The Americus Sumter Observer Reaches 21 Years of Reporting
John D Marshall, MD., Publisher
First publication in 1997 in Americus, Georgia
Home of the Americus Sumter Observer Newspaper on Forrest St
It is unimaginable that our community’s newspaper, the Americus Sumter Observer (ASO) has turned 21, and since its 1997 inception, has survived so many challenges and attacks during those 21 years. Even more surprising is our dedicated small staff that writes articles, performs interviews, and distributes the Observer to nearby counties and selected out-of-state locations. Our committed staff prides itself that the Observer has played a major role in exposing and combating injustices, regardless of the individuals or issues. And after 21 years, the paper remains at the forefront of truthfulness and balance in reporting the news. Our news reporting principles are what make us a beacon that has sustained us for so long. Readers can trust us to condemn or praise individuals and it will be truthful.
The Americus Sumter Observer has a dedicated, seasoned, active writing staff that sniffs out wrongdoings in our community, and write unbiased facts. This is especially true with our elected officials and prominent county individuals whose actions affect the community. Our local writers consist of our contributing editor Samuel A. Christie of Savannah, GA, reporter Millard Ives of Ocala, FL, and Rhonda Brown, contributing editor, New York. Our administrative staff has been just as dedicated over the years; they are Mrs. Sybil Patterson who manages the office; Christopher Davis who lays out the newspaper; Calvin Minter and Brandon Morgan distribute the newspaper; and Breanca Denmark, Diamond Denmark, and Kristopher Davis handle all mailing; Travis Walker web page designer, Bobby Prince, Jr. staff assistant.
We cannot thank our advertisers enough, especially those who supported us when many others fought against our newspaper and tried to intimidate them from advertising. After 21 years, our mission remains the same: to inform the community with truthful reporting. We can boldly state that no one has shown that we are dishonest in our 21 years of reporting.
During our 21 years, we have had to fight with the Americus Times Recorder (TR), a former daily newspaper that has been reduced to once a week printing. We would like to think we had something to do with their near demise. The Recorder has always reported unflattering and inaccurate news about the county’s Black community.
Blacks and Whites of the community have been very supportive by reading the Observer. Our paper’s motto is, “An Eye for Us” which we think we have lived up to it. And the Eye is not just for Black people in Sumter County, many Whites have been better informed because of our reporting as well. The Observer exposed many politicians who have betrayed the Black community during the 21 years. We challenged the crookedness of Representative Michael Cheokas who Blacks voted for as a
Democrat, and he switched to the Republican Party; he was defeated in the November 2016 election. Labeled an “Uncle Tom” by our editorial board on many occasions, Councilwoman Shirley Reese displayed a readiness to always vote against her Black colleagues on the City Council, she was defeated in 2017. And Dr. Michael Busman, the school board chairman, by far has generated the most negative articles in our 21 years because of his continuous misconduct in office. He will not be the school board chairman for long as the districts will be in accordance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
We further report that the Sumter County School Districts that were changed by Rep Cheokas and State Rep. Freddie Powell Sims have been reversed back to seven member districts which would return control back to a Black majority school board. We want to thank the ACLU and Attorney Laughlin McDonald and his legal team for our victory. We will report to the community the amount of money the Sumter County White Commissioners spent to keep the White majority school board White. We were amazed that those commissioners used $million dollar law firms from Atlanta and Washington, D.C.
We pray that God will guide our path and help deliver justice to those who have suffered under ruthless politicians for many more years. In the meantime, we will continue to report news that peels back the layers of those who try to deceive this community. As with all efforts to improve the lives of our community, we will win some and we will lose some. But we expect to win more than we lose because we report the facts.