Black church group urges African Americans to withhold contributions to NPR

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The National Black Church Initiative, a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches, called on all African Americans May 27 to withhold donations to National Public Radio after it cancelled “Tell Me More,” its only program featuring an African-American host, and regularly addressing issues and concerns of the Black community.

NPR announced a week ago that it was canceling “Tell Me More” as part of series of cuts to address the network’s long standing budget deficit. The announcement included the elimination of 28 positions throughout NPR.

NBCI president, Rev. Anthony Evans, conveyed the group’s position in a letter to NPR CEO, Jarl Mohn. “The weekday NPR program was a strong voice on issues of race, identity and faith, and host Michel Martin was a crucial voice for the Black Church community… The show represents a shining light for African American broadcasters, and serves a much-needed role of minority voices in the media. NPR has abandoned the African American community, and we must turn a deaf ear to you.”

The letter from Rev. Evans went on to say “as a result of this cancellation, NBCI has urged its 15.7 million members to not consider donations to NPR, and to stop donations that are currently underway. The Black Church cannot be expected to donate to a station who has failed minority voices in America.

NPR announced earlier that “Tell Me More” host Michel Martin, and executive producer Carline Watson, are remaining at the network and that their reports will “appear on the network’s primary newsmagazines, online and in public events.”

There was no immediate reaction from NPR to the announcement from NBCI. Jarl Mohn, a former MTV and E! network executive, was just recently named NPR’s new CEO and is scheduled to take office this summer.

The demise of “Tell Me More” is the third for programs created to appeal primarily to NPR’s African American listeners. Commentator Tavis Smiley took his show to a rival public broadcaster after clashes with NPR over how much money the network spent to market his program. His show’s successor, “News and Notes” went off the air in 2009.

According to its Website, The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) is a coalition of 34,000 African American and Latino churches, 15 denominations and 15.7 million African American churchgoers working to eradicate racial disparities in healthcare, technology, education, housing, and the environment. NBCI’s mission is to provide critical wellness information to all of its members, congregants, churches and the public.

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