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Two brothers battle to make a difference

Devon A. Mosley | 8/23/2013, 7:21 a.m.
When you think of cable television in the late 1970s, what comes to mind? Dallas? Fantasy Island? The Incredible Hulk? ...
Clinton Galloway and the cover of Anatomy of a Hustle

The Dallas Examiner

When you think of cable television in the late 1970s, what comes to mind? Dallas? Fantasy Island? The Incredible Hulk? The A-Team?

When Los Angeles doctor and small business owner Carl Galloway thought of cable television in 1978, the first thing that popped into his head was the potential rise of the poverty-stricken South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles – educationally, economically and technologically.

The late Carl Galloway and his brother, Clinton Galloway, would attempt to help bring up this community by starting a cable franchise there, offering solution-based and more productive programming. But little did they know the political hurdles that lay before them.

In Clinton’s memoir, Anatomy of a Hustle: Cable Comes to South Central, he tells the story of two successful young brothers leading a small army of community leaders on the battlefields of local and federal politics, with the hope of winning a victory for the 180,000 households in the South Central community. Their strategy and weapon of choice was cable television.

While applying for the South Central cable franchise area, the Galloway brothers experienced numerous detours and impediments set by the Los Angeles City Hall during the era of Black Mayor Tom Bradley.

These obstacles were part of the “hustle” – a “clever confidence game” that public officials played on the two brothers that denied them the opportunity to start a cable television franchise and assist their impoverished neighbors.

In this beautifully written, thrilling and suspenseful unfolding, this “hustle” would ultimately take place in conference rooms, council chambers, committee rooms and courtrooms, and on the backs of a community that would not receive cable television – and thus be denied technological, education, and social access and opportunity – till over 20 years later.

After the blocking of their well-resourced application for the cable franchise at the local level, the Galloway brothers’ filed a federal law suit against the city of Los Angeles that would eventually end up at the U.S. Supreme Court. Its ruling was in favor of the Galloway brothers, but the outcome of their case is one that you’d least expect.

The Dallas Examiner: With respect to the title of your book, what was the “brain” or centerpiece of the “hustle”? Was it money, politicians wanting to control information, pure malice towards the minority community, or the real estate and media tycoons and West Los Angeles?

Clinton Galloway: It really came down to the people that were people really close to Mayor Bradley. How do you hustle a community who has nothing? You take their rights. You can’t win this [political] game. It’s a hustle. The hustle comes down to denying people [of South Central] technology and economic independence. These people lack political and financial power. The purpose of government is to serve the people. Black politicians were telling us one thing and doing another. We’ve talked [to several Black powerbrokers], like the NAACP, Jesse Jackson, and no one has done anything. The Democratic Party controls [African Americans], and they have taken our vote for granted.