John-Telford-207x300by Dr. John Telford

I need to correct a piece of information that I released in an earlier ‘Telford Telescope’ column on the D-REM website: My Michigan Chronicle column will NOT be returning to that nespaper. In an October 3, 2015 email to me from the Chronicle’s newly appointed senior editor Keith Owens, Mr. Owens wrote: “I’ve been dreading giving you the bad news, but my boss shut [your column] down. She saw I had your column slated for next week [October 7] and was adamant that she did not want you in the paper. I don’t know why they’re so pissed at you, but they sure are … It’s out of my hands at this point, because they won’t budge. I’ve won some and lost some while here … , but this one I clearly will not win.”

I am unaware of the reason why the Chronicle executives would blackball me, a man who has very publicly crusaded for African-American rights throughout my entire 60-year career–often at great personal and professional risk. I find it curious that a black-owned-and-operated newspaper would blackball a man who was named WSU’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2001 for CIVIL-RIGHTS activism and ten years later received the Joe Louis Foundation’s Spirit of the Champ Award. I’m also unaware as to whether Mr. Owens asked them WHY they are so eager to blackball me, but I think that both he and I deserve an explanation.

Would they say it’s because I can’t write? (Mr. Owens of all people knows how well I can write – he reviewed three of my books, wrote a supportive blurb for a fourth, and edited a fifth.) Would they say it’s because I’m too CONTROVERSIAL–that I got thrown off the stage in full view of the TV cameras when I was denied a turn at the mike in a Detroit church when I was running for Mayor at the urging of our good, democratically elected school board that Mr. Owens’ predecessor at the Chronicle so cravenly failed to support? Would they say it’s because a gubernatorially-appointed DPS emergency manager fired me from my board-appointed [pro bono!} position of DPS superintendent for opposing his Jim Crowist policies that were trashing the educational opportunities of the vast majority of Detroit’s schoolchildren? And would they say it’s because their corporate-collusive Republican masters–Gov. Snyder and attorney general Schuette–are suing me to regain legal fees they paid with our tax dollars to block me from regaining the superintendency? Would they say it’s because I opened the doors to hundreds of miseducated Detroit kids when I was the superintendent in Madison? Would they say it’s because I made the front pages of the local dailies and the cover of the Metro Times for defying community bigots when I was unilaterally recruiting and hiring black principals and teachers during the years I was the deputy superintendent in Rochester? Would they say it’s because on my weekly WCHB NewsTalk1200 shows I repeatedly called our Republican governor and legislature to task for their ongoing looting and partitioning of DPS–and called the Chronicle to task for supporting them? (It would now appear that despite my present health and money problems, I had better return to the airwaves pronto.) Would they say it’s because in 2012 I turned down a high-paying job with the criminal “Educational Achievement” authority, refusing to sell out and betray our elected DPS board and our schoolchildren (as others have done)?

I’m quite sure that Mr. Owens’ Chronicle bosses WON’T say it’s because they’re ashamed that they left it to fourteen NON-AFRICAN-AMERICAN writers–Curt Guyette, Prof. Tom Pedroni, Karen Twomey, Russ Bellant, Ellen Cogen Lipton, Jack Leseenberry, Tom Stephens, Teresa Kelly, Elena Herrada, Richard Feldman, Dr. Sharon Howell, Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann, Diane Bukowski, and me to fight our Detroit children’s righteous battles while his bosses took corporate blood money to remain silent. Maybe that’s why they are–as Mr. Owens says–“so PISSED” at me. As executives of a historic black-owned-and-operated newspaper, they really should be “pissed” at THEMSELVES for failing to defend the educational rights of Detroit’s schoolchildren. If THEY won’t do it, who will? Certainly not the equally bought-and-paid-for Detroit News or Free Press or Channels 2, 4, or 7. (Or maybe they’ll say it’s because I was instrumental in the firing of a malfeasant DPS chief of staff–a former close associate of current Chronicle official Cathy Nedd’s who gave Ms. Nedd fat promotional contracts using taxpayer dollars.)

During Mr. Owens’ first stint as the Chronicle editor and his later days writing his Metro Times column, he spoke out courageously on behalf of Detroit’s beleaguered schoolchildren. Were I now in his shoes, I would defy his bosses’ orders to the contrary and publish my columns, particularly this one:

Or else–were I he, I would publish (or pertinently quote from) any of the Education columns written by me, Dr. Pedroni, Rev. Wylie-Kellermann, et al., on this website and then face and combat whatever reactionary consequences which might follow, as I have consistently done all throughout my long and tumultuous career.

However, I’m not Mr. Owens, so I must leave it to him and his conscience to make that decision.


Dr. John Telford is a Detroit educator and poet whose most recent book is a biography of the pathbreaking Miller and Pershing coach Will Robinson. The book is available at by typing in ‘Dr. John Telford’ or by direct order from the author at (313) 460-8272. Tapes of Dr. Telford’s shows on WCHB NewsTalk1200 can be heard on his website,