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Bryant Gumbel : A Vision Ahead

By Maximillian Muhammad

For the past 15 years on NBC, one man did what no other African-American had done: be seen on a prime network at the crack of dawn and hold his own. While a lot of loaded racist terms were used by the media to minimize his importance Mr. Gumbel, kept right on going like the Energizer bunny. And what made him brilliant at what he did was that he could talk to Oliver North, Spike Lee, even business people all over the world and still relate to the common Joe. But Bryant is anything but common.

Brothers like him and Wynton Marsalis are classic examples of Black men who think for themselves instead of jiving to please the masses. Ed Bradley, Bernard Shaw, Oprah Winfrey deserve props, as well, for following that path, as does Bryant's brother, Greg Gumbel, who does the same job Bryant once did--sports casting and commentary for NBC. It's sad 'cuz before Bryant the image of the Black man on prime time TV was of the Amos and Andy variety. Bryant even alluded to Buckwheat. Yes, Peter Jennings, Ted Kopel, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, etc. are good at what they do, but Mr. Gumbel is just as effective, and being a Brother, he worked twice as hard just to be in the mix. He had to because these networks have only a single African-American man or woman reporter and that's it at best. But thanks to a Brother like Bryant Gumbel, at least that much has happened.

When Maya Angelou, Prince, Muhammad Ali and others paid their tributes to him on the last "Today" show, it wasn't the end of Mr. Gumbel but the beginning of new walls and barriers to break down. Like Al Roker and many others, the trail-blazer known as Bryant Gumbel has touched many. Let's hope many will follow his lead.

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