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April 10, 2001

Editorial

CHANGE

The editorial in Vol. XIX, No. 1 was titled "Change" because it described several changes taking place within The Harbinger at the beginning of this publishing year and throughout its 18 years of existence as an alternative community newspaper in Mobile. "Change" is also an appropriate title for this issue, the last of Vol. XIX, because it marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another for The Harbinger and its staff.

Some Harbinger readers probably already know that I am leaving Mobile for Kalamazoo, Michigan. Consequently, the community newspaper part of The Harbinger will cease after this issue; the public forum/life-long learning mission of The Harbinger will likely continue, at least in Kalamazoo. And the Harbinger web page, which has proved to be useful to professors and students across the U.S., will remain open.

Someone has asked me to include a history of The Harbinger in the last issue. I think the Harbinger's existence is too short to warrant one. However, I will give an account of how it got started. In 1982/1983, I was the faculty advisor of two student groups that had just formed: the Book Co-Op, which allowed students to buy and sell textbooks among themselves to save money, and the Mobile chapter of Amnesty International, whose purpose is to write letters on behalf of political prisoners. We found out that all the PSA's we sent to the student newspaper over a two-month period about the activities of these two groups had resulted in zero mention in the student newspaper. That triggered the inspiration to form an alternative newspaper that I proposed to Michael Smith, then a graduate student in the English Department. He recruited Michael Ivy, Jussara Cavalin, Jennifer Guinan, and I recruited Mike Nelson, and we put out the first issue in March 1983 under the banner On Guard. Two years later, we changed the name of the newspaper to The Harbinger and expanded the focus of the paper to cover the entire Mobile community. The University of South Alabama Archives has a complete collection of The Harbinger and soon will have other artifacts about The Harbinger.

I would like to take this opportunity to say "thank-you" and "it has been a great ride" to all those who have contributed so freely their time, talent, and energy to join me in the endeavors of The Harbinger. We met the deadline of every issue of the newspaper for the past eighteen years; facilitated twenty educational forums and symposia; published two books; and produced an album by local rock-n-rollers. In the process, you have taught me much about myself and have given me the opportunity to hone my skills. You will always be special in my memory of Mobile. (See the list of the persons who have contributed to the efforts of the newspaper.)

Finally, I want to thank the supporters and advertisers and even the readers of The Harbinger, because they help demonstrate that the freedom to express alternative viewpoints is tolerated, even in Mobile, Alabama. The Unitarian Universalist of Mobile is hosting a farewell wine-and-cheese on April 27 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in their fellowship hall (6345 Old Shell Road, between Stanky Field and Hillcrest). Please stop by, so I can say "thank you" in person.

-- Edmund Tsang


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