GSU observes ‘Constitution Day’ celebration

Grambling State University will observe Constitution Day on Tuesday at 11 a.m. in the GSU Assembly Center.

Featured guest will be Joe Madison – “one of the most sought after speakers and media guest in the nation”. Madison is known as “The Black Eagle” needs two wings to fly. And for Madison that translates into successfully balancing the passions of talk radio and political activism. It’s a balancing act that has won him praise in the talk radio industry, and civil rights community.

When many of his peers are “all talk and no action,” Madison has spent his adult life in the trenches, engaged in the very issues he raises with his radio audience. It’s a sacrifice that has meant going to jail for civil disobedience countless times, taking part in hunger strikes in opposition to apartheid in South Africa, and genocide and modern-day slavery in Sudan.

In April 2008, Madison was awarded Talker magazine’s coveted “Freedom of Speech Award.” Previous recipients have included Howard Stern, Al Franken, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’ Reilly and Brian Lamb. The Dayton, Ohio, native has been named Talker Magazine’s 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts nine times, an amazing feat for someone who started his career on Detroit’s legendary WXYZ-AM in 1980.

For Madison, it was activism that prepped him for a career in radio. In 1974, several years after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., Madison was appointed executive director of the 10,000 member Detroit NAACP at 24. Four years later, he was promoted to director of the NAACP Political Action Department in 1978, by former president and CEO of the NAACP, Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks.

Between 1984-1986, Madison led four separate voter registration marches called “The Overground Railroad” in which he and hundreds of volunteers walked from Richmond, Va. to Harlem; San Francisco to Los Angeles; Louisville, Ky. to Detroit, and the final march from Los Angeles to Baltimore. His efforts to register new voters were entered in the Congressional Record by former Maryland Congressman Parren Mitchell.

In 1986, Madison’s talents were called upon once again, when NAACP convention delegates elected him to the national board of directors and re-elected him for the next 14 years. In 1996, Madison accepted the challenge of restoring prominence to the NAACP Image Awards when he was appointed its chairman. At the time of his appointment, the Image Awards was $2.5 million in debt and near termination. But under Madison’s leadership the Image Awards regained its national prominence, and reversed its debt position to $1 million in profit within two years.

Madison has been relentless in his efforts to protect those who suffer at the hands of powerful interests. He led demonstrations and arrests in front of the Sudanese Embassy for 90 days to end the genocide in Darfur. His efforts led first to the House of Representatives and U.S Senate, and later the Bush administration declaring genocide was taking place in Darfur.

The public is invited to attend the celebration. For additional information, contact Dr. Rory L. Bedford, director of Service-Learning at GSU, at 274-2547.

Madison has traveled three times to the war zones in southern Sudan where he participated in the freeing of more than 7,000 slaves and delivering survival kits to refugees. He organized a “Sudan Campaign” to end slavery and raised thousands of dollars to free slaves, at a cost of $35 per slave.

He participated in the victorious movement opposing the deportation of 15,000 Liberians from the United States in 2001.
Being someone who is proud to say he launched his radio career in Detroit, Madison is equally proud to say his activism brought justice and recognition to the legendary Motown group The Four Tops.

After 40 years in the music industry, The Four Tops had not received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. It was another “What are you going to do about it” moment for Madison. So in a yearlong campaign, Madison and his listeners sent letters to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce urging them to honor the group. After thousands of letters and calls,

The Four Tops were awarded a star on the Walk of Fame in June 1996. Duke Fakir, a member of The Four Tops ,said, “We will be forever be grateful to Joe.” The Four Tops publicly honored him at the Wolf Trap Arena in Washington, D.C. with a replica of the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star as officially, “The Fifth Top”.

Madison has appeared on Lou Dobbs, Chris Matthews – Hard Ball, and The Tavis Smiley Show to name a few. Civil Rights Activist Julian Bond speaks of Joe Madison as one who never fails to provoke a response from both the enemies and supporters of justice and fail play.

The public is cordially invited to attend the Constitution Day Celebration. For additional information, please contact Dr. Rory L. Bedford, Director of Service-Learning at Grambling State University.