July 31, 1999

National Coordinating Committee of the Black Radical Congress Calls for Mary Frances Berry's Resignation

The Black Radical Congress has followed, with dismay and outrage, the undermining of radio station KPFA over the past several months by the very people -- its governors -- charged with guarding the station's noble mission. This week, the BRC National Coordinating Committee sadly but adamantly came to the conclusion that the current crisis can only move toward resolution by the resignation of the Pacifica Foundation's Board President Mary Frances Berry.

Since its founding by pacifist Lewis Hill 50 years ago, KPFA has been precisely the invaluable, authentic voice of the people needed in a nation that calls itself a democracy. The station's programming structurally recognizes communities of every descent within our diverse republic -- African, Asian, Pacific Islander, Latino, Native American, European, Arab and more. Moreover, KPFA has stood as an oasis of progressive ideals, commentary and analysis in a socio-political environment increasingly poisoned by the unbridled expansionism of personal wealth, corporate power and military adventurism. If ever KPFA and its sister stations were needed, it is today.

The timing and character of the siege of KPFA indicates that the station's governors have chosen to join, rather than resist, a many-pronged assault on public access to the air waves. That assault is only one part of the ultra-right wing effort to defund, dismantle and destroy all of our country's public institutions and services -- public schools, public universities, public housing, public libraries, public assistance to the needy, public hospitals, public support for the arts and culture. Thus, the struggle to save KPFA - a broader and deeper struggle than the fate of one radio station - is now in our hands. KPFA must not be put up for sale and we ask that African Americans and all progressive people across this land join us in opposing this first step in dismantling the Pacifica Network nationwide.

We, the people, must save KPFA and Pacifica. Where else can we hear the words of our beloved Mumia Abu Jamal? Where else can the radical and left voices in the African American community be heard? What other media boldly embraces a partisan stance toward the anti-racist struggle and many other people's' struggles? Mary Frances Berry has failed to understand this fundamental truth and has betrayed Pacifica's mission and legacy of unfettered anti-racist speech. We must save KPFA just as we must save all of our public services and institutions from the chopping blocks of greedy privateers and would-be tyrants.

We activists, workers, labor organizers, intellectuals, academics and artists (young and old alike) of the Black Radical Congress rally among you here today. We join in demanding full reinstatement of the KPFA staff, including Nicole Sawaya and Larry Bensky, without "gag" rules or other restrictions on their fulfillment of the station's mission. We join in demanding the resignation of Mary Frances Berry, Lynn Chadwick and those members of the Pacifica Board who have precipitated this crisis. Our unity with these demands is consistent with our commitment to principled activism against racism, sexism, homophobia and all other forms of discrimination and oppression. Our solidarity with these demands also reflects our commitment to working with progressive people in the United States and abroad to defend human rights and build real democracy -- with social, political, cultural and economic justice for all.

National Coordinating Committee, Black Radical Congress

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