I always dreaded the day when I would have to write the editorials of the New York Amsterdam News. Not because I did not want to write them, but because my writing of them meant that Wilbert A. Tatum was no longer with us. So here I am writing the editorial, many years before I ever thought I would have to.
My grandfather, Eugene Tatum, owned small newspapers in North Carolina. I never knew my grandfather, but my father always told me that his dream in life was to own a paper like the Amsterdam News. So when my father and a group of investors bought this paper in 1971, my grandfather’s dream was becoming a reality. In 1996, when Wilbert A. Tatum gained 100 percent ownership of the paper, Eugene Tatum’s dream came to fruition. Growing up, I always wondered why my father had not run for public office. When I finally asked him, he told me that he believed that he had more power where he was. He could make more of a difference running the paper than he could holding public office.
The Amsterdam News was at Wilbert A. Tatum’s core; he believed so much in the power of the Black Press and the power of the Black community. He stood up for the community when many turned their backs. He stood up for the underdog, for the children, when the mainstream media criminalized and marginalized them. He stood up for the leaders of the community when the “powers that be” tried to disgrace them. He stood up for all those who needed the voice of the Amsterdam News to tell the stories of our community. Our stories, our legacies, our lives.
Wilbert A. Tatum (Dad), will be missed, but his work needs to continue. He was and is the greatest inspiration I could have. He gave me so much. he gave me the strength to persevere and the strength to stand up to what is right and just. I hope you all will continue on this journey with us as we celebrate 100 years of the New York Amsterdam News. His legacy continues, and we need to ensure the future of this paper, this community and this city remain strong.
P.S.: My mother and I thank all of you for your love and support. Thank you for showing your appreciation for the impact he made on so many lives.