It was a tiny room without windows, yet it was on the 16th floor, smack-dab in the middle of teeming New York City’s Columbus Circle. A storage space maybe, no, but rather a room fit for a giant. It was the working office at ABC of Gilbert Edward Noble, creator and host of famed weekly broadcast “Like It Is.”
On May 28, a tribute was paid to Gil Noble at CEMOTAP (Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People) headquarters in Queens, New York. Special guests, colleagues, family, and friends joined attendees as the applause continued throughout the day for the late luminary who kept all eyes fixed to the tube every Sunday from noon to 1 PM for 30 years.
Invited speakers provided anecdotal memories, both serious and humorous of the impact Gil left on their lives. For instance, did you know that he was oftentimes left with no staff, yet facilitated the timeline, breaking for commercials, and conducting solid interviews and narratives. Cinque Brath, son of Elombe Brath, Gil’s producer forever, mentioned the small room without windows, his office turned into a shrine housing the rich history and awards generated from the show; Elombe made certain that son and friends gathered every Sunday.
“He didn’t want to be glorified, felt offended when the occasions arose, stated Black Star News publisher Milton Allimadi, “A bus driver once refused my fare, having recognized me on ‘Like It Is’.”
From the “Streets to the Suites” was the rallying cry as attempts by ABC to terminate the show met with organized protests and corporate face-to-face negotiations. On at least one occasion Dr’s. Leonard Jeffries and Calvin Butts, along with Cenie Williams sat with bosses and reached agreements to continue “Like It Is” as it is!
Dr. James McIntosh, CEMOTAP CEO, and host for the day-long program stressed in his introduction, a Gil Noble mantra that history, news, and various media information must be interpreted from our own perspective. “It cannot be the same as your oppressor’s interpretation.”
Managing editor, Pulitzer Prize winner and long time Long Island Newsday columnist, Les Payne, indicated that “Like It Is” must be chronicled and turned into a book for generations to follow.
Herb Boyd described by “Dr. Mac” as author, columnist, biographer, art and music protagonist or someone you just can’t pigeon-hole, stepped onto the podium, book in hand…Mr. Nobles “Black Is The Color of My TV Tube”!
He triggered college protests as described by James Blake, a tenured professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College, prompting students to organize ‘Black Students for Excellence in Education.”
Nearing the end to the program, Gil’s son, Chris Noble, informed the audience that the “Like It Is” Tapes, both video, and audio, are in his possession, along with letters to and from the ABC hierarchy detailing Gil’s long fight to establish his own perspective and standards.
It was a fitting tribute to a media giant.