The Americus Sumter Observer 20 Years Strong

ASO File
Photo John Marshall, MD, Publisher, Rev. Mathis and Minister Linda Wright, Writers, Ms. Sybil Patterson, Office Manager and seated Christophe Davis, Paginator (layout).

Staff Reports

It is unimaginable that our community’s newspaper, the Americus Sumter Observer (ASO) has turned 20, and since its 1997 inception, has survived so many challenges and attacks during those 20 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 20 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 husband and wife team, Reverend Matt Wright and Minister Linda Wright; Samuel A. Christie of Savannah, GA, a contributing editor; and Millard Ives of Ocala, FL, the paper’s main reporter; and Rhonda Brown, contributing editor. 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.

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 20 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 20 years of reporting.

During our 20 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 20 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 displays a readiness to always vote against her Black colleagues on the City Council. And Dr. Michael Busman, the school board chairman, by far has generated the most negative articles in our 20 years because of his continuous misconduct in office and in his private life.

We pray that God will guide our path and help deliver justice to those who suffer under these 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.

We supported the lawsuit in federal court which challenged the unfair redistricting of the school board districts which changed the leadership from Black to White. Rev Matt Wright was joined in his lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Laughlin McDonald; they knew that the redistricting violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The District change was made possible by the former Republican Rep Mike Cheokas and Black Democrat State Senator Freddie Powell Sims with what is called a “Local Bill.” The case went to the Federal Court in Albany where Judge Louis Sands agreed with the school district changes. Rev Wright and the ACLU appealed the case to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals that remanded the case back to Judge Sands to consider certain merits of the case that he did not consider.

Finally, thanks to our local readers and those beyond Sumter County. Our subscribers are all over the country, and we don’t have any idea how many people we reach on the Internet: www.americusumterobserver.com.

We can be reached by email: sumterobserver@bellsouth.net or mail us at P.O. Box 1755 or call us at 229 924 0880