Why Martin Luther King, Jr. Was A "Master Television Producer"
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is often memorialized as a great public intellectual, orator, and civil rights leader. But the important skills that don't often make headlines — his mastery of political and media strategy — are some of the most important.
The 1960s civil rights movement took place just as television news was coming into its own. , says that many believe it was journalists who brought civil rights to the fore by broadcasting the horrors of segregation to a national audience. But this downplays how King meticulously planned his marches and events so that he controlled the broadcast narrative.
"Like Little Rock Central High School: the children are going to walk in through these crowds of angry white people. These children who have been trained, who know what they're doing," Madrigal tells WNYC's Jami Floyd. "And that moral drama, that picture that you see there, is going to be worth as much as a lot of [desegregation] policy considerations."
For the full conversation, click "Listen."
Renaming Robert Moses State Park: Overdue Correction Or Overreaction?
Robert Moses (1888-1981), New York’s “master builder,” has been in residence as a cadaver at Woodlawn Cemetery for nearly 30 years. But it’s barely removed him from the outsized roles he played in the life of the region: political polarizer, moral lightning rod and to some, all-purpose villain.
Yet again, denouncers are condemning Moses’s sharp-elbowed machinations as he spent decades, along with billions in taxpayer funds, turning New York into a global metropolis. And predictably, defenders are extolling his ambitious works and arguing that the disruptions they caused are best understood in historical context. It’s a self-renewing cycle of contention that, if nothing else, keeps the man alive in the minds of New Yorkers.
Moses’s latest star turn comes courtesy of on Long Island.
O’Donnell, who represents the Upper West Side but grew up near the park, has an opinion.
He told Gothamist / WNYC that it’s time to downsize Moses’s posthumous profile as part of a re-evaluation of his work. “I'm not saying wipe him from the history books,” O’Donnell explained. “I'm not saying, ‘You're an evil man because you were racist or because you made decisions with racist underpinnings at a time when most people felt just the same way you did.’" But O’Donnell is saying something close to that.
The Assemblyman predicted that should his bill pass and public testimony be gathered, it would be harsh. “People will say he was a vile, racist man who destroyed people and communities,” O’Donnell predicted, alluding to Moses projects such as Lincoln Center and the Cross-Bronx Expressway, which displaced whole neighborhoods of poor and working class residents. O’Donnell's conclusion: “Maybe there’s a better name for this park.”
But Kenneth T. Jackson, long-tenured history professor at Columbia University and editor of The Encyclopedia of New York, has a contrary view. He’s the editor of a 2007 collection of — mostly positive but none without caveats.
Jackson granted that Moses could be “ruthless” while gathering the land, permissions and budgets to build his public works. But he insisted that, on balance, Moses erected a colossal amount of quality infrastructure that is now critical to the functioning of the region and its economy. “I think if we had more public servants like Robert Moses right now, we’d all be better off because he did things well,” Jackson said. “You’ll notice that he didn’t build the Tappan Zee Bridge, which was constructed in the 1950s and had to be blown up. You don’t blow up Robert Moses’s bridges: The Triborough, The Throgs Neck, The Whitestone.”
Jackson concedes that Moses could be cavalier about the needs of New York’s black and Hispanic communities, several of which he bulldozed. At the same time, he says Moses enhanced other such communities with parks and playgrounds and subsidized public housing. He was, Jackson says, a man of his time. “It's kind of hard to find people in the 1930s and 40s who weren't racist in the United States,” he said. “And I wish he'd been a little less of a racist. But I don't know that there's any evidence that Robert Moses was any more or less of a racist than anyone else.”
The possible renaming of Robert Moses State Park might bring to mind describes it, “an abandoned wasteland.”)
O’Donnell noted that’s not the case with Robert Moses State Park. “Mr. Moses did not own the Fire Island National Seashore,” which includes the park, he said.
Professor Jackson was unmoved. “Maybe you might take Robert Moses's name off something else, but not the very beaches that he built more than anybody else,” he said.
Comptroller Faults Homeless Outreach Provider
A group contracted to provide outreach in the subway system has failed to reduce homelessness. That's according to an audit by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
Tracking the Costs of the L Train Project Proves No Easy Feat
Work to repair the L train tunnel is expected to be completed this April, about one year after it began. Just last week, Governor Cuomo bragged that it would be done on time and way under budget: $76 million below expected costs.
WNYC's Stephen Nessen wanted to find out exactly how the governor came up with his figure.