EDITORIAL: Views From the Nation's Press

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Aug. 6—The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Bill Russell and Nichelle Nichols, American heroes:

There's a reason for the simultaneous mourning and celebration of the lives of a basketball player and an actress, both out of the public eye for years. Nichelle Nichols, 89, and Bill Russell, 88, were born during the Great Depression into a society that defined them as second-class citizens simply because they were Black.

One of the most dominant high school and college basketball players in the country, Russell led Team USA to gold at the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956. He then led the formerly mediocre Boston Celtics to 11 NBA championships, including a record eight in a row, during a decade of intense racial strife in that city. As much as many white Bostonians hated cheering for Black players, they made an exception for the Black man whose play created the city's first great sports dynasty.

But it wasn't his athletic success than made him a hero. Russell was also an active civil rights crusader who didn't ignore the racial inequalities of the day for the sake of making his integration into the locker room and the arena floor smoother. He contributed money to the movement and recruited other Black athletes. He attended Martin Luther King's 1963 March on Washington.

He was a man of conscience with an abiding hope in the American ideals the march represented. His dignity and leadership made millions of otherwise indifferent citizens more sympathetic to the cause of civil rights.

Nichols wasn't a world-class athlete, but her image was beamed around the world. In 1966 she assumed the role of Lt. Uhura, the communications officer and fourth in command of the starship Enterprise on "Star Trek." It was a revolutionary bit of casting.

She was the first Black actress to have a nonsubservient role on a television series. Her character was beautiful, intelligent and utterly different from the depiction of Black women in popular culture at the time. She was a declaration that Black people would someday enjoy full equality with white Americans. It was a shocking premise for American television.

But it wasn't her television success that made her a hero. Like Russell, Nichols lived by her principles. When she wanted to quit "Star Trek" after the first season to do a stint on Broadway, MLK talked her out of it. Her role was too important to the advancement of Black people, he said, for her to step away. She gave up Broadway and thus became an indispensable part of a pop culture phenomenon that has shaped the attitudes about race of several generations.

Nichelle Nichols and Bill Russell reminded America that it could do better. By going boldly where few Americans had gone before, they defined what this country can be.

The New York Daily News on the city must release its archives on air quality during the 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts:

Just as the full truth behind the 9/11 attack and the missed clues beforehand, including the long-hidden classified Saudi files, had to come out so that ignoramuses like Donald Trump couldn't claim "nobody's gotten to the bottom of 9/11," (well, he can say it and does say it, but it's transparently untrue), so must the full truth of what happened regarding the deadly toxins unleashed into the air when the World Trade Center collapsed into a miles-high column of pulverized concrete, steel and glass.

Lawyers for the City of New York are sitting on a hidden library of documents about the environmental and health hazards from Ground Zero dating back to 2001 that must be published.

Survivors and responders want to know what the city knew, and Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney have been pressing for years for City Hall to release the archive. The Daily News now reports that lawyers for Mayor Eric Adams are willing to relent, but only if Congress grants the city immunity from any future lawsuits. And the city gets to hold on to the remaining $300 million in what's called the captive insurance fund created to cover ligation against contractors working on the WTC recovery. And the feds put aside money for other cases.

To us, that's all unnecessary. Anyone whose health was damaged by exposure to WTC debris and joined the federal 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund — which has paid out in excess of $10 billion to more than 45,000 people — gave up their right to sue, so it's hard to imagine anyone bringing a legal claim. And even if there is a case or two, the city's liability is already limited to $350 million.

And we don't see the argument to keeping the remaining money in the captive insurance fund either.

The point isn't about cash, but the truth. The whole truth, like in the oath witnesses take in court. That's what is needed here. Mr. Mayor, override the lawyers and publish the full record.