Gil Noble (1932-2012)

Gil Noble and William Loren Katz (1992)

by William Loren Katz on April 9, 2012

Gil Noble was a well-informed, charming, confident broadcaster devoted to seeing real news reached his community – all of New York. Operating within a network and system [ABC-TV] that treated news as entertainment and, often as political containment, he stood as an intrepid, challenging force.

From 1969 on when his “Like It Is” interviewed me as an author and teacher who had been integrating African American History into his classrooms for years, I marveled at his commitment and reporting. Knowledgeable, probing and gracious, his sole and daring aim was to offer useful truths about African Americans the educational system and media consistently rejected.

There was nothing superficial about Gil. When the media sought to scapegoat Dr. Leonard Jeffries in order to undermine the school system’s early steps toward multicultural education, I was invited to appear on “Like It Is” with Dr. John Henrik Clarke. What we said about the media’s distortions could not have pleased ABC nor the sponsors, but the public gained access to news it had been denied.

Gil and I also collaborated in a number of ways. We were co-hosts of a three-hour radio memorial honoring a leading scholar of African American slave resistance and interviewed such significant scholars as Angela Davis, Howard Zinn, and Robin D.G. Kelly. We also appeared together at community events in Brooklyn and New Jersey. Each time our aim was to being forth history unknown to most Americans.

More recently, Gil interviewed me about how my Black Indians offered missing pages in history, shone a light on how white divide and rule tactics were used against people of color since the days of Columbus, and how Africans and Indians often were able to achieve unity. The focus was on the past, but we were demonstrating how determined people of different races could defeat divide and rule. Having people of all races on his program Gil also made this point.

I was privileged to be part of Gil’s daring, innovative educational efforts, and I was delighted at our many private discussions. To insure his unparalleled contribution continued, I joined the recent community picket line before ABC-TV saying Gil had be replaced by Imhotep Gary Byrd.

Gil made a unique contribution to his community and his world. From the belly of the beast no less, he broadcast important truths to a wide audience.

I will deeply miss him. So will TV and the public he served.

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