News veteran and CNN Newsroom anchor, Don Lemon made his debut today on the syndicated TOM JOYNER MORNING SHOW. Lemon’s segment will air Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:16a (EST). In it he will offer insights regarding news, politics, entertainment and more that the Joyner audience wants to know about.
In his TOM JOYNER MORNING SHOW inaugural commentary Lemon took on the task of asking – Where will we find the next generation of leaders in the Black community? Lemon stated, “I want to talk to you about leaders. Leadership. Specifically black leaders. I want to talk about who they are really these days, but more importantly I want to talk to you and ask the question about the ones that we have, are they relevant?” (Full commentary below.)
Lemon has reported and anchored on-the-scene for CNN from many breaking news stories, including the George Zimmerman trial (2013), the Boston marathon bombing (2013), the Philadelphia building collapse (2013), the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting (2012), the Colorado Theater Shooting (2012), the death of Whitney Houston, the Inaugural of the 44th President in Washington, D.C., the death of Michael Jackson (2009), Hurricane Gustav in Louisiana (2008) and the Minneapolis bridge collapse (2007).
So listen, you guys know sometimes how things can be right in your face and you don’t know about it, right? I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for the show yesterday. I was talking to your producers and I said, what am I going to do? And I took my dog out for a walk, and you know what street I live on up in Harlem. It’s Fredrick Douglas Boulevard. Then we walked across the Adam Clayton Powell cross there…
So that’s what I want to talk to you guys about on my first day here on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. I want to talk to you about leaders. Leadership. Specifically black leaders. I want to talk about who they are really these days, but more importantly I want to talk to you and ask the question about the ones that we have, are they relevant? Do they help or hurt, not just black people, but society as a whole. Have you ever thought about that? Who are the black leaders? Whoever your black leader might be.
That’s one of the biggest differences, I believe, between our leaders of today and the leaders who came out of the struggle. The ones who came out of the struggle, they wanted us to question everything, even then. Dr. King said you should question everything. And the ones we have today, do they do that? I’ll let you decide for yourself. But could they possibly be keeping us from advancing as individuals and collectively as a people because they have a stake in our thinking remaining the same stagnant?
Might some of them be keeping us from evolving because of their idea of Dr. King’s dream hasn’t evolved past 1963. Now I would venture to guess that if Dr. King were still alive his dream in 2013 would’ve evolved and changed into a bigger and better version of the one that he had 50 years ago. And the strategy to realize that dream would’ve evolved change expanded over the past 50 years as well. And I wholeheartedly believe that just as Dr. King aligned himself with black power brokers and cultural influences of the 1960s, the unions, the churches, the preachers, and as Tom schooled me a couple of weeks ago, the radio hosts, the DJ’s.
TOM JOYNER: Right.
DON LEMON: I think he would do the same thing with the black cultural influences of today. And who do you think that is?
TOM JOYNER: Tell me.
DON LEMON: Any idea? That’s our young artists like Jay-Z. Like Kanye West.
TOM JOYNER: Good point.
DON LEMON: Like Pharrell, like Frank Ocean. Why am I so sure about that? I want you to ask yourself the last time you heard a young person walking around singing a church hymn?
Because just yesterday, just yesterday, I’m walking on St. Nicholas Avenue, two separate young men were singing a French Montana rap song: N- Ain’t worried about nothing. You know that song? N- Ain’t worried about nothing, right? They actually say the word. They’re walking with their headphones on, their screaming on St. Nicholas Avenue.
So that’s why in my work as a journalist, I constantly challenge and urge the rap, Hip-Hop and music powerbrokers to step on to the stage of positive influence and into the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream, because whether they realize it or not they are the new breed, they are the new black leaders. They are the influences of our time. And I don’t mean that I challenge them in a negative way. I mean that in the best possible way, that their names can too be one day be worthy of boulevards, and avenues, and streets.
Yep, you Waka Flocka, Gucci Mane, you TI, Luda can be the next Harry Belafonte of the struggle. Beyoncé, Rihanna, you can be the next Lena Horne or Mahalia Jackson; of course, in your own way.
Jamie Foxx, you guys saw Jamie Foxx at the March on Washington last week. He got it right. You guys are the guys who replaced all heads. You are the relevant ones right now. And you know why? Because unlike some of the black leaders who get so much criticism today, your livelihood as artists don’t depend on keeping people thinking the same way they did half a century ago.
Your art signifies that one of the great minds of our times were Christopher Hitchens said, “One of the beginnings of human emancipation is the ability to laugh at authority.” The Bible even says “test everything, hold on to God.” Thomas Jefferson said, “question with boldness even the existence of a god.” Buddha said, “Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.”
We must question everything including our leaders and especially ourselves. So here’s my challenge for you today on my first day here, even if it’s just for today, to question what you think you know. To take the exact opposite position that you would normally take in a conversation or discussion even if it’s about race, whatever it is. And see where that leads you. Become curious today instead of judgmental. And in the process you might just change your mind.
###About the Tom Joyner Morning Show
The nation’s #1 syndicated urban morning show, which airs in more than 105 markets reaching nearly 8 million listeners, has distinguished itself over the years as continuously giving back to its audience with quality programming, highly popular promotions, special events and philanthropy. Since 1999, Joyner has raised more than $60 million to help keep students in historically black colleges and universities with the Tom Joyner Foundation. The Morning Show with co-hosts Sybil Wilkes, J. Anthony Brown also features senior news analyst and former CNN Correspondent Roland Martin Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as well as “Inside Her Story” with Jacque Reid on Tuesday and Friday. Joyner’s website, BlackAmericaWeb.com, has more than 1.5 million registered users and delivers news with exclusive reports from award winning journalists and unprecedented political coverage as well as interactive elements with on demand audio. Facebook:facebook.com/TomJoynerMorningShow and Twitter:@TJMShow