BLAC’s 20th Anniversary Throwback: Kicking it Back to 2005

Celebrating BLAC's 20th anniversary and remembering what we and the culture were up to in 2005, plus remembering our sit-down with Detroit's up-and-coming anchorwomen.

Maybe credit Hurricane Katrina, but BLAC Detroit, then called African American Family, got a little bit edgier in its coverage in 2005. Sure, there were stories on scuba diving and roller-skating, but there were also some hard-hitting pieces, like one questioning whether right-wing ministers were selling out the community and, in another, reflections from an ex-Black Panther. Here are other highlights from a year that feels like yesterday. 

Still a Thing

The Detroit Science Center is now the Michigan Science Center and our calendar, Stepping Out, is now called Access, but these things featured in BLAC back in 2005 are still relevant today: 

Fight for reparations

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Educational reform

Dining at Beans & Cornbread

Jumping the broom

Idlewild (sort of)

Shut Up, Bill!

Bill Cosby’s controversial comments calling into question the parenting skills of low-income African-American families sparked outrage, but it also inspired a four-part televised discussion called Reclaiming the Village: An African American Family Dialogue. Presented by BLAC and MetaDynamics Inc., the series was moderated by former Channel 50 news anchor Amyre Makupson. Each of the four panel discussions, on topics such as family issues, education and pop culture, were followed by a community dialogue at venues around the city.

Anchorwomen Extraordinaire

Our October cover featured a trio of “up-and-coming” anchorwomen – Carolyn Clifford, Rhonda Walker and Fanchon Stinger – who dished on their rise through the ranks and their dreams for tomorrow. Of the three, Fanchon is the only one no longer on the air in Detroit, having been let go in 2008 due to her boyfriend’s link to Monica Conyer’s Synagro sludge-hauling bribe scandal. Today, she’s an evening news co-anchor at Fox 59 in Indianapolis. Here are some highlights from their interviews. 

Carolyn Clifford

On diversity hiring at a previous new job: 

“My girlfriend was the only Black reporter, and even though I was an intern I remember feeling like I would never get a paid slot until she left. I won’t say there was a quota system, but when she left, I got that job.”

On paying your dues:

“I really don’t think of this as celebrity. I really like being a reporter and writing and working hard, and I know a lot of people get opportunities when they’re really not ready. But I don’t believe in it.”

Rhonda Walker

On being a morning person:

“When I was a kid I liked to get up early. I just really liked the peace and quiet of mornings. I had a brother and sister, so I’d get up at 5, turn on the TV, make my cereal, go over my homework, whatever I wanted to do.”

On realizing her dream:

“Carman Harlan used to babysit my brother and my cousins. … I would see her and I would dream about wanting to have her job. It was just an amazing feeling to be here at the station.”

Fanchon Stinger

On preparing for the limelight:

“I learned in high school that I needed to train myself to overcome my shyness. So I would purposefully put myself in situations that forced me to talk, because I knew I couldn’t be successful in this field with that fear.”

On sharing credit for her success:

“When someone says ‘Oh, Fanchon, you did this or you got this award,’ well, I’m just a sum total of the people that God entrusted to my life. Everyone from my teachers to my parents.”

In ’05

Tyler Perry’s Madea movie franchise begins

“We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey was the No. 1 song

YouTube was founded

In Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf becomes the first woman elected president of an African country

Actress Holly Robinson weds NFL player Rodney Peete

And Still We Rise

In 2005, the newly-opened permanent exhibit And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture prompted folks to make a beeline to the Charles H. Wright Museum. The soul-stirring journey showed the powerful events that shaped our people – from the terror-filled slave ships and the Great Migration to Martin Luther King Jr.’s Freedom Walk and the election of Coleman A. Young. The 22,000-square-foot exhibit, which contains more than 20 galleries, was a must-see then and continues to be today.

History Highlight

Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, killing nearly 2,000 people and displacing hundreds of thousands. The U.S. government was slow to fully realize the impact and need of the mostly black city, prompting Kanye West’s famous accusation during a fundraising telethon. “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People” became a protest song by Houston-based hip-hop artists The Legendary K.O.

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