Joe Madison, also known as, “The Black Eagle.” by his Radio-One WOL-AM listeners in Washington, D.C. and one of America’s top talk radio personalities. is now national on XM Satellite Radio Channel 169,.
|Joe Madison interviews President Barack Obama
|Joe Madison at the One Nation rally
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Madison has been named one of Talker Magazine’s 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts nine times. That recognition only skims the surface of his extraordinary commitment to social justice locally and internationally. As comedian and human rights activist Dick Gregory once said, “you can’t pigeon hole the Black Eagle. Madison is more than a radio talk show host. He is a radio activist.”
After graduating in 1971, from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology/Urban Planning, Madison spent a brief period working in corporate public relations. However, because of his years of student activism, and the memory of the hard-fought gains of the 1960′s civil rights movement still fresh in his consciousness, Madison was summoned to what he called “the unfinished agenda of the civil rights movement.”
It was then, 1974, that the NAACP board of directors named him at the age of 24, Executive Director of the 10,000 member Detroit NAACP, becoming the youngest person appointed to that position. Madison’s leadership skills, commitment, and ability to inspire those around him while leading the Detroit Chapter led to his promotion as director of the NAACP Political Action Department in 1978, by former president and CEO to the NAACP, Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks. Between 1984-1986, Madison led four separate voter registration marches called “The Overground Railroad” in which he and hundreds of volunteers walked from Richmond, Virginia to Harlem, NY; San Francisco to Los Angeles; Louisville, KY to Detroit, and the final march from Los Angeles to Baltimore, Maryland. His efforts to register new voters were entered in the Congressional Record by former Maryland Congressman Parren Mitchell.
In 1986, Madison’s talents were called upon once again, when NAACP convention delegates elected him to the national board of directors and re-elected him for the next 14 years. In 1996, Madison accepted the challenge of restoring prominence to the NAACP Image Awards when he was appointed its chairman. At the time of his appointment, the Image Awards was $2,5 million in debt and near termination. But under Madison’s leadership the Image Awards regained its national prominence, and reversed its debt position to $1 million in profits within two years.
Directing a major civil rights organization, registering voters, marching in the streets, and giving lectures would be enough to demonstrate one’s commitment to social justice, and rightly so. Yet in the midst of the civil rights activism, Madison started another career as a socially conscious radio talk show personality in 1980 on Detroit’s WXYZ-AM. Madison not only uses his microphone to bring attention to social injustices here and abroad, he also challenges himself and his listeners to do something about it. For him this has meant going to jail for civil disobedience countless times, and going on hunger strikes in opposition to apartheid in South Africa, genocide and modern-day slavery in Sudan.
Madison has been relentless in his efforts to protect those who suffer at the hands of powerful interests. He led demonstrations and arrests in front of the Sudanese Embassy for 90 straight days to end the genocide in Darfur. His efforts led first to the House and Senate, and later the Bush administration declaring genocide was taking place in Darfur. Madison followed this up with a campaign to divest $93 billion in Sudan, through state pension funds. To date, Illinois, New Jersey, and California have divested from Sudan. Madison has traveled three times to the war zones in souther Sudan where he participated in the freeing of more than 7,000 slaves and delivering survival kits to refugees. He organized a “Sudan Campaign” to end slavery and raised thousands of dollars to free slaves, at a cost of $35. per slave. He participated in the victorious movement opposing the deportation of 15,00 Liberians from the United Sates in 2001.
Dr. C. DeLores Tucker, chair of the National Political Congress of Black Women asked Joe, to lead demonstrations against recording executives who tried to exploit young rappers and force-feed the Black community with the negative lyrics of “Gangsta rap.”
Even the legendary Motown group. The Four Tops have been the beneficiary of Joe Madison’s activism. After 40 years in the music industry and pillars in the sound we call Motown, The Four Tops had not yet received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. In a year-long campaign, Madison and his listeners sent letters to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce urging them to honor the group. After thousands of letters and calls, The Four Tops were awarded a star on the Walk of Fame in June 1996. Duke Fakir, a member of The Four Tops, said, “It was solely through Joe’s efforts that this nomination came to be.” The Four tops honored Madison by bestowing upon him the title “The Fifth Top” at a concert in Washington. D.C. Madison went on to advocate for the inclusion of more Blacks in the film and television industry.
He and his wife Sharon have been married for more than 30 years and live in Washington, D.C.
Awards and Recognition:
- Honored as an abolitionist against slavery in Sudan by the American Anti-Slavery and Christian
- Small Business Administration Advocate of the Year Award Solidarity International of Zurich, Switzerland
- SCLC Journalism Award 2000
- National SCLC Presidential Award
- Ebony Magazine’s 50 Leaders of the Future
- The Washington Association of Black Journalist Community Service Award 1997
- Who’s Who in Black America
- NAACP Image Award Recipient (1996)
- Chairman of the NAACP Image Awards 1995 and 1996
- The Good Brother Award from the National Political Congress of Black Women
- University of D. C. Presidential Award
- News Maker of the year presented by the National Newspaper Publishers Association
- The African Leadership Award presented by the Liberian Community Association
- Thurgood Marshall Historical Black Public College and University community Leadership Award