prevent the city government from forcing blacks out of Tulsa, and winning a court decision striking down an ordinance designed to prevent blacks from rebuilding their Tulsa homes. He remained active as a Tulsa attorney until 1960.
Reviewing Dr. Franklin’s last book, Mirror to America, readers are immediately made aware of the racial slurs and other absurdities both Franklins had to encounter here in Tulsa, throughout the state of Oklahoma, and elsewhere in this nation.
Martha Waggoner, writing for the Associated Press in a piece appearing in the Obituaries/Legacies page in the March 26 edition of The Chicago Tribune, said: “Some of Mr. Franklin’s greatest triumphs, though, were marred by bigotry. When he was to receive the freedom medal, Mr. Franklin held a party for some friends at Washington’s Cosmos Club, of which he had long been a member. A white woman walked up to him, handed him a slip of paper and demanded that he get her coat. He politely told the woman that any of the uniformed attendants, ‘and they were all in uniform’ “would be happy to assist her.”
The freedom medal mentioned above was the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., among others praising Dr. Franklin on the dust cover of Mirror to America, said: “This is the most important autobiography of the year! (2005). John Hope Franklin is a national treasure. Mirror to America is cause for a national celebration. For me, and countless others, Dr. Franklin is a mentor and role model without peer, a man whose clear-eyed look into our past improved America’s future. Mirror to America will lift the spirit and steel our resolve for the work ahead.”
Herman “Skip” Mason, Jr., current general president of Alpha, included this comment in his message to the body: “Brother Franklin was the historical architect for many of the great legal movements of the NAACP in the l950s including the landmark “Brown vs. Board of Education” case in 1954. He was the author of many books including From Slavery to Freedom first published in 1947, and continuously updated with more than three million copies sold. He also was professor emeritus of history at Duke University.’
Former President Bill Clinton also had praise for Dr. Franklin on the back of the dust cover to Mirror to America, saying: ”With his remarkable sense of humanity, renowned historian John Hope Franklin shares his life journey – an odyssey marked by scholarship, public service, and his passionate commitment to improve the condition of African Americans and their relations with their fellow citizens. Through candid stories of Franklin’s relentless pursuit of equality, Mirror to America calls upon all Americans to look at our nation’s past so that we may destroy the color line that continues to divide our country, and progress together into the future.”
Late in Brother Franklin’s life, he was chairman of President Clinton’s Initiative on Race and received more than 100 honorary degrees and the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal. In fact, he had earlier declined an offer from me to speak at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, because he thought he might be getting too old to travel. Somehow he found the energy to continue making significant contributions into his mid-90s.