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RIP Wilbert Tatum -- Amsterdam News Publisher Goes Home

Black Star News, News, Posted: Feb 27, 2009

Wilbert A. Tatum, Publisher emeritus of The New York Amsterdam News died this morning, a spokesperson at the newspaper said.

Tatum was Chairman of the board and editor-in-chief, when he assumed majority control in August 1982. The newspaper is celebrating its 100 years anniversary.

"He was a fighter and a bold spirit and it was from him and his gift of the Amsterdam News to us that we got rid of Mayor Koch and he certainly spoke truth to power," Council member Charles Barron said. "He is at a better place where he is now. He is out of his wheelchair and he feels no more pain. He can write again."

Barron added, "I know He will have a lot to say to Malcolm X and to Harriet Tubman. Write on with your celestial pen in heaven brother."

"I first met him when I was a teenager involved in civil rights work in New York and have known him over 30 years," the Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, said, in a statement. "His courage, his tenacity, his sagacity, and his advocacy, is unparalleled in African-American journalism. We have lost a great advocate, a penetrating writer, an unmatchable institution builder, and for me, a great friend and father figure. I will be working closely with Elly and his widow Susan towards funeral arrangements next week and the returning of his remains in his beloved New York City."

The reference to Elly is to the Amsterdams publisher, Elinor Tatum.

Black Star News publisher Milton Allimadi said, "Today we mourn the passing of Tatum, who grew up at a time when Black media often made the difference between whether Black people got to live or not. He was inspired by the early generation of Black pioneering reporters who fought lynching, racial discrimination and segregation. His daughter, who is a friend, will take his newspaper to the next level."

In July 1996, Tatum bought out the last remaining investor, and in December 1997, he stepped down as publisher and editor-in-chief and was succeeded by his daughter, Elinor Ruth Tatum, who was 26 at the time. Tatum was Board chair at the time of his death.

The family has not yet announced funeral arrangements.

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