NEW ORLEANS -- Bill Rouselle is the co- founder of the Bright Moments advertising agency in New Orleans.
He grew up in New Orleans and worked in the media for many decades, but his first day on the job as one of the first African American reporters in TV was a memorable day that helped shape his career.
Rouselle shared his story with WGNO-News with a Twist recently. As part of our yearlong commemoration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated 49 years ago this month, we are reflecting on the past, evaluating the present – and seeking solutions for the future.
"I finished Xavier University in 1967. I had an opportunity to got to New York as a publishing intern. This is back when affirmative action was in it's heyday and they were looking to get more African Americans into various kinds of fields and I went to work at Time magazine as a publishing intern," Rouselle told us. "I came home after about a year after I started working there and while I was here I was asked to do a career day by the Urban League. The Urban League president, Clarence Barney, told me that the TV stations were looking to hire Negroes. We were Negroes back then."
Rouselle had an interview with WDSU, and it went well. It went well enough for the bosses to ask Rouselle to come back to the TV station and get a feel for what it's like in a newsroom.
"I went to the station, it was a Friday, it was April the 4th, 1968," Rouselle recalled. "As I walked in the station and into the newsroom, news came across that Martin Luther King had been shot. So my first day in a TV station was to witness the coverage of the Martin Luther King assassination."
What happened next helped to shape Rouselle's career.
"Between 6 and 10, I was in the news room and all this information was coming across the UPI and AP wires about riots in New York, riots in Washington, Detroit, as people were reacting to King's murder," Rouselle said. "About 9-9:15 a police officer came to the station and met with the news director and he must have told the news director that they were concerned and they didn't want the station to air what was happening with the riots in the other cities. So my first day in a TV station was watching censorship. News was being withheld from the people in my community. And to a large degree that kinda set a pattern for my life because I felt from that time on, that I would do everything that I could to make sure people understood the truth, knew the truth, and had access to information."