In Memoriam: Tributes pour in for host, activist Joe Madison

Stacy M. Brown/NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent | 2/8/2024, 6 p.m.
Tributes poured in following the death of Joe Madison, the talk show host, activist and philanthropist known as “The Black …
Mr. Madison

Tributes poured in following the death of Joe Madison, the talk show host, activist and philanthropist known as “The Black Eagle.” After a lengthy bout with prostate cancer, the popular SiriusXM host died on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. He was 74.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., president and CEO of NNPA, stated, “On behalf of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, representing the Black Press of America, we express our profound condolences to the family of Joe Madison. As a trailblazer and consistent freedom fighter journalist and broadcaster, Joe Madison embodied the essence and courage to speak truth to power.”

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris also offered their thoughts. “Whether it was a hunger strike for voting rights or his advocacy for anti-lynching legislation that I was proud to sign in 2022, Joe fought hard against injustice,” President Biden stated.

Madison aligned his platform with his purpose, Vice President Harris added. “Through his decades-long career in radio, he championed the fight for equity and justice. Our nation is better because of his voice.”

According to his official bio, the native of Dayton, Ohio, was an All-Conference running back at Washington University in St. Louis where he was also a baritone soloist in the university choir and a disc jockey at the campus radio station. He earned his bachelor’s in sociology, becoming the first person in his family to graduate college.

In 2015, Mr. Madison set the Guinness World Record for the longest on-air broadcast, 52 hours. During the record-breaking show, he raised more than $250,000 for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Five months later, Mr. Madison made history again by broadcasting live from Cuba and becoming the first American radio host to do so in more than 50 years.

In 2021, Mr. Madison went on a 73-day hunger strike to encourage passage of voting rights bills. Unbeknownst to his listeners, he was fighting prostate cancer during his hunger strike. When asked if he understood the danger he was in, he replied, “I am willing to die.”

Mr. Madison was married to his wife, Sharon, for more than 45 years. His family includes four children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.