Roland Martin is not leaving CNN quietly.
Martin’s last appearance on CNN was Friday after the network decided not to renew his contract.
But in an interview with the Huffington Post, Martin said that executives at CNN were uncomfortable with hiring black people as hosts and systematically stunted his rise at the network because he is a bold, opinionated African American man.
Martin said he came to CNN with the intention of getting his own show. He said that it was never made clear to him why he was not moving up at CNN, but he suspected that it was about race – and being black.
“You have largely white male executives who are not necessarily enamored with the idea of having strong, confident minorities who say, ‘I can do this,'” Martin said. “We deliver, but we never get the big piece, the larger salary, to be able to get from here to there.”
Martin said that he hosted highly-rated specials for CNN, so he didn’t understand why he wasn’t rewarded.
“If it’s a ratings game, and we won, how is it I never got a show?” he said.
Martin’s contract ended as CNN also parted ways with Soledad O’Brien but CNN also hired two high-profile white anchors, Jake Tapper and Chris Cuomo.
CNN President Jeff Zucker proudly said Tapper is now “the face of the new CNN” as some black journalists questioned why the “face” has to be white.
Martin was CNN’s highest-profile African American commentator and is followed by many viewers. Since rumors circulated that Martin could leave CNN, the network has offered more on-air opportunities to Van Jones, a former Obama administration adviser. Jones is also black.
Martin is known for his straight-forward, in-your-face analysis and fans say Martin is one of the few television commentators who keeps it real by articulating a black perspective on-air.
“I’ve worked hard to ensure that my voice wasn’t heard in one place,” Martin told Richard Prince, who writes a popular diversity column, “Journal-isms,” for the Maynard Institute. “I will continue with my show on TV One, a network I was with before CNN; will continue my daily segment on the Tom Joyner Morning Show; and will continue my nationally-syndicated column.”
“In the past few weeks since all of this speculation began, I have [had] numerous people reach out to me expressing their strong feelings about my work,” Martin said.
“Many of them are in entertainment, sports, politics, business, and everyday people,” he added. “Their feedback has been nothing short of amazing, whether it’s Sidney Poitier, Hank Aaron, Harry Belafonte, Charles Barkley, Stevie Wonder, to the brothers and sisters shouting at me as I walk down the streets of DC, New York, Houston, Detroit and other cities. I appreciate all of the love and support. It’s always amazing to me how you can be on for a short period of time but affect people in so many different ways.”