By Lynne Hayes-Freeland

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When Bev Smith opens radio show on the Friday for a town hall meeting, Minister Louis Farrakhan will be on the panel of guests and that is stirring a controversy.

“My intent is to have a discussion with black people about their obligations, their responsibility to correct some of the ills within, internally,” said host Bev Smith of the American Urban Radio Networks.

But word as word spread quickly about the broadcast, so did opposition. The Jewish Chronicle newspaper printed a full editorial in protest to the appearance by Farrakhan.

“He is considered by many in this country to be an anti-Semite,” Rabbi Alvin Berkun said. “He’s had opportunities to back off his position, he won’t and he doesn’t.”

“So the show is trying to boost its ratings, in my opinion, and so you bring in someone who will yell fire at a packed movie theater and it’s sad.”

Smith says the meeting is more about the black community and not about Farrakhan’s other beliefs.

“The purpose of the conversation is not to talk about the Jewish community, not to talk about Libya, not to talk about Barack Obama,” Smith said. “The purpose of this conversation is to talk about us and how we have arrived, how we have allowed ourselves to get in the position that we are in and why there is no hue and cry in the streets to change?”

Rabbi Berkun counters however, to bring Farrakhan to the city is almost a slap in the face to the Jewish community.

The event at the August Wilson which is free to the public, but requires tickets, is sold out.

Bev Smith
American Urban Radio Networks
August Wilson Center