WLBT Television

On April 15, 1965, the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny renewal of Lamar Life Insurance Company’s broadcast license to operate WLBT. The petition was filed on the grounds that the station had failed to serve Jackson’s African American community, which constituted 40% of its viewers at the time. It was the first such petition ever filed by a national religious denomination in news and program content, and lack of African American entertainers. Portions of the documentation for the petition were secretly prepared by progressive white women. Lamar Life Insurance Company eventually lost its broadcast license to Communications Improvement, Inc., a company with 91% African American ownership; it assumed operation of WLBT in June 1971 and hired William H. Dilday as the station’s first African American manager.

Sources:

“Civil Rights Driving Tour of Hinds County”produced by the Associated Press, Tougaloo College, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Development Authority (Tourism Division).