Creating a future by looking at our history

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 10:06 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Seeing history repeat itself can be scary.

Whether its generational curses coming to haunt us or stories of racial division. But how do we stop that from happening?

I tried to answer that question by looking into WTOC’s own history of supporting deeper conversations in the Black community.

“I tried to be the mirror to other Savannians about what this side of the community was doing and how it was living”

I had the honor of sitting down with not only Harold Jackson, but former Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson, to talk about Focus 73 and 74, a tv program that aired right here on WTOC.

Johnson says he was not only a guest on the show but felt its impact as well.

“That show was the first time that African Americans got a chance to see themselves on a show other than being reported for some negative thing, like a crime.”

The topics ranged from politics...

“If Blacks used both parties to get what they need and some of what they want I think we’d be in a better position.”

To systemic racism...

They even talked about agriculture and food.

“There’s an interesting fish that is in the Ogeechee River called the Ogeechee shad fish very boney fish to eat. Vincent Russo perfected the art of cleaning the fish with no bones. so, I had him on the show to do a whole fish and it was one of the greatest shows we had.”

“For 30 minutes we were able to every week see Harold as the anchor of that show. It was our show and we identified with it.”

While the year was 1974 Johnson says unfortunately not much has changed.

“It would be very relevant because the topics he highlighted on his show are still the topics that we’re dealing with.”

According to the 2022 State of Black Georgia Report some of the most important issues facing Black Georgians are Housing, Education Conditions, Social Justice, and Civic Engagement.

“Back in the 70′s really, starting in the 60s we were struggling for desegregated schools and now we’re talking about whether the curriculum should be desegregated. we were talking about increasing affordable housing. What are we doing now? We’re talking about affordable housing all of these issues would have been the same.”

So how do we put an end to the cycle of issues facing this community? Some say it’s through legislation, others say protesting and working from within the system is the way to go.

“What he did was present controversial topics in a way that made people listen. And that’s where change happens.”

A step we all can take. By simply having conversations around race and social justice with those closest to us. And by taking a piece of advice from focus 74 we keep history alive while not repeating it.

“Thanks very much for tuning in to focus 73 and 74 this is Harold Jackson hoping that this good day brings you good news tomorrow.”