Thursday, February 28, 2008

Texas weekly editor backs Obama, rebukes racists; time to nominate next winner of award she won

The editor of the weekly Canadian Record in Canadian, Tex., minced no words this week in supporting the presidential candidacy of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and rebuking two racists who had come by her office to disparage him.

"I’ve just been roused from post-publication stupor by back-to-back visits from two of my elders and fellow Democrats," Laurie Ezzell Brown, left, wrote in her "Field Notes" column. "Believing, I suppose, that I am a sympathizer, both men affirm their staunch opposition to presidential candidate Barack Obama — which is fine — in terms that raise haunting images of the Deep South, white sheets and burning crosses — which is not. I feel shame and rage, but I also feel the stirrings of resolve as my now-unwelcome guests depart."

And the rage shows in Brown's next paragraph: "Their vitriol and animosity infuse this office with a stink I had thought, hoped, and prayed — though never quite dared to believe — long gone from my hometown. My stomach roils in remembrance of similar words spoken to me as a child — words that lay like weights on my conscience, as if I myself had said them."

After quoting Obama, Brown concludes, "These are so much more than just words. They are ideas that light the darkness. They are a call to arms. They have power. Just as those old words of hate and fear held us down, these words have the power to lift us up, to awaken our resolve, to engage us, to make us whole. And now it seems possible to hope that they will also bring us back to the voting booth, to reassert our citizenship and to pledge ourselves to an active role our country’s renewal—and our own."

Whew. You can see why the Ezzell family and the Record won last year's Tom and Pat Gish Award from the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues for courage, tenacity and integrity in rural journalism. If you know of someone else who meets those criteria, be aware that the deadline for this year's nominations is Saturday, March 1. Supplemental information can be submitted after the deadline. Send your nomination to For more information about the Gishes and the award, click here.

For the full column and the rest of the Record's editorial page, which includes a handwritten letter from a child pleading for motorists to stop speeding and littering, click here.

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