Longform

Keith Clayborne in Black and White

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One of the county's few black Republican leaders, Al Calloway, studies the bonhomie surrounding Clayborne as the publisher moves among the crowd. "I know what's it like to take a different road. How many Republicans do you know who are black?" Calloway asks. "I admire Keith because he can say the unpopular thing."

Clayborne's contrarian views are certainly popular in the Eggelletion camp. When his wife, Bernadette, appears midway through the evening, camera in hand, to photograph Eggelletion and key supporters for the next issue of the Times, Clayborne tries to stand outside the camera's view. Yet someone manages to hustle him into at least one of Bernadette's shots.

For Clayborne, an Eggelletion defeat this night would reaffirm the self-interested parochialism of local black leaders. "Joe [Eggelletion]'s not perfect, I'm not saying that," he comments, watching the politician gravely studying returns. "But he can establish a new paradigm for leadership and behavior, in which blacks recognize they are part of a much larger community." Clayborne has done what he can to make that happen.

By midnight, his effort bears fruit. As the numbers pour in, the crowd grows animated and confident. Now all smiles, Eggelletion emerges victorious, with 55 percent of the vote. This marks a serious setback for Moore; not only has he failed in his bid to win the Broward County Commission seat, but as of November 21, he will step down from the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, having resigned to take on Eggelletion. He'll be forced to run again in a December 5 special election to regain his city seat.

Moore did not return calls from New Times seeking comment on Clayborne, his newspaper, or their effect on Moore's campaign and career. The next morning Clayborne gets to work early, hiding in his home office, where he struggles to write copy that will put the election in perspective for readers of his Friday paper.


If you ask Keith Clayborne whether he's a newsman or a businessman first, he equivocates: "I'm in the business of news." He defines the reality of his paper in and out of print as a business. "It's not a black-advocacy arm," he stresses.

Clayborne would apply that description to The Westside Gazette, his only competition. The Gazette offers "positive" news about blacks to a readership of about 50,000 people, according to editor and publisher Bobby Henry, who inherited the paper from his father, Levi Henry, and operates it out of a former public school and mostly abandoned business incubator maintained by the City of Fort Lauderdale. His staff of 13 includes many family members.

Like most black-owned newspapers in the United States, he says, the 30-year-old Gazette provided black readers with a community identity when the white-owned dailies ignored them. Today the paper continues to devote its 32 weekly pages to stories about Kiwanis Club meetings, literacy grants that could help black children, sports teams and players, and black political candidates facing off in upcoming elections. The political stories offer no opinion and report nothing controversial, including revelations about candidates printed by mainstream dailies.

The "positive" approach distinguishes him from Clayborne, Henry says. "Our philosophies differ. I think the election hurt the black community, and it was slanted by Keith and by the white press. We're here to highlight the positives of our people. The attacks on Walters and Moore have not been the role of the black press -- that's just buying into the mainstream media. When a point was made about Walters moving into a house on Las Olas, they jumped on it. Do you think the Sun-Sentinel would have written about it if he'd moved into a house on Sistrunk? You know they wouldn't."



Henry blames Clayborne in part for firing up a divisive fight.

"Anybody can muckrake," he says. "And nobody's squeaky clean. Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone."

Terry Lewis. the doctoral candidate at FAU's Center For Urban Development, says both papers have a place, and the quiet animosity between their editors has a history. "One day years ago I was on a radio show with the Henrys, Levi and Bobby, and with Keith," he recalls. "And the old man became so angry he wanted to fight Keith. Nothing happened, though."

One of the few wholehearted apologists for The Broward Times, Lewis grew up reading one of the country's most well-known black newspapers, The Amsterdam News, printed in his hometown of Harlem. "The Westside Gazette is more like The Amsterdam News in that it tries to put a good face on everything," Lewis says, noting that other famous black-community newspapers do the same thing: The Los Angeles Sentinel, The Chicago Defender, and The Philadelphia Tribune, the nation's oldest. "But Keith is like, "OK, look, we have a problem.' Keith's paper has a mindset that is not typical of South Florida. Look at The Miami Times, too. They don't do hard pieces, and they have the resources, the advertising staff, everything." (Miami Times owner Garth Reeves did not return telephone calls seeking comment for this story.)

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Roger Williams