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                                                      PRINTER'S NO. 2153



No. 359 Session of 2007


           JUNE 28, 2007

                                  A RESOLUTION

     1  Recognizing the many varied and significant contributions of
     2     WDAS-AM.

     3     WHEREAS, In 1951, Doctor Max M. Leon and Bob Klein undertook
     4  a revolutionary endeavor, instituting one of the nation's first
     5  African-American radio stations, WDAS-AM of Philadelphia,
     6  Pennsylvania; and
     7     WHEREAS, This industry-leading broadcast facility had a
     8  galvanizing social impact in this Commonwealth and, in fact,
     9  across this nation; and
    10     WHEREAS, WDAS-AM was not just a radio station, it was a
    11  cultural institution bringing its listeners aspects of every
    12  known societal necessity from award-winning news coverage to the
    13  finest musical programming and governmental and religious
    14  affairs; and
    15     WHEREAS, Thanks to the work of pioneering station WDAS-AM,
    16  there were many other such stations finally on the air, but none
    17  were ever more effective in standing for justice and encouraging

     1  enlightenment here and across the nation; and
     2     WHEREAS, The realities of Jim Crow America were still very
     3  much alive in 1951, including racially motivated murders of
     4  social progressives, segregated schools, housing, public
     5  transportation and drinking fountains; and
     6     WHEREAS, This was the climate into which Dr. Leon and Mr.
     7  Klein, in their everyday actions, finessed, asked, implored and
     8  when necessary demanded that Philadelphia and white Americans
     9  respect the African-American community; and
    10     WHEREAS, WDAS-AM was the only station to stand up for the
    11  rights of minority broadcasters, successfully suing Arbitron
    12  Industries, proving they were racist in their listenership
    13  accounting methods of America's minorities, and it paved the way
    14  for equality in the marketplace for all minority broadcasters
    15  and with the ensuing enhanced revenues proved to all of
    16  corporate America the vitality and economic strength of the
    17  African-American community; and
    18     WHEREAS, By the mid 1950s, WDAS-AM had established one of the
    19  first and only full-service broadcast news departments providing
    20  major coverage of every groundbreaking civil rights breakthrough
    21  with firsthand reporting from Brown v. Board of Education of
    22  Topeka, Rosa Parks' refusal to take a back seat, the Montgomery
    23  bus boycott, the Little Rock, Arkansas, riots, the Birmingham
    24  church bombings, the integration of Alabama University, Dr.
    25  King's marches on Washington, DC and his winning the Nobel Peace
    26  Prize and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the
    27  Voting Rights Act of 1965; and
    28     WHEREAS, WDAS-AM was responsible for bringing Dr. King to
    29  Philadelphia, sponsored a parade down Market Street in
    30  Philadelphia introducing Dr. King to the city, commissioned
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     1  buses taking Freedom Riders to the South and supplied buses to
     2  take people to all of Dr. King's marches; and
     3     WHEREAS, The unprecedented and innovative programming efforts
     4  of WDAS-AM are credited with keeping Philadelphia calm in the
     5  wake of Dr. King's assassination, as a result of which
     6  Philadelphians mourned their loss in the nonviolent manner Dr.
     7  King always advocated; and
     8     WHEREAS, In a letter written one year after Dr. King's
     9  assassination, King confidant and Ambassador Andrew Young said
    10  this about WDAS-AM:
    11     For the past number of years WDAS and its manager Robert
    12     Klein have been of great service to Dr. King and the Southern
    13     Christian Leadership Conference. They have supported us
    14     editorially, financially, spiritually and with a great amount
    15     of their air time...To our knowledge there is no station in
    16     America that has worked harder, longer and with more dedication
    17     for Black people than WDAS in Philadelphia;
    18  and
    19     WHEREAS, WDAS-AM celebrated a resounding victory against
    20  racism when it supported and partnered with Cecil Moore, Esq.,
    21  in his victorious effort to integrate Girard College; and
    22     WHEREAS, For many years WDAS-AM was instrumental in leading,
    23  supporting and encouraging the various consciousness-raising and
    24  financial boycotts to curtail United States business involvement
    25  in South Africa until that racist government ended its
    26  systematic human rights violations; and
    27     WHEREAS, Years earlier, WDAS-AM was the spearhead when the
    28  Rev. Dr. Leon Sullivan launched his boycott against the
    29  Greyhound Bus Company in Philadelphia, successfully racially
    30  integrating the staff of drivers and personnel; and
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     1     WHEREAS, From Bright Hope Baptist to the Church of the
     2  Advocate and many smaller stops in between, the "overground"
     3  railroad forged by WDAS-AM performed major works of social
     4  progress in partnership with the leaders of every major church
     5  in Philadelphia and neighboring states; and
     6     WHEREAS, WDAS-AM held numerous "radiothons" raising money to
     7  benefit churches and people in need; and
     8     WHEREAS, One of the most famous of these marathon broadcasts
     9  was a gun surrender program, in which gang members and others
    10  brought in their weapons and pledged themselves to the
    11  principles of nonviolence; and
    12     WHEREAS, WDAS-AM was responsible for the legendary Freedom
    13  Shows where the finest rhythm and blues talents in the world
    14  were brought into Philadelphia for the benefit of worthy civil
    15  rights and social organizations; and
    16     WHEREAS, WDAS-AM was the home of one of the first African-
    17  American talk shows in the history of this country, the first in
    18  Philadelphia and probably the first on the East Coast: "The
    19  Listening Post," with Joe Rainey; and
    20     WHEREAS, WDAS-AM charities raised and distributed hundreds of
    21  thousands of pre-1980 dollars to thousands of people in the
    22  tristate area, year after year; and
    23     WHEREAS, WDAS-AM contributed to the enormous popularity of
    24  rhythm and blues music and helped elevate rhythm and blues
    25  artists at a time when African-American artists could not get
    26  their records played on white radio stations; at a time when
    27  African-American radio talent could not get hired at white
    28  stations; at a time when African-American artists were being
    29  paid as little as one-tenth of what white artists were making
    30  and at a time when African-American artists could not walk
    20070H0359R2153                  - 4 -     

     1  through the lobbies of the clubs in which they were appearing;
     2  and
     3     WHEREAS, WDAS-AM was the first station in the country to play
     4  records by Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, the Beatles, Marvin Gaye,
     5  Buddy Holly, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder and Will Smith; and
     6     WHEREAS, WDAS-AM air personalities were instrumental in
     7  helping talent get to the right record company, most notably
     8  Louise Williams Bishop getting Aretha Franklin signed with
     9  Atlantic Records and Joe "Butterball" Tamburro helping Sister
    10  Sledge, along with numerous instances involving WDAS-AM
    11  legendary program director Jimmy Bishop; therefore be it
    12     RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives recognize WDAS-AM
    13  for its extraordinary cultural, spiritual and historic acts of
    14  bravery, standing for the causes of freedom and justice in
    15  helping secure the rights and pursuit of excellence for African
    16  Americans, which eventually led to the securing of rights for
    17  other minorities in our country, notably women, Native Americans
    18  and Hispanics, among others.

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