I just received the sad news that the inimitable Terry Anderson, the beloved "Prisoner of South Central," has died of liver and pancreatic cancer. There was no one quite like him. I met Anderson a few years ago at a radio studio in Glendale, California. He hosted a Sunday night show that focused on one subject: illegal immigration. When he started, the experts told him a one-subject show would never last. That was more than ten years ago.
Anderson was one of those fascinating California hybrids. Although black in language and culture, he had more than a little Cherokee in the veins. This multiracial mix may be what gave him a clearer perspective on race in California than most of his peers. The day I met him he had just come from a rally of African Americans against illegal immigration in South Central LA's Leimert Park. In attendance, in addition to Anderson, were the Black Minuteman and the Mothers Against Illegal Immigration. "The anger was unbelievable," Anderson told me, and I did not doubt him. Some of that anger derived from the fact that the media refused to acknowledge black concerns about illegal immigration and their resistance to the same.
As Anderson explained, blacks and browns tend to meet at the roughest edge of their respective colliding plates -- the streets, the schools, and the prisons, and sometimes those edges blur. This is a conflict that the media in California and elsewhere do not want the public to know about that Anderson was intent on exposing. But Anderson's concerns went beyond South Central. He cared deeply about the well being of the country writ large. "If You Ain't Mad, You Ain't Payin' Attention!" said Anderson. To the end, he stayed mad, but mad in a good way, mad enough to take on forces much more powerful than he, mad enough to believe that America was worth fighting for. Sunday nights in LA will never be the same. Messages and cards may be sent to 12400 Ventura Blvd. #643, Studio City, CA 91604.