The publisher of the The Metro Courier newspaper has grown tired of what she says is unfair coverage of Augusta’s black community, and on Sunday, she and others spoke out.
About two dozen people took to the steps of the newspaper’s Walton Way office to criticize local media for the “crucifixion” of mayoral candidate Helen Blocker-Adams and for how they feel the black community has been unjustly portrayed.
Blocker-Adams suspended her campaign Thursday after reports surfaced of years of financial difficulties and debts, including three court judgments exceeding $70,000 from Aiken County that dated to the 1990s. She has not formally withdrawn from the race.
“Was Helen Blocker-Adams wrong? Oh yes, she was very wrong and should be held accountable,” said Barbara Gordon, The Metro Courier’s editor and publisher. However, “as far as news coverage of this situation goes, this was overkill in a major way,” she said.
Longtime Augusta resident Rod Pearson equated the coverage of Blocker-Adams’ financial problems to the death of Jesus Christ.
“You crucified her just like Christ was crucified,” he said.
After the news conference, Pearson said he still plans to vote for Blocker-Adams and hopes others in the city will join him.
“We don’t need to turn our backs on a young lady who continues to offer a smile, who continues to support this community, who continues to support these children out there,” he said. “I haven’t seen anyone give that type of support like Helen Blocker-Adams.”
The Rev. Willie Jackson said what happened to Blocker-Adams could happen to anyone.
“It was the most dehumanizing situation I have seen in Augusta,” he said. “What difference does it make because she didn’t pay her bills? I guarantee that several people in our town have unpaid bills.”
Gordon said she has witnessed inequity in media since she arrived in Augusta in 1981. In her speech, she asked media members why they didn’t provide equal coverage when fired City Administrator Fred Russell “doled out thousands of dollars in unapproved raises.”
She also asked why the media hadn’t covered the procurement of the property to build a parking deck on Reynolds Street with the same watchful eye as they have with issues affecting the black community.
“This is a far bigger issue,” she said. “This is about how local media covers black leaders and the black community as a whole.”