On August 8th of 2002, Rob Redding conducted an interview featuring National Association of Black Journalists President Condace Pressley and Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson. The interview stems from an accusation by Jesse Lee Peterson that the NABJ is a racist, anti-white organization. 

Now, last week you know we were at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And, we had the President of the organization – Condace Pressley on, and she gave us a heads-up about an incident that happened…at the convention; and The Washington Times today, has written an article that reads, “Conservative activist says that he was booed, jeered, and called the “white man’s boy” by a crowd of nearly 300 journalists and media professionals, for speaking against reparations, at the annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists.”

The person in question here is Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, founder of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (B.O.N.D.). He’s the same man that alleges that Jesse Jackson and, he said “His thugs” accosted him at a gathering in California. Ms. Pressley, is that what happened? 

Condace Pressley: The Washington Times story, is not, in my opinion, 100% accurate as to the events of what happened at the reparations debate. Did Reverend Peterson and Reverend Dyson mix it up? Yes, they did. Did the 200-300 journalists in the audience respond to the comments of both presenters? Yes, they did. Was it a complete free-for-all as has been characterized in the paper? No, it was not. 

Because, in the paper it also goes on to say that he said, “They attacked my education, and the way I speak; and told me that I was a pawn for the white man!” – because he didn’t support reparations. 

Condace Pressley: …I must give Reverend Peterson great credit; in taking an opportunity before an audience that really quite honestly, hadn’t heard that much about him, or about his organization; and maximizing the opportunity at the convention last week, to draw more attention to himself and his program. There was a question about Reverend Peterson’s education – specifically during the question-and-answer period, where people from the audience, had an opportunity to step to the microphone and ask a question (of either panelist). Someone did ask Mr. Peterson about his educational background…but I don’t recall someone calling him what you just said… 

A,“pawn of the white man”? 

Condace Pressley: I not saying that it didn’t happen; I was sitting right there on the front row, because I was the timekeeper…I do not recall hearing that in the open forum. I do know, and I did see - a number of journalists gathering around Rev. Peterson at the conclusion of the formal program. And I know, or could see, that they continued to talk for a good 15 to 20 minutes; after the end of the program. I don’t know what was said to Rev. Peterson during that time. 

Hmm…ah, Rev. Peterson is on the line, all the way from California: Mr. Peterson, are you there? 

Jesse Lee Peterson: Yes I am, Rob! 

I wanted to clear this up, because I know Ms. Pressley was on the O’Reilly Factor this morning; and I called you because I wanted to balance out this side of the story! Where did these comments come from? Was that after, or during the meeting? 

Jesse Lee Peterson: Well, uh, Michael Dyson said it during the debate as well. He had debated me before, that I was a tool of the white man. During the question-and-answer period, there was an old man came up to the microphone, and they told me that he was the founder of the National Association of Black Journalists, and his first comment was, “Are you for real? I can’t believe this; “You’re being used; you’re in the hands of the whites.” Then he said, “I see you have this little white boy passing out your newsletters.” 

One of the guys who worked with me was there. And he passed out some of our newsletters while he was there. I wonder(ed) who he was talking about – he’s not a white boy, he’s a black boy…a black man! So I had John to stand up, and I said John is not a white boy, he’s a black man! And ah, so they kinda looked at that situation…what I realized from that conference, was that – not only are these black journalists one-sided in their reporting; they really hate white folks! They hate anybody who they think is protecting white folks! 

Ms. Pressley (!) is that true? 

Condace Pressley: No sir, that is not true. And as you noticed, I did not interrupt Rev. Peterson. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, for what he represents, and his right to have an opinion! What he just said was a broad and unfair characterization of the members of the NABJ! 

Jesse Lee Peterson: Was that old man…was he the founder of the organization? 

Condace Pressley: There were 44 journalists who got together in 1975 to found the NABJ, and the man you’re speaking of is Vernon Jarrett, and he is a columnist with The Chicago Defender, in Chicago, Illinois; and he is among the founders of the NABJ; and he was the organization’s second president! 

Jesse Lee Peterson: Did he not make those statements… 

Condace Pressley: No, you’re correct! I recall exactly what you were saying! Mr. Jarrett was unkind – and I would say, unfair to your presentation! 

So he did say Rev. Peterson was the white man’s pawn? 

Condace Pressley: Yes; Mr. Jarrett did. 

Jesse Lee Peterson: He’s not the only one makin’ those comments! 

Condace Pressley: But that was Mr. Jarrett’s opinion. The difference between columnists and reporters is that a columnist is paid to have an opinion. So, when Mr. Jarrett professed a right to an opinion, and or Rev. Peterson’s presentation, certainly Mr. Jarrett has the right to do it. But to say that everybody who was there… 

Jesse Lee Peterson: It was a racist remark; it was a personal attack; and it was clear to me that he hate white folks; not only him, because the rest of the others were makin’ comments like that; including Michael Dyson! 

Rev. Peterson, I know you have to go, but let me ask you this question: Why do you seem to bring out the worst in situations every single time you go somewhere? With the Jesse Jackson fiasco, now with the NABJ - I don’t know if you go asking for trouble, or what… 

Jesse Lee Peterson: Well, you know what, and I want to say that, I want to appreciate the invitation and I admire the lady for having me there – but most black Americans been lied to for the past 40 years! They’ve been told that it’s the white folks or it’s the white man who’s keeping you down. And for anyone who comes along and says, that’s not true – you’re responsible, it’s you and your so-called leaders keeping you down, they don’t want to hear it. They get very angry because they get angry at white Americans. And so when I stand up, and say we can make it; this is the greatest country in the world – we are suffering not due to racism, but for the lack of moral character (which we are), they get mad about it because they hate the truth! 

Condace Pressley: And the only thing I would caution you against Rev. Peterson, (and I do appreciate your accepting the invitation; knowing you were coming into a group used to hearing from people like Jesse Jackson, and used to hearing from people like Mike Dyson – I appreciate the fact that you came and presented.) just remember: this particular organization has more than 3,000 members. You had approximately 10% of the membership in the room, for that debate. So I would just caution you against making such broad generalizations about everyone there who is a member of my organization, because that’s not true! 

Jesse Lee Peterson: It wasn’t necessarily geared toward your organization; it’s geared towards the problems of the black community! 

Condace Pressley: Well, I just want to make sure we make that distinction! 

Jesse Lee Peterson: No, I have to tell the truth; you know my whole purpose in life is to tell the truth, because it’s the truth that gonna set us free! You know, we’re bein’ controlled by a lie, that’s been coming from the so-called leaders of the black community; and somebody must tell the truth. And that’s all that I do, and I don’t get mad at them for disagreeing; but they don’t want to hear the truth – they get mad at me for telling the truth! 

I’ve got two parting question: Ms. Pressley would you have him back again, and Mr. Peterson would you go back? 

Condace Pressley: Oh, I certainly would be happy to have Rev. Peterson back, and from my conversation with Bill O’Reilly earlier today, he’d be happy to join you! 

Jesse Lee Peterson: I would be more than happy to go back. I love telling the truth, and if one person get it, I’ve done my job. I would be more than happy to go back; I have to tell you, Ms. Pressley was very kind, and as far as I know, she didn’t make any comments. I knew that she disagreed with a lot I was saying, but on a personal note, she wasn’t mean to me; just everyone around her was! 

All right, guys; thank you for joining me in this segment! Thank you both for joining us!