Earlier this month the Caucus of African-American Leaders and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, Inc. announced that they would spearhead a capital fundraising drive to raise $70,000 for a permanent memorial to the slain journalists who were murdered last month.
These martyrs: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiassen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters must never be forgotten. Here is why. The late CBS journalist Walter Cronkite once said, “Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.”
These journalists lives were lost for a noble cause, freedom of the press. The proposed Freedom of the Press Memorial will be located within the City of Annapolis. Mayor Gavin Buckley has already assigned members of his staff to identify an appropriate location for the memorial. The site chosen will be accessible to the public.
I have heard from so many people including former Mayor Ellen O. Moyer all often to assist with this project. Former Annapolis police Chief Joseph S. Johnson discussed the need for City Hall to review its security as well.
The night that the proposed memorial was announced, Leutrell Osborne, a retired CIA agent donated $100. Osborne knew that the men and women who were slain didn't represent fake news but men and women who were committed to factual news. He believed that they like his former colleagues they were committed to the principle of a democracy.
It is the same reason that Jeff Blum, whose father the late Morris H. Blum founder of WANN radio made a contribution. As a former WANN radio journalist, Jeff Blum understood what this memorial represents.
The right to speak, publish and criticize the government is a right that most Americans cherished. It is one of the founding principles of this nation.
America has been and must always be a beacon of democracy and where people are able to express their views without the fear of being murdered for those views.
Anyone in the public eye can attest to the fact that the climate today is less civil and more corrosive than ever before. People do not just disagree they seek to silence their opponents. This is why the Freedom of the Press Memorial is so important. It is a memorial that says to every citizen and visitor that these journalists died for a noble cause.
In too many cases, tragedies are soon forgotten. This memorial will be the first of its kind in the nation to honor journalists who lost their lives because of a newspaper that published a story that the alleged assailant didn't like. If our society ever allowed this to become the norm, we will have lost more than the lives of these men and women, we would have lost our way.
All of the memorials have been built in our county by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee, Inc., have been built with private funding. We raise the money and built the memorial to King at Anne Arundel Community College and donated it to the college. We did the same thing with the Civil Rights Memorial, which is located across from the Arundel Center, which was donated to the City of Annapolis.
We will do the same thing with the Freedom of the Press Memorial donate it to the City of Annapolis. If you wish to make a tax-deductible contribution, you may do so by sending a check or money order to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee, Inc., P.O. Box 371, Annapolis, MD 21404 or going straight to the gofundme site, gofundme.com/freedom-of-the-press-memorial.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “Our liberty depends on freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”
I simply say, "A Luta Continua", which means in Portuguese that the struggle continues and that without freedom of the press, there is no freedom.