I've grown up with 60 Minutes and continue to enjoy and anticipate each new episode. In this world overrun by reality programming -- more appropriately described as general foolishness -- intelligent journalism addressing provocative issues is very much appreciated but apparently a dying art form. Unfortunately, I have a serious problem with the show that I respect so much.
Since the untimely death of Ed Bradley in November of 2006, CBS has been either unwilling or unable to secure another regular correspondent of African American descent. Every week as I faithfully tune in, I listen to the upcoming features and view the familiar roster of correspondents. Over and over they introduce themselves with the refrain "I'm ..." For two and a half years I have patiently waited for another African American person to be elevated to the pantheon of intelligent television journalism. Week after week and month after painful month, I anxiously watch in hopes of seeing a shining new face.
How can CBS not appreciate the importance of diversity? To watch a roster of entirely white men and women is more than a bit difficult for me to reconcile in 2009. More accurately, it stings. I find myself asking, 'why this obvious lack of representation?' ... instead of fully enjoying the subject matter at hand.
Ed Bradley was an icon in the Black community. His intelligence, eloquence, deportment and cool were a beacon of hope for many people. When Black men were far more likely to be depicted on television as pimps, drug dealers, thugs and ne'er-do-wells in general, Ed Bradley was more than a role model for young men like me. He was a hero.
Ed Bradley asked questions and engaged subject matter that was meaningful to the minority community. But more importantly he did it in the majority world. He was not the correspondent that merely covered Black issues. Ed Bradley probed powerful and relevant people, mostly white, in a manner that was virtually never displayed then and rarely seen now. The recurring images of an intelligent and articulate black man engaged in meaningful discussion with figures of national and often international importance were more than inspirational. They were educational.
His well televised presence inspired Black America to believe in the potential reality of equality, while simultaneously educating White America to the promise of opportunity. Ed Bradley was allowed access to the living rooms of America that until then had been mostly off limits. He did not protest nor picket. He quietly excelled and gained entrance with ability and dignity.
Why is the message any less relevant today? Why hasn't CBS secured one of the many qualified Black and Hispanic journalists to represent a more culturally diverse America? Or better yet, why have they chosen not to?
Children need the inspiration and America needs the continuing education.