Bernie Hayes with The Jackson 5

It is truly remarkable how The St. Louis American has been researching, writing, and publishing their work for so many years and have connected with what we would today call local history.

I am proud and blessed to be working with so many people that share the same vision in helping others, and over the years I have attempted to reflect the truth in my columns.

March is Women’s History Month, and in 2007, I featured C. Delores Tucker, who passed out leaflets with lyrics from gangsta rap CDs and urged people to read them aloud, and picketed stores that sold the music, handed out petitions and demanded congressional hearings.

Bernie Hayes

In 2000, I wrote about our city’s “Glorious Past,” a column that reminded us of the many radio and television personalities that not only entertained us but kept us informed. Some of the earlier pioneers whom you very rarely hear about are Wiley Price and Amos Dotson. These two gentlemen were a couple of pioneers who opened the doors for some of those persons I have already named, but you don’t hear of any scholarships or other memorials to them.

That column included some of the television pioneers such as Diane White who was the pacesetter and trailblazer for African-American men and women. Later, Fred Porterfield, Julius Hunter and Robin Smith were hired at the network affiliates. Ron Nichols had one of the hottest TV talk and variety shows in the area.

Bernie Hayes with Dennis Edwards

In 2002, I wrote “Blacks Celebrating Freedom” Juneteenth. I illustrated that blacks do celebrate the Fourth of July in honor of American Independence Day, but history reminds us that blacks were still enslaved when the United States obtained its independence. That is why I believe the Juneteenth celebrations are so important. It honors those African-American ancestors who survived the inhumane institution of bondage, as well as demonstrating pride in the marvelous legacy of resistance and determination they left us.

In 2004, my column hoped to uncover “The Columbus Myth.” The article revealed that our history books tell us that “in 1492, Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue.” Actually, Columbus never saw or set foot on the mainland of the New World until his third voyage 6 years later on August 5, 1498.

2005 was a critical year. I asked “Is Afrocentrism the key to Black Survival?”

Mainstream and urban media, music videos and the hip-hop genre have created an enduring negative image of black men and women. The black-on-black murder rate is escalating and the criminal justice system is overflowing with African Americans and Hispanics.

The African-American press was the focus of a 1999 commentary. It was “The Black Press-Soldiers without Swords.”

Bernie Hayes with Dr. Jockenstein and Gracie

It tells the stories of black journalists who sometimes risked their lives to tell our stories. It is an intrinsic, true story of our community, which the white press either ignored or fabricated. The films show how crusading journalists such as Ida B. Wells of Memphis and Robert S. Abbott, the founder of The Chicago Defender spirited the great northern migration of blacks from the South, to Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and St. Louis.

These are some of more than 460 columns that I wrote in nearly 30 years as a columnist for The St. Louis American newspaper, and I could not be more fulfilled.

Thank you for your loyalty and support.

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