Apparently, despite all the good news delivered by Minister Louis Farrakhan about Gil Noble’s health following a massive stroke two weeks ago, Noble’s condition has taken a turn for the worse. According to a family member, Noble, the famous broadcaster and host, is back on life support. The family is once again asking for prayers and not visitors.
Meanwhile, as Noble fights for his life, hundreds of well-wishers have called, emailed or stopped by the Amsterdam News to inquire about Noble’s condition and what they can do to help.
We thought it would be helpful to publish just a few of the emails received from people all over the world, many of them notable but most of them a part of Noble’s legion of nameless fans.
“I met Gil in the mid-1960s at the beginning of ‘Like It Is,’” said noted producer and director Woodie King Jr. “One of the early shows was produced by a student of mine, Richard Mason, about drugs and the effects on community youth. Gil hosted that show and many more where he has been a beacon to who, what and why the African-American community of New York is so marginalized.”
Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood Inc. said, “Gil Noble is a treasure of incalculable value to Black America, the American nation and the African Diaspora. A review of his archived shows, which span the decades, reveals a vast collection of gems of a social, historical, political and artistic nature. One day, such a review will be critical to understanding Black life in America in the 20th and early 21st centuries.”
“Gil Noble is the contemporary historian of Afro-America,” renowned poet-activist Amiri Baraka proclaimed. “He’s our electronic griot. What he has built through the years with his distinctive ‘Like It Is’ programs record and archive the history of Black people in North America. What it should tell us is that not only must we collectively pray for Gil’s recovery, but we must begin to watch the priceless archive of those programs like a hawk. This is the spirit he projected whenever we discussed that invaluable work.”
Dr. Brenda M. Greene of Medgar Evers College claimed that Noble is the “embodiment of a strong intellectual thinker. He has stayed committed to the fact that ‘Black is the Color of His TV Tube.’ His tireless, selfless quest to provide us with a legacy steeped in Black culture, to bring our cultural memory to the forefront, to tell our stories, to raise critical issues on social justice, human rights, education and politics is a testament to the indomitable spirit of our ancestors who fought against all odds and who understood the nature of struggle.
“To understand the present, one must know the past, and Gil reminds us of the importance of creating legacies for the present and future generations. He is, in the words of the late John Oliver Killens, a true long-distance runner.”
In the estimation of the Rev. Conrad Tillard of Nazarene Congregation Church of Christ in Brooklyn, Noble is the gold standard of Black television journalism. “He is unique-a mainstream journalist with Black press sensibilities and a Pan-Africanist agenda…For the expanse of his career, he made sure that the full range of the Black voice had a significant forum to be heard from, unfiltered, over major airwaves in this major market. May the Lord shine down upon him and grant him peace. Grace and peace,” Tillard concluded.
Vocalist and activist Karen D. Taylor said she rarely missed an airing of “Like It Is.” “It was the best thing on television,” she began. “During those days, over those many years, I would sit my son down from toddlerhood to when he was around 6 or 7. He and I watched Gil Noble interview heads of state, artists, musicians, actors and educators or present documentaries on them-the best the Black world had to offer and, generally, the most progressive or revolutionary.
“He had a clear agenda, which raised my head even higher. Seeing John Henrik Clarke, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, Hazel Scott, Kwame Ture, Miriam Makeba, Thomas Sankara, Sekou Toure, Abbey Lincoln, Dr. Adelaide Sanford, Bob Marley, Jerry Rawlings and Nancy Wilson made my love affair with the African Diaspora one that has lasted across my life forever.”
Bankole Thompson, senior executive editor of the Michigan Chronicle in Detroit, said, “Gil Noble was a consummate journalist and trailblazer whose work and contributions to the Black experience will never wane in the corridors of time. His work inspired us all.”
“Gil Noble let all of us know that our dreams-Black dreams-would be reality if we just stood up and united, never giving up on the struggle,” wrote Lynnette C. Velasco, author and special assistant to New York City Council Member Inez E. Dickens. “He brought limitless possibilities of change into our living rooms each week. He held Black art and culture to the highest standard. My love of the arts and writing, in particular to create children’s literature to empower our young, was nourished significantly by ‘Like It Is.’”
Black Star News publisher Milton Allimadi has already written a powerfully eloquent essay on Noble and his legacy, but added these words recently:
“Gil is the kind of light and Black shining prince that Ossie Davis referred to when he spoke about Malcolm. Do you know Gil? Has he ever touched you? Has he ever cracked a joke with you even at your lowliest moments? Have you seen how his eyes twinkle when you bring up Africa?
“Have you ever met a gentler giant of a man? Have you ever heard him raise his voice, even when discussing the injustices against African peoples? Have you ever met anyone who seemed to love African peoples more than Gil? Gil exudes Africa from every pore. He breathes Africa. He thinks Africa; I’m sure he’s dreams about Africa. Gil is the quintessential African human being.”
“Gil Noble,” said vocalist and actor Rome Neal, “has and will always be the epitome of Black power. If knowledge is power, then Gil Noble has been the vessel that has carried this knowledge and power throughout the world, enlightening folks as to who we are and how we should be treated as a people.”
For Ron Scott, jazz historian and columnist for the Amsterdam News, Noble is a media warrior, “a revolutionary whose show speaks to the heart of the Black situation as it relates to America. Watching Gil’s show on Sundays is an education in Black history and a Black perspective on New York City as it relates to the Black Diaspora. Gil inspired me as a writer and human being. His perseverance to always strive for excellence and truth separates him from today’s TV hosts.”
I agree with Imam Talib, who said, “Gil Noble is a treasure of incalculable value to [the Black world].” Noble is a jewel who has contributed a library of interviews, commentary and coverage of events and an informed approach to studying many of the challenges that have faced Black people for decades, as Brother Imam said. To review his work would remind the researcher of the energy cycle of athletes. Audiences have watched our journalist brother mellow over time.
“My prayers are with him, his family and all those who wish Big Brother well,” said author and activist Lamont Muhammad.