Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa forum debates race, religion and politics

TAMPA — 2008's hot topics of race, religion, politics and media coverage drew a crowd to Hills­borough Community College's Dale Mabry campus Thursday night to listen to a panel discussion and give their opinion about how the media is doing.

Related News/Archive

In general, the sentiment of the evening was that coverage of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was overblown and unnecessary.

"In the end, it was really irrelevant because we're not voting for Jeremiah Wright," said Chris Parra, 29, of Bradenton.

The Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists, NAACP and Council on American-Islamic Relations organized the forum featuring local religious leaders and news people to open a dialogue with the public about the tough issues surrounding the coverage of the upcoming presidential election.

At the center of the two-hour conversation was Sen. Barack Obama's historic run for the White House, and the depiction of the Rev. Wright.

A panelist and longtime friend of the Rev. Wright, the Rev. Art Jones, pastor of Bible Based Fellowship Church of Carrollwood, said what the media failed to do was check the sourcing of the clips to see who's agenda it served to only use certain clips of Wright's Sept. 11 sermons.

"It was unfair and unbalanced, the way they crucified that man," he said.

Islamic relations was also a hot topic of the night.

Panelist Bill Keller, pastor of, had to stop himself midsentence from adding Obama's middle name, Hussein, while he was referring to him.

Ahmed Bedier, president of the Tampa-Hillsborough Human Rights Council and panelist, said he is offended that Obama must publicly declare his Christianity constantly because his name may sound Muslim.

"So what if he was a Muslim?" Bedier said. "He's not running to become imam or rabbi or pastor of America. He's running for president."

But the big question of the night came from Otis Anthony, host of WMNF 88.5's Sunday forum, who asked after the evening was over how communities could start to build upon these conversations and keep the dialogue open.

"We can't blame the media for everything because it is a reflection of us," Bedier said. "We've got to educate ourselves and become informed if we want to stop going down the path we're on."

Moderator and St. Petersburg Times media critic Eric Deggans offered a quick solution.

"You've got to diversify your media diet," he said. "If all you do is watch TV, you'll only have part of the issues covered."

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at (813) 269-5313 or

Tampa forum debates race, religion and politics 05/29/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 29, 2008 11:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa pedestrian struck, killed near Temple Terrace


    A Tampa woman was killed Saturday night after she was hit by a car while walking near Temple Terrace.

  2. Snell to rejoin rotation Wednesday



  3. Illegal sign patrol on a mission to clean up Hillsborough streets

    Human Interest

    BRANDON --Jim Reed, rifling through the back of his Nissan Pathfinder, picks out a sign.

     Citizen volunteers, Reed and Bill Staley take down illegal roadside signs for county code enforcement.  CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  4. Video: Crowd catches teen falling from Six Flags ride


    QUEENSBURY, N.Y. — A teenager fell about 25 feet (about 8 meters) from a stopped gondola ride at an upstate New York amusement park Saturday night, tumbling into a crowd of park guests and employees gathered below to catch her before she hit the ground.

    A teenager fell from a stopped gondola ride at Six Flags in upstate New York. [FACEBOOK VIA LOREN LENT]
  5. Trump accuses Clinton of colluding with Democrats to defeat 'Crazy Bernie Sanders'


    In the wake of a bombshell story about Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election - and persistent allegations that President Donald Trump's campaign may have colluded with Russia to win - Trump took to Twitter Sunday morning to accuse someone else of collusion: his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

    President Donald Trump speaks during the "American Leadership in Emerging Technology" event in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Washington. [AP Photo/Evan Vucci]