Joe Madison, Radio Personality And Civil Rights Activist Dies at 74
Madison was a key figure in helping to fundraise for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, raising over $250,000 for the museum during a Guinness Book of World Records breaking 52 hour marathon radio session. The post Joe Madison, Radio Personality And Civil Rights Activist Dies at 74 first appeared on Black Enterprise.
Joe Madison, longtime radio host and influential civil rights activist, died following a battle with prostate cancer at 74. As NBC Washington reports, no cause of death has yet been announced, but Madison did take a leave of absence from hosting his radio show in December 2023 to address health concerns. He had been battling prostate cancer.
Madison, who was known as The Black Eagle, was involved in the civil rights movement before he went to the airwaves, often posing the question “What are you gonna do about it?” to his listeners. Madison is remembered as one of those who served as a voice for the voiceless, as Kojo Nnamdi from WAMU told NBC Washington, “He comes from a tradition of activism, and he understands that change only occurs when people take part in some form of movement or some form of struggle.”
Nnamdi continued, “The passion is what characterized Joe Madison’s entire career. This is a man who went on hunger strikes in support of causes he was invested in. When you listened to Joe Madison, you picked up that passion yourself.”
Madison began as a leader in the Detroit Branch of the NAACP, becoming the youngest person to lead a chapter at just 24 years old. He later served as the NAACP’s national politics director and on its national board. As Dayton Daily News reports, Madison began his career in radio in 1980 after he spearheaded a series of voter registration marches, which also gathered signatures for an anti-apartheid bill in Congress. Madison started off at WZYX in Detroit, before eventually moving to WWDB in Philadelphia and WOL and WWRC in Washington D.C. it was his work at WOL which would lead to a syndicated program on the Radio One Talk Network and its associated XM satellite channel, which would merge with Sirius and become SiriusXM in 2008.
Madison was a key figure in helping to fundraise for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, raising over $250,000 for the museum during a Guinness Book of World Records breaking 52 hour marathon radio session. Five months later, Madison would broadcast from Cuba, in doing so he became the first American radio host to broadcast from the country in over 50 years.
In 2021, Madison went on a hunger strike to bring attention to he Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act. At the time, no one knew he was dealing with prostate cancer while he was doing it, and when asked about it, Madison, ever the activist, replied, “I am willing to die.” For his efforts in assisting to get the Act passed, Madison was recognized by then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in her speech commemorating the Act. SiriusXM released a statement shortly after Madison’s death was confirmed, also posting it to Twitter/X, “Joe Madison led an incredible, impactful life,” SiriusXM noted in a statement. “He was also an invaluable member of the SiriusXM family and a treasured colleague and friend. Our hearts go out to his beloved wife, Sherry, along with his entire family, his devoted listeners, and the countless people he inspired with his determination to make the world a better place.”
Joe Madison is survived by his wife of over 45 years, Sharon, four children, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
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The post Joe Madison, Radio Personality And Civil Rights Activist Dies at 74 first appeared on Black Enterprise.