Black Press Week galvanizes advocacy, celebrates legacy and mobilizes voters

NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. adds fire to his State of the Black Press address at the National Press Club on March 15, 2024 PHOTOS BY MARK MAHONEY

By Stacy M. Brown,
NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent,

In a stirring celebration of 197 years of unwavering advocacy, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) convened for Black Press Week to celebrate the March 16, 1827, founding of Freedom’s Journal. This year’s observance, which featured the NNPA’s annual Board of Directors meeting and a visit to the White House, resonated with the theme “Getting Out the Black Vote.”
The NNPA is the trade association of the more than 250 African-American owned newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America. While six new publishers were accepted for membership, the week of activities included the Black Press Archives and Gallery of Distinguished Newspaper Publishers enshrinement ceremony, a visit down memory lane, and the State of the Black Press Luncheon at the National Press Club.
Highlighting activities was the NNPA’s partnership with Howard University. At the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, African drummers led a procession into the Founders Library for a ceremony to enshrine Zora Neale Hurston in the Gallery of Distinguished Black Publishers. A journalist, author and folklorist, Hurston helped publish the inaugural issue of Howard University’s newspaper in 1924 and joined the Howard Literary Club. Among other accolades, Hurston was counted as one of the preeminent writers of twentieth-century African-American literature.
During the week, guests were treated to a fascinating discussion and tour of Howard University’s Black Press Archives Digitization Project. Senior Project Manager Brandon Nightingale illuminated the painstaking process of digitizing over 2,000 newspaper titles, preserving the Black experience for future generations.
At the heart of the week’s observance was the State of the Black Press Luncheon, held at the prestigious National Press Club. The event opened with a compelling video montage tracing the civil rights struggle, and setting the stage for impassioned speeches and reflections, including a video tribute from South Carolina Democratic Congressman James Clyburn.

The NNPA visits the White House during Black Press Week.

Longtime aide to Rev. Jesse Jackson, Shelly Davis, and White House Director of Black Media, Rodericka Applewhaite, were among those in attendance. Applewhaite led publishers to the White House for a special gathering.
The week received widespread support from partners and sponsors, including Reynolds, Pfizer, the Google News Initiative, the American Petroleum Institute, Comcast NBC Universal, Diageo, Nissan, Hyundai, General Motors, T-Mobile, and AARP. Their collective commitment to social responsibility underscored the importance of collaboration in advancing the cause of justice and equity.
Dr. Benjamin Talton, director of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, paid homage to the resilience of Black publishers, while the Rev. Mark Thompson, serving as the master of ceremonies, skillfully guided the proceedings, where guests also heard remarks from AFRO Publisher Dr. Frances Toni Draper and NNPA Chairman Bobby Henry. The keynote address by NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., stirred the audience to its core.
“Our cause is to publish and speak truth to power,” declared Chavis, his words resonating with conviction and urgency. “We will not bow down to the reappearance of the flags of the Confederacy or the flags of Nazism, racism or anti-Semitism.”
Chavis urged Black publishers and citizens to seize the power of the vote as a tool for change. “Our cause and purpose are to work hard and get the vote out in America,” he proclaimed, echoing the sentiments of generations past who fought tirelessly for justice and equality.
“I get emotional when I think about all of our people who swung from trees, and people today dare to talk about swing states,” said Chavis, now in his 11th year as NNPA’s president and CEO. “We’ve been swinging from trees, we’ve been swinging from branches, trying to get equality, freedom and justice, not just for ourselves but for all of God’s people.”
Chavis surprised the gathering by breaking the news that an original NNPA book about the Transatlantic Slave Trade is scheduled for release on June 19, and Select Books, Inc., has provided an exclusive NNPA-Black Press of America imprint.
“Our cause and purpose are to work together for our people’s continued liberation and advancement,” Chavis continued. “I’m concerned about the suffering going on in the Middle East, but I don’t hear a word about suffering in Africa; or about the millions of people who have died in the Congo. We’ve been so conditioned not necessarily to accept our suffering but conditioned to see our suffering as normal. The Black Press must call out the abnormality; we must call out those things that are not right. Our cause and purpose are to work hard and get the vote out in America.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.