Guyana-born radio producer joins the ancestors


Photo courtesy of Vinette K. Pryce

The lyrics to the popular Marvin Sapp gospel testament – “Never Would Have made It Without You” is being repeated with parallel to Guyana native Joseph D. Livingstone who died at 1:00 p.m. on March 14. Most people knew him as J.D. the go-to intermediary between Rev. Al Sharpton and the NYPD. As crisis manager of the National Action Network for more than a decade and a half, JD fielded phone calls related to police brutality, immigration, housing, education, medical care, Civil Rights etc before relaying concerns to the activist preacher.

“JD was the drumbeat that kept the movement informed, aware, and at the ready,” Sharpton said after hearing that cancer had claimed the life of the loyal immigrant.

First to arrive daily at the headquarters of the National Action Network, JD was always last to leave after shuttering the doors to the Harlem landmark.

“We will miss his presence, fellowship and dedication.”

“He accommodated NAN members,” Vena Baker said, “After the Saturday rally members use to linger, talk and commune with each other. With JD, members knew they could always watch television, share ideas, read or just hang out. After he became ill and was forced to take it easy, some members said they would return to NAN when JD did.”

Livingstone discovered his terminal condition two years ago when he was admitted to Harlem Hospital. After several months his condition seemed to improve. He received out-patient care at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx. And for a period, Livingstone resumed his routine of compiling newspapers, books, and making phone calls.

“I believe some of us were in denial,” reporter Peter Noel said. “We wanted to believe he had beaten the cancer and he probably did too.”

Although Livingstone did not return to NAN after his release from Harlem Hospital, he resumed producing every show hosted by Imhotep Gary Byrd. He was the mover and shaker behind production of New York’s most radio communicator Imhotep Gary Byrd. Byrd is the host and originator of the Global Black/Beat Experience, Express Yourself and Mind-flight aired at WBAI-FM, WBLS-FM and WBAI-AM respectively. But it was his producer JD who booked, pre-interviewed and executed the cultural radio programs.

“JD was a soldier,” Byrd said. “He was determined to work until the end and did up until one week ago when he produced two programs – “Express Yourself” and “The Mind Flight.”

According to Byrd, the following day, Livingstone was admitted to Lincoln Hospital and four days later, on Byrd’s 65th birthday Livingstone died.

Two days after his death, reports of his passing dominated newspapers throughout the Caribbean region. Jamaica Tribune, Dominica Gazette, St. Kitts Gazette, Grenada Chronicle, St. Vincent Tribune and others hailed his service and championed the behind-the-scenes communication major who studied at the University of the West Indies who found his niche in New York City working in the media capital of the world. Livingstone will be cremated and a memorial ceremony will be held in his honor at the Harlem State office Building, on March 29, at 2:00 p.m.

More from Around NYC