GW 2008 In Memoriam

Eartha Kitt was best known for her style, grace and sensuality. But only a few know that the entertainer is rumored to have made Lady Bird Johnson cry after criticizing the Johnson administration in 1968 for not putting enough resources into solving America's urban blight and perpetuating an illegal war in Viet Nam (sounds like she could be talking about the current administration...). Following that encounter, Kitt's career was essentially dead in the United States and the FBI harassed her for many years after. But she didn't let adversity keep her back; she got back up, continued her career while supporting social justice around the world for the rest of her life. And for this we salute her.

Miriam Makeba also took risks by standing up for what she believed in throughout her life. She had her South African passport revoked in 1960 when she spoke out in the United States against the apartheid regime. She would be rejected again when she married Black Panther Stokley Carmichael and moved to Guinea. Makeba continued with her activism and singing until her final performance in Italy last November.

<Aimé Césaire was best known for initiating Negritude, a political and literary movement that rejected colonialism and promoted black pride. He also served as an inspiration to Franz Fanon, one of the great thinkers of our time. I first learned about Césaire when I was in college, where I minored in post-colonial studies. He is one of the reasons I am the person I am today.

Mark Felt only did one simple act in his life that brought down a president, revolutionized American journalism and made Americans more skeptical of what their elected officials are doing behind closed doors. Will there be another Mark Felt? Only time will tell.

Speaking of journalism, if declining newspaper readership is any indication, traditional journalism is (almost) officially dead. According to an August survey released by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, only 46 percent of Americans read a newspaper regularly, which is down from 52 percent in 2006. On the other hand, online readership has grown from 9 percent to 13 percent in two years, as reported by Editor & Publisher magazine. Out with newspapers and magazines and in with blogs and YouTube. Only one question that needs to be answered in 2009: how will the traditional media make money off of their online content? Someone needs to get paid, y'all!

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