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JERRI (Ishmael Reed Publishing Company, 2005)

A Black Woman's Life in the Media
  • Published: August 2005
  • Format: Perfect Bound Softcover(B/W)
  • Pages: 165
  • Size: 5.5x8.5
  • ISBN: 9781413478709
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In JERRI, A Black Woman’s Life In the Media, author Jerri Lange has written a personal, candid revelation of the situation of a black woman in the early days of media. As its publisher, Ishmael Reed, of Ishmael Reed Publishing Company, comments: “JERRI, A Black Woman’s Life In the Media reminds us of a time when sheroes like Ms. Lange challenged powerful institutions, no matter the consequences.”

Armed with her father’s admonition to not allow anyone to interfere with her dreams, Jerri Lange set out on a life’s journey that would take her to the pinnacle of San Francisco’s media and political power. A single mother, Ms. Lange accomplished this while raising three distinguished sons, including Michael, a director, producer and Malcolm X delineator, and Ted, a regular on the television series “Love Boat.”

Ms. Lange’s journalistic career began at the San Francisco Chronicle, where she worked along side such luminaries as Art Hoppe, Charles McCabe and Count Marco, and her mentor, Scott Newhall. She continued with tours at stations KEMO, KBHK, KGO and KQED Television. The dream ended when Ms. Lange delivered her famous speech, “Blacks In Broadcasting,” in which she criticized the negative images of blacks in the media. After this speech she found the industry that had formerly welcomed her as the token pioneering African-American newswoman and television host, began to give her the cold shoulder. She was eventually, in her words, ‘black balled.’

But if some members of the segregated San Francisco media thought that they had defeated Jerri Lange, they underestimated the resiliency of Laura and Turner Wilson’s daughter. Ms. Lange began to tour the world, which provided her with the opportunity to draw revealing portraits of a dictator’s wife, Arnold Toynbee, and others. Along the way she was feted by members of the British aristocracy and was an invited guest to a king’s wedding. Ms. Lange also gives the reader revealing portraits of Malcolm X, Shirley MacLaine, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Daisaku Ikeda. She continued her career at KHET, a public television station in Hawaii.

With African American faces disappearing from television news rooms, and the media establishment having abandoned their goal of diversifying the industry by the year two thousand, a challenge made by the late Robert Maynard, Ms. Lange’s effort as a pioneer African-American news woman is especially timely.

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