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I am privileged to have known Talbert in those early times, but I was not aware of what he was facing. He was humming a tune in the hallway when we first met, as I recall. To me, he was a friend in broadcasting when we both worked at WESH-TV2, and we shared an interest in music recording. 50 years later, I discovered he had compiled a record of his experience in an online “flip book” publication, “Through the Fire”. It wasn’t until reading his story that I realized the extent of the struggles and the successes he experienced. I contacted Talbert and met with him, and he agreed to let me edit and publish his story. (editor, Tim Trott)

In the early 1970s, Talbert Gray was the first black television news reporter in Florida. He faced the racial barriers and broke through them, and he continued to challenge the norms, adding to his list of “firsts” for decades to come.

I had problems with law enforcement agencies.  At crime scenes, police would block me from entering the area of robberies or shootings for a while. It was even worse if the victims were white and almost impossible to film a crime with a white woman injured or killed. Some of the animosity against me came from orders given by Sheriff Dave Starr of Orange County. 

“Sheriff McCall … surveyed the crowd of news reporters and looked at me. He turned back (to) his assistant, and I heard him say, “What is that”, pointing at me. “

In another experience, Talbert describes being hired to shoot promotional film for some local businesses:

“We recorded downtown Kissimmee businesses…. We were invited to this country and western bar to shoot the bar’s wild cowboy atmosphere… After we worked all day on this one bar, my crew wanted to get a beer.  When we all sat at the bar the bartender told us that they couldn’t serve Negros (said with a deep southern accent).  No kidding.  I was refused service including drinks or food. “

You will need to read the book to find out what happened after that.

Talbert’s accomplishments go beyond breaking racial barriers, to owning radio stations and making his mark in journalism. His story presents a compelling and motivational narration of accomplishment and achievement.


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