Behold the Man!

by Adrian Council Sr.

The Positive Community (TPC) was sad to learn of the passing of Rev. Dr. Frank J. Blackshear on May 8 at the age of 77. He was a dear friend and spiritual mentor. Pastor of Greater Zion Hill Baptist Church in Harlem, Rev. Blackshear was also past president of the Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Greater NY and Vicinity (BMCGNY& V). He was president of National Progressive Baptist Convention, Eastern Region (see obituary online at

I first met Dr. Blackshear in 1996, when I was General Sales Manager at Inner City Broadcasting Corporation’s (ICBC) WLIB. The radio station and its sister station WBLS was then owned by former Manhattan Borough President and Malcolm X attorney, the late Percy E. Sutton. The strategy at the time was to marry the interests of the Black Church, an institution of traditional culture, with the radio stations as an institution of contemporary culture. The WLIB Clergy Council was created and Jean Wells Associates was commissioned by ICBC to produce a monthly newsletter. The WLIB Good News Newsletter was created to highlight the relationship.

A Legacy
Each month a delegation led by BMCGNY&V president, the late Rev. Dr. Shelly Sampson would meet in the corporate boardroom with WLIB’s leadership team to discuss community issues—how do we make things better? Rev. Blackshear was then 1st vice president. On the initial visit while touring the radio stations, Blackshear pulled me off to the side to admonish me, “We’re counting on you to deliver the results in this relationship.”
One year later, after his installation as president of the Baptist Ministers’ Conference, “New York City’s oldest and largest clergy leadership organization ”, Dr. Blackshear soon began to inquire about creating a newsletter that would keep its membership informed, much like the one we produced at WLIB. In the fall of 1999, The Baptist Ministers’ Conference’s Positive Community News was born. By September 2000, the monthly ecumenical publication, The Positive Community: Good News from the Church and Community was established . . . and the rest is history!

The Positive Community magazine, our community of readers in the NY/NJ region, and especially our faith institutions, owes a debt of gratitude for the life of Rev. Blackshear for his leadership, wisdom, foresight, encouragement and advocacy. Behold, this man of God was truly about the progress of his people. His legacy lives on in this publication and in the spirit of our loving service! And, just as we honor the prophets of old, and their mighty works, we too would do well not to forget, ignore nor
take for granted the truth-bearers of our present times!

The Business about the Future!
Twenty years later, one could ask, “where would the people be today without The Positive Community; would things be better or worse?” I know only this: TPC remains steadfast in its commitment to reflect the very best in Black life and culture. We are about the progress of our children, and the integrity of our African American culture, values and traditions—our collective soul. Ultimately, our objective is to promote community-building ideals: self-acceptance, self-reliance and self-respect!

Indeed, The Positive Community is about the business the future! We encourage your continued advocacy and support as we move through our 20th anniversary season. If you own or operate a small business, a large corporation or lead a community or government institution, TPC is where you establish real and meaningful (qualitative) relationships among our community of readers and consumers through advertising.

Is your congregation receiving bulk deliveries of the magazine as a member of TPC’s Great Roll Call to Progress (see page 7)? Do you own a Cultural Narrative poster; have you shared it with a child at home, in school or in church? Yes, each of us can do something positive today to establish our claim on the American Dream and affirm the dignity of our humanity for all future generations—now!

Look for news about the re-launch of our all new digital platform: Join us on June 12th at Marion P. Thomas Charter School in Newark, for a roundtable conversation on Music, Spirituality and Social Impact. Stay tuned for a very special announcement about TPC’s anniversary: The “1/1/2020/20 Project” and the Season of Freedom! . . . Because a positive community is everybody’s business… it really pays to care!