Tuesday, March 28, 2017

National News

The oldest Black business industry in America began 190 years ago this month.

On March 16, 1827, the first edition of the “Freedom’s Journal” was published, thrusting African-Americans into the bustling publishing business.

At the time, Blacks in America weren’t even considered citizens, most were slaves and forbidden to read or write.

However, John Russwurm and Reverend Samuel Cornish rose up bravely declaring that, “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.”

Dorothy Leavell, publisher of the historic “Chicago Crusader” newspaper which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2015, said that when Russwurm and Cornish established the Black Press by publishing the “Freedom’s Journal,” they wanted to provide a voice for Black people. The Black Press became one of the only means of communication between Black people.

“Black men and women were vilified in the New York press in the 1800s,” said Leavell. “Some White newspaper publishers sought to defend the dignity, honor and character of Black people, however, Russwurm and Cornish said they, ‘wish to plead our own cause.’”

Without the Black Press, genuine stories of African-Americans would go untold, said Robert W. Bogle, the publisher of the “The Philadelphia Tribune.”

Bogle said that only Black people can tell their stories accurately.

“We are as relevant today as we were when the ‘Freedom’s Journal’ said they wanted to tell our story in our words,” said Bogle.

Denise Rolark-Barnes, the chair of the NNPA and publisher of “The Washington Informer,” said she studied the history of the Black Press and used the 190-year milestone to reflect on the legacy of Black newspapers.

“[What I discovered] help me understand how the Black Press played a vital role in fighting for human rights, abolishing slavery and outlawing lynching,” Rolark Barnes said. “The lesson for us, as publishers, is that we must remain important in our communities and continue to be the voice for victims and spotlight those who have achieved success.”

While mainstream media seems distracted by the current political atmosphere, Rolark Barnes said that it’s vital that the Black Press continue to focus on telling the stories that are relevant to the Black community and recording Black history.

NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., said that March 16, 2017 is a sacred historical day in the long, multidimensional freedom struggle of African people in America and throughout the world, because of the courage of John Brown Russwurm and Samuel Cornish who dared first to publish the “Freedom’s Journal.”

Chavis said that the Black Press in America has been on the frontlines of social change in the United States for 190 years.

“Today, more than ever, the Black Press remains the trusted and audacious voice of Black America,” said Chavis. “Today, the NNPA continues this irrepressible tradition of publishing truth to power. Our freedom fighting publishers are all united as we reaffirm the vital importance and relevance of the Black Press now and into the future.”

Jacqueline Miles, publisher of the half-century-old “Pensacola Press” in Florida said that it’s important to note that the Black Press has become the source of information for jobs, weddings, births, deaths and even entertainment.

“Today, the Black Press still serves the African-American community with news that is vital to them,” said Miles. “We still endeavor to bring about news that will educate and keep our communities aware of what’s going on.”

Further, Miles said, with the term “fake news” emanating regularly from the White House and the new administration, it’s imperative that the Black Press remains vigilant.

“We must be the glue to hold our community together and encourage togetherness, in business and economically, in this new Donald Trump era,” Miles said.

Harry Colbert Jr. recently summarized the importance of the Black Press in a column for “Insight News,” an NNPA member newspaper, where he touted the achievements of many that were noted only through the pages of the Black Press.

Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of “Hidden Figures,” said if not for the archives of the Black Press such as the “Norfolk Journal and Guide” and the “Pittsburgh Courier,” the inspiring story of Black women geniuses at NASA would not have been possible to tell.

If not for the “Florida Sun” newspaper in Orlando, the story of the great training in science and technology taking place at Bethune-Cookman University – one of the nation’s historically Black universities – would go untold and unnoticed, Colbert said.

Colbert continued: “In Baton Rouge, it may have been a citizen’s lens that captured the senseless killing of Alton Sterling at the hands of police, but it is ‘The Drum’ that keeps Sterling’s memory alive and is shining the white-hot spotlight on those responsible for his homicide.”

Hiram Jackson, the publisher of Real Times Media in Michigan said that it’s important to note the significance of Russwurm and Cornish’s words.

“‘We wish to plead our own cause.’ Words that continue to be as inspirational today as the movement they declared on the front pages of ‘Freedom’s Journal,’” Jackson said. “Looking at those words today, I am awe-struck at the vision of the Black Press forefathers and I’m heartened knowing that this statement continues to shine as our collective beacon.

Jackson continued: “The voice of the Black Press is as important today as it has ever been. In today’s political climate, we cannot afford to miss any opportunity to educate, enlighten, and inform our community on the issues that our very lives depend on.”

Journalist, author, activist and Black Press historian A. Peter Bailey said the NNPA has always provided a great service to African-Americans through the pages of its newspapers.

An adjunct professor at the University of District of Columbia, Bailey said it’s also vital that coverage continues to spotlight Black economics.

Bailey said that, according to Black author Lionel Barrow, there are four basic functions of the Black Press: to act as a watchdog for the Black community; to answer attacks on the Black community; to preserve Black culture and to present a different viewpoint.

“I believe the Black Press is doing okay on those, but we could do better by working more closely together and it would really help if the [NNPA] would dedicate a reporter to the United Nations, who could send news to its member papers, and a reporter on Wall Street, because economics are the most important thing that the Black Press can report on for Black people.”

Editors of the “Pasadena Journal” noted that Black-owned and operated media has been filled with the stories of trailblazers, pioneers and forerunners that helped get us to where we are today, with 48 Black elected United States Congressmen and women.

In the aftermath of the Plessy vs. Ferguson Supreme Court ruling in 1896 that said that no Black man has any rights that a White man must honor, there came a flood of Black publications that advocated for Black rights and protested the wrongs done to Blacks. Newspapers like “Freedom’s Journal,” the “Tri-State Defender” and the “Chicago Defender” paved the way for freedom, justice and equality.

Brenda Andrews, the publisher of “The New Journal and Guide,” said that after 190 years, the primary challenge facing the Black Press remains its limited human and financial resources needed to continue to tell news from the perspective of being Black in America.

“It is a mission that, at times, can seem like making bricks without sand; tying shoes without strings; pulling yourself up by your bootstraps without boots,” Andrews said. “But, for me it’s a personally fulfilling mission that has been guided for the past 35 years by my deep spiritual faith.”

Andrews continued: “To keep aiming to thrive, rather than occupying a posture of survival, for me, requires immense faith in the destiny of Black America and a passion to ensure the American story includes the perspective of its Black citizens.”

By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA News Wire Contributor

The Civil War physically ended slavery in the United States in 1865, but it was the passage of the 13th Amendment that legally abolished slavery.

Yet, the practice of enslavement has been ongoing in various forms since 1865.

After emancipation, Black men and women could be arrested for frivolous reasons, jailed and leased  to  farmers to labor on farms or to the state to work on  chain gangs.

Even today, thousands of people around the world have lost  their freedom of mobility,  and  their constitutional and civil rights associated with being free.

A modern version of slavery is called “Human Trafficking” or “Involuntary Servitude,” and according to the  FBI website, it is existing in  the shadows today.

“Here in this country,  people   are being bought, sold, and smuggled like modern-day slaves, often beaten, starved, and forced to work as prostitutes or to take jobs as migrant, domestic, restaurant, or factory workers with little or no pay,” notes the FBI on its website.

It occurs in rural and urban communities in America.

Recently, according to various media accounts, a 20-year-old woman telephoned a Sandy Springs,  Georgia police dispatcher and said  she and a house full of girls were being held against their will.

“It’s a house full of girls and … if I try to leave, he’ll try to kill me and stuff,” she said, prompting the dispatcher to ask, “Wait – did you say you’re in a house full of girls?”
Georgia authorities eventually uncovered an alleged case of human trafficking based in  a $1 million luxury home in the suburbs of Atlanta.

The man who ran the operation,  Kendric Roberts, 33, who is African-American, was charged with additional felonies, Sandy Springs police told NBC News.

The authorities found eight women ranging from ages 19 to 22 at the home.

Roberts faces five counts of false imprisonment, five counts of trafficking persons for labor and two counts for possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. An AK-47 pistol and a Glock .45-caliber handgun were found in the home, police said. Possible federal charges are also pending.

Roberts was renting the residence, and the homeowners weren’t there. The president of the local homeowners association told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the group had received complaints from neighbors about cars constantly “coming in and out.”

On March 18, at the Historic First Baptist Church’s  Murray   Center’s Taste N See Banquet Hall in downtown Norfolk, Paula Fillmore will host a  five-hour  workshop on the subject of Human Trafficking.

According to Fillmore,   the program  is designed to  look at the “Crisis of Human Trafficking” and the critical role of  local government and police, the criminal justice system, civil rights groups, churches and other institutions  in stopping it.
It will have two sessions starting at  9 a.m. with experts who have firsthand knowledge of the issue from their professional insights.
The first  will included a presentation by Mitze Glass, a Licensed Social Worker  and her daughter Brittney J. Gainey on making the “Connection Between Mother and Daughter.”
Tasheeba McLeod will talk about “How to Access the  Resources for Victims and Family Members”.  The issue related to civil rights will be addressed by  Social Worker Marcia Watkins. Rev. Stanford Macke will look at the topic from the “Pulpit’s Point of View.”
During the second half of the program, Norfolk’s Commonwealth Attorney Gregory D. Underwood  and his Assistant Krtistyina Fulton will look at the issue from the perspective of the criminal justice system.
Fillmore is  a  Court Appointed Special Advocate for the City of Portsmouth and an advocate for various issues related to social and criminal justice system, including domestic abuse, gender, elder and victim’s rights.
Fulton is a leader of her Crisis Circle at her home church.  She said she has been involved with the Lott Carey Global Christian Missionary Community, which is supporting anti-human trafficking laws domestically and abroad.
Her interest and advocacy related to human trafficking and domestic violence came after years as a registered foster parent in the Hampton Roads area. She has sheltered over  20 children and her own children.
Her experiences as a foster care parent exposed her to the factors which lead to human trafficking, especially abandoned children and homelessness.
“Human trafficking is today’s slavery 2.0,” said Fillmore.  “All people, Black, White, Hispanic, rich poor…all should be concerned about this new form of slavery and should be supporting  its end.”
“People are being held against their will   and  are sexually and economically exploited,” she continued. “Not only small children, but adult women and men. It is not just prostitution, but people are working for free and abused as domestics or in the nail shops doing manicures, nails and other works.”
Victims of human trafficking in the United States may be lured into it from overseas; however, many victims are born in the states and are just as vulnerable, according to the FBI.
“It is right here in our own back yards,” Fillmore said.
The most vulnerable victims are persons fleeing   domestic abuse, the abandoned, runaways,  and homeless adults and youth, men and women.
Many people are working  as domestics, or as skilled laborers in factories in urban downtown business districts and malls.
Coercion, physical or emotional, are the keys to entrapping victims. But many poor adults and youths are lured by drugs, material goods like clothes, food and cell phones, and promises of security.
“They are told ‘if I can get you off the streets or get you out of  town or to another country, there is something you must do for me’,” said Fillmore. “Then they are threatened and physically intimidated.. beaten. The traffickers promise to kill members of their families and  even them.”
Full indoctrination involves destroying their self-esteem and stripping victims of their personal cultural memory, by traffickers who take full control of the victim’s lives and movements.
Fillmore said one warning sign of people who are victims is they are always accompanied by their traffickers.  There are signs of physical abuse and if they are asked about it, they say they fell  or had an accident.
“If you have seen them a while, and if you ask  them about a well-known street or place in Norfolk….Tidewater Drive or Virginia Beach Boulevard and they don’t know, that is a sign,” said Fillmore.  “They are not  allowed to know where they are located to assure they won’t seek to escape. Trafficking is happening in our own backyard and often it is not easy to recognize.”
Fillmore is supportive of Senate Bill 553, introduced in the last Congress designed to fight the human trafficking internationally and in the states. It has yet to be passed.
“This workshop is a way in which we can   alert the public about this problem which impacts thousands of people,” said Fillmore. “We want to expose it and build support for laws to stop it But first we must educate  people, get them involved to help pass legislation and help those who are modern-day slaves.”
There is a $20 donation for the event.
For more information call (757) 332-4906 or paulafillmore.pf@gmail.com

By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter

(TriceEdneyWire.com)
In 1960, Blacks in Virginia watched as the state changed the laws against trespass to make it a more serious crime, and the penalty was raised from a $100 fine to $1,000.  This action was taken by the then all-White legislature in an attempt to combat the Civil Rights Movement and more severely punish the activists that were engaging in the sit-ins that were taking place in Richmond – the former capital of the Confederacy – and across the nation.

During that time, we read the unhinged rantings of segregationists, such as James J. Kilpatrick, who wrote lies, to stoke fear and hatred in the hearts of whites against their Black neighbors by exaggerating the civil disruption caused by demonstrators – battles where so many people suffered, and many lost their lives.  But much of the truth of this struggle was hidden by the dominant news sources of the day; and battles had to be fought to even bring the truth to light.

Support Black Newspapers in Your Area. Subscribe to the New Journal and Guide today. 

That was a time when the only reliable news about the Civil Rights Movement could be found in Black newspapers.  Even the storied New York Times and the Washington Post wrote about the Civil Rights Movement from the perspective of spectators, a safe distance from the fray.  Having nothing to lose, the journalists at these newspapers, in an attempt at “objectivity,” often gave too much credence to the misrepresentations of their Southern counterparts.

Today, reading the current reporting and editorials of the large, White-dominated, corporate newspapers, I have a sense of déjà vu.  But now it is not just the newspapers of the Southern segregationists that are spewing lies.  The “alt right” haters have gained a prominent voice in the national discourse, and they are on their way toward gaining even greater influence, with Steve Bannon entrenched in the White House.

So now, as much as ever, the voices of the Black newspapers are needed to combat the evil we face.

We are witnessing the normalizing of the Donald Trump presidency, as the language of appeasement creeps, ever so slightly onto the front pages of the dominant newspapers. Sports writers are chiding Black athletes for refusing to go to the White House and provide Trump with a photo-op, so that he can pretend not to be a bigot.  Journalists writing for many major outlets are reporting the terrorizing of undocumented aliens as “routine” law enforcement activity.  And stories about the law suits against Trump and the allegations of sexual assault, including rape, are evaporating from the pages of the corporate press like small puddles in a drought.

Too few Americans are alarmed by these recent developments because they are not in the crosshairs of the bigotry that drives the current administration.  There will be precious few allies to combat this plague of bigotry alongside people of color, progressive women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and undocumented aliens.

But the one resource we have is the battle tested Black Press, founded March 16, 1827.  Black newspapers have always been the sword and shield against injustices aimed at people of color.  This tradition goes back to Frederick Douglass and beyond, including the first Black newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, founded 190 years ago by John B. Russwurm and Rev. Samuel Cornish.

The ammunition that we will need most in the struggles to come will be the accurate reporting of the truth; and it is beginning to look like the major corporate news media is prepared to compromise on that.  So, we must continue to battle to bring accurate facts to light.  And we will be opposed by those powerful people who want to hide the truth in the shadows by controlling the outlets that feed lies to the public in order to keep us passive, and apathetic.

Maintaining Black newspapers as a loud and honest voice that will fight for the rights of people of color is our best and brightest hope in these terrible times to come.

Oscar H. Blayton is a former Marine Corps combat pilot and human rights activist who practices law in Virginia.

By Oscar H. Blayton
Special Commentary

Since the election of Donald Trump in November, there have been almost 1,000 reported hate crimes targeting Muslims, Arabs, African-Americans, Latinos and other people of color, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

This means that the increase has occurred within the past 10 weeks. Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Project Director Heidi Beirich attributed the spike to President Donald Trump’s election. It has created “safe spaces” for racists, she said, in a recent interview in Salon. “Trump is the cause.”

The spike in hate crimes includes threats against Jewish synagogues and community centers as well as the vandalizing of Jewish cemeteries.

Some hate crimes have also caused physical harm and even death: An Indian immigrant was shot and killed by a white man in Kansas who reportedly told him, “Get out of my country.” Most recently a white man shot a Sikh man in Washington State after making a similar comment.”

Scores of news reports show that presidential candidate Trump made multiple racist statements including a plea to African-American voters in the Chicago Tribune on Sept. 28. He said, “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed – what the hell do you have to lose?” He  also accused Judge Gonzalo Curiel of not being able to do his job because he is a “Mexican.” He was actually born in Indiana.

“Trump is a man who navigates the world by racial and ethnic stereotyping,” the Chicago Tribune noted. “He speaks of “the” Blacks and “the” Hispanics (as) a racial or ethnic group as standing apart from “us.”

The Chicago Tribune added, “The sad and disturbing thing is not so much that there still are people like Donald Trump (Archie Bunker with money), but that he so easily cultivated racial bias and built himself a following through stunts such as the birtherism lie and vicious anti-Hispanic rhetoric that paints millions of immigrants as criminals.”

Perhaps the most famous example of Trump’s influence surfaced in February 2016. High school students at  a basketball game in Indiana produced signs and images of then presidential candidate Donald Trump and began to chant ‘Build that wall,’ at the Bishop Noll team and fans, who are heavily Hispanic,” according to a statement that was released by the dioceses that oversees both schools.  In another instance, a Trump supporter shouted at protestors in Arizona, “Go f-king make my tortilla motherf-ker and build that f-king wall for me.”

The New Republic noted on July 18, 2016, “That is Trump’s doing. Trump has energized these groups by igniting their hate and making the use of bigoted speech more normalized, if not more acceptable.”

Pointing to records that show hate crimes have spiked since Trump took office, Beirich, of the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a recent interview with Salon, “I do not think there’s any question that Trump is the cause. The first day of his campaign, he bashed immigrants and said Mexicans are rapists. The entire campaign included xenophobic remarks, anti-immigrant remarks, anti-Muslim remarks, racist remarks, trading in anti-Semitic imagery and anti-women comments. Let’s not forget that during the campaign there were hate crimes committed — very severe ones in Trump’s name. For example, there was an immigrant in Boston who was beaten by two Trump supporters.”

At this point, Beirich pointed to three festering, deep, underlying issues that have launched more hate crimes First, members of the Ku Klux Klan began shifting from robes to suits and ties in the late 1970s and early 80s, Beirich explained. Second, white supremacists began recruiting on the Internet. Third, this sector began using the Internet to organize across international boundaries.

“White supremacists have gone through a couple of rebrandings,” Beirich explained. “The first being to white nationalism.”

She added, “But nobody at least since around the turn of the millennium has done what Trump did, which was to just go out and make flat-out racist statements, as well as send out “white genocide” tweets and anti-Semitic tweets. That is unheard of and shocking.”

This means the recent surge in hate crimes has deep roots including the white supremacist backlash that was brewing against President Barack Obama, the census report that said white folks would become a minority in the 2040s, and the belief that white attitudes and beliefs should dominate worldwide.

“There are these tipping points where white people get very, very upset,” Beirich said. “When a neighborhood is less than 5 percent minority, they are fine. It gets up to 15, and there’s, like, literally racial panic.”

Pointing to how the nation had the largest Klan ever in the late 1910s and early 1920s because  the US had high levels of foreign born, she said, “So I think we have to think about demographics here because the country is going through a major demographic shift. In 1924 the United States passed an immigration act that restricted immigration to Nordics.”

But white supremacists “really don’t care much about country,” she explained. “They care about historic European populations, so their ideas about white ethno-states transcend borders.”
According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, a white supremacist is “a person who believes that the white race is better than all other races and should have control over all other races.”

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor

BOSTON, MA
Nearly three decades after Barack Obama made history and became president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review, Susan Estrich, was recently elected to the post and made history.

Black and female, ImeIme (pronounced “Ah-MAY-may”) Umana, 24, is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants. She was elected on Jan. 29 by the review’s 92 student editors as the president of its 131st volume, according to news reports.But she is not the first female, Hispanic, Asian American,  openly gay, or African-American to hold the post.

“It still feels like magic that I’m here,” Umana said. Fellow students said it was not magic at all but her sharp legal mind, intense work ethic, leadership ability and generosity of spirit catapulted her to the top.

She was elected president of the law review in an intense 12-hour period of deliberations that stretched over two days. The application process included a rigorous evaluation of each candidate’s portfolio of work and responses to a written questionnaire, a candidate forum and a writing exercise.

She was one of 12 candidates for president, including eight minority students and eight women.

“I think our team saw in her what so many people have seen in her for so long – that she’s a brilliant person, an unbelievably dedicated worker and an exceptionally caring leader,” said Michael L. Zuckerman, a third-year law student and the review’s previous president.

Umana said she does not aspire to work for a well-heeled law firm after she graduates, thanks to her insightful internship in the public defender’s office in the Bronx this summer. Instead, she hopes to work as a public defender and will work this summer with the public defender in Washington.

Black women who have died after encounters with law enforcement are also a priority, she said. “I’m constantly reminded of people like Natasha McKenna and Tanisha Anderson and Sandra Bland, whose relationships with the law were just simply tragic.”

She added, “A lot of the clients I worked with that summer and since have looked a lot like me. They are disproportionately represented on the unfortunate end of the legal system, so it struck a little closer to home.”
The Harvard Law Review is often the most-cited journal of its kind and has the largest circulation of any such publication in the world. The presidency is considered a ticket to virtually any legal realm. Half of the current Supreme Court justices served on the Harvard Law Review, though none as its president.

Rev. Samuel Cornish launched the first newspaper for people of color in 1827; so, would he scroll through today’s newspaper websites and smile, like the proud parent who sees traces of himself in his adult child?

The problem is Cornish died in 1858 at age 63 in Brooklyn, N.Y., about three decades after he launched the Freedom’s Journal in Brooklyn in 1827 with his partner John Brown Russwurm. This was about 163 years before scientists launched the World Wide Web in 1990. The point is like a seasoned parent urges a grown struggling child to prevail over adversity, would Cornish scroll through multiple websites that are operated by the Black Press, which is celebrating its 190th birthday this year? In other words, would he tell the enduring industry to hang in there? Who knows?

Today the entire newspaper industry is as challenging as it was when Cornish stepped down as senior editor in less than a year, accepted a job as educator, but returned two years later because the newspaper had declined and shifted away from its original mission. “We wish to plead our own cause,” Cornish, a free man, a minister and an abolitionist said in a trademark quote. “Too long have others spoken for us.”

This means the Black Press, which Cornish co-founded, is celebrating its 190th anniversary, at a time when many newspapers nationwide are shuttering their doors.

According to the Pew Research Center, newspaper circulation, print and digital combined, fell another 7 percent in 2015, the greatest decline since 2010.

Meanwhile, the newspaper industry has cut 10 percent of its staff in the past two decades (which adds up to about 20,000 positions). And 65 percent of all digital ad revenues are going to social media companies such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Twitter. Weekday circulation fell 7 percent and Sunday circulation fell 4 percent, both showing their greatest declines since 2010.

“The biggest challenge I see today to the Black Press is helping current and future generations of Blacks value our mission and accept the torch of leadership,” said Andrews, who has risen through the ranks during her 35-year tenure, and serves as the CEO and president of the New Journal and Guide, which is considered one of the nation’s most researched Black newspapers.

Wedged next to landmark publications like The Atlanta World, a daily newspaper that was launched in Atlanta in 1928 by the Scott Family, and The Baltimore Afro American, a weekly which the Murphy Family launched in 1892, the New Journal and Guide was launched as a newsletter in Norfolk in 1900 by the Supreme Lodge Knights of Gideon, a Black fraternal order.
It became a full fledged newspaper in after the newsletter was purchased in 1907 by its editor P.B. Young, Sr., who became the driving force in the paper’s history until his death in 1963.

Despite the challenges that the newspaper industry is facing nationwide, in other words, the New Journal and Guide, a 117-year-old weekly headquartered in Norfolk, still embraces Cornish’s vision. Specifically, Cornish said his aim was to publish the news “without white bias against … African-American news. Too long have the public been deceived by misrepresentations, in things that concern us dearly.”

Andrews listened and nodded her head in agreement, “It is a mission that, at times, can seem like making bricks without sand; tying shoes without strings; pulling yourself up by your bootstraps without boots,” she said. “Black newspapers tend to be underfunded, understaffed, and undervalued, often by the very people the press exists to support.”

She added, “But for me, it is a personally fulfilling mission that has been guided for the past 35 years by deep spiritual faith in God.”

Zeroing in on several relentless challenges that the Black Press still faces, Andrews said, “Advertising and circulation are the two-main means that all media rely upon to exist. All Black media have never received even a minute share of available advertising dollars from Black or white businesses, from local, or state or federal governments, and especially, from corporate America which spends billions to promote its products and services to Black citizens, but not through the media that represent this market.”

She added, “The challenges are ongoing and have not changed over the years.”

Still, the newspaper that Cornish and Russwurm launched 190 years ago, has steadily birthed more newspapers for readers of color. According to the 1999 documentary by Stanley Nelson, The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords, “Between 1827 and 1861, when the Civil War began, some two-dozen Black-owned and operated newspapers were founded in Northern cities.”

Whether it was early newspapers such as The North Star that Frederick Douglass launched in 1847 or the wildly successful Chicago Defender, which Robert Abbot laid out on his landlord’s kitchen table in 1905, both newspapers found receptive audiences.

Douglass’ newspaper The North Star was four pages long and sold by subscription at the cost of $2 per year to more than 4,000 readers in the United States, Europe, and the West Indies.  Abbot’s newspaper, meanwhile, thrived but new laws banned Black newspapers from being delivered to readers in the South. Abbot solved the problem by recruiting Pullman porters, who tossed bundles of newspapers from trains into waiting arms in the South.

This means that while the Black Press is busy arranging 190 candles on its birthday cake, Andrews is heading a 117-year-old newspaper that has witnessed, but also survived the good, bad, and ugly.

Once the largest employer of Blacks in the South, the New Journal and Guide newspaper has weathered two World Wars; severe economic storms, including the Great Depression of the late 20s through and beyond the devastating 2008 recession; and a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the late 80s. It has published despite sharp overall industry declines in circulation nationwide. Editor & Publisher’s Data Book, for example, listed 126 fewer daily papers in 2014 than in 2004.

Andrews said, “Black newspapers have been challenged to defy the odds of survival despite being short on capital and human resources. To keep aiming for a position of thriving, for me, requires immense faith in the destiny of Black America and a passion to ensure the American Story includes the perspective of its Black Citizens.”

But the Black Press’ challenges have not overshadowed its successes. For example, Andrews was among a group of National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) members who met with President Barack Obama in the White House during his inaugural years. The newspaper she heads has received numerous awards. It holds membership on several local boards. It co-sponsors many local events, and continues to survive and thrive because it unflinchingly eyes its past and future. In June 2018, the New Journal and Guide will host the summer NNPA convention in Norfolk at the city’s new Main Hotel.

Andrews said, “The Black Press began and continues as an advocacy press, founded as an advocate for justice, equality and fairness in the treatment of people of color as full American citizens.”

Andrews continued, “This industry, the oldest Black business industry in America, began 190 years ago, in 1827 with Freedom’s Journal. Then, Blacks in America were not citizens; most were legally enslaved and forbidden by law to read or write. The first publishers – John Russwurm and Rev. Samuel Cornish wrote in the first edition of Freedom’s Journal on March 16, 1827 that “others have spoken too long for us; now we wish to speak for ourselves.”

Shifting from the past to the future, Andrews said, “Black newspapers must now reach today’s generation of young journalists, marketing firms, business leaders, and readers who do not remember, identify with, nor been informed on conditions spurred by the overt segregation and racial discrimination that fostered the growth of the Black Press.

“For as long as there is a racial divide in America that can be identified by stark disparities in areas such as health, education, housing, employment, wealth, etc., there will be a need for the Black Press to highlight and tell those stories from the perspective of being Black in America.”

Andrews added, “The biggest challenge then which is being met by the New Journal and Guide and many other Black newspapers becomes expanding our historic print media dominance to incorporate the changing ways people are gathering information and news through television programming, the internet, social media and other technologies beyond print.”

Obviously Cornish was not standing nearby and offering this offspring an appreciative pat on the shoulder. But, the newspaper that Andrews heads continues to mirror the one that Cornish launched 190 years ago, because well, racism is still complicated. But the Black Press has never shied away from controversial and complicated issues.

“Black newspapers (still) seek to represent and serve,” Andrews explained, listing some of the Black Press’ current goals. “It aims to attract and engage a younger audience, sponsor community forums that will educate audiences about the issues we address weekly,” she said.

“It aims to work with students at all educational levels to increase its audience share. It aims to lend support to uplifting community development programs and organizations, and invest in the people our newspapers serve.”

If Cornish were still around, well, he’d probably smile.

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor

Now that the 2017 Virginia General Assembly Session is over, lawmakers are assessing the level of success or failure in creating laws impacting the lives of their constituents.

Members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) sponsored a series of bills and  devoted their support to  legislation sponsored by the Democratic Caucus, in general, and  Republicans, when it benefitted their constituents.

Del. Roslyn Tyler  (Dist. 75) experienced her first session as chair of the  VLBC and she gives the Democrats and the Caucus a B-plus for the quantity and quality of the legislation the group  supported which passed this session.

The grade reflects the VLBC and the Democrats’ ability to defeat and beat back some of the most conservative legislation sponsored by GOP members.

Democratic lawmakers were aided in beating back right-wing and regressive legislation  by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe’s use of his veto pen during and after the recent session.

Tyler said the passage of the state’s multi-billion dollar operating budget was the highlight of the legislative session especially with $34 million extra dollars for education which included the 2 percent raise for state teachers.

Tyler said the 5-5-5  initiative would give extra funding to mostly small rural school districts that have lost five percent of their student enrollment  and funding over the past five years.

School divisions of Franklin, Surry and Brunswick County benefitted from this  piece of legislation.

To  balance the budget, due to project revenue shortfalls, the Governor had proposed a 5 percent cut in the funding for state colleges and universities.

A member of the Black caucus was among the House and Senate conferees  and was able  to deter cuts of operating budgets of  Norfolk State and Virginia State Universities, the two HBCUs supported by the state.

A bill sponsored by Delegate Marcia S. Price of Newport News, was passed to do a study on the increasing level  of student debt, which has attributed to the shrinking of poor and minority students enrolling in state institutions.

Tyler said the governor will veto a bill Conservative Republicans pushed through on school choice.   It would allow parents to create tuition saving accounts to pay for tuitions to enroll their children in private and church-run schools.

The Chairman said the money for these accounts would be siphoned from the coffers  of public schools divisions, already enduring fiscal stress in recent years.

Tyler said that Virginia  leads the nation in the number of students suspended from  its public schools. She said the majority of the students are poor and African-Americans.

She said a bill was killed which would limit the number of days to 10 that a child can be suspended from the state classrooms.

“We wanted to set up some guidelines to stop the school to prison pipeline,” said Tyler. “School divisions thought we were seeking to take away their authority to suspend students from them. The numbers of suspensions is high not only for high schools, but for Kindergarten to third graders too.”

She said supporters of the measure hope to reintroduce the bill next session.

Also individuals can now set up an installment plans to pay their fines  to avoid revocation of their driver’s  license. Tyler said that many people  jeopardize their employment when they are unable to pay their fines when their driver’s licenses are revoked and have no reliable means of transportation if public transport is not available.

Democratic State Delegate  Delores L. McQuinn of Richmond sponsored a bill which passed and will provide $34,875 to restore and up keep historic African-American cemeteries around  the state.

The state already spends thousands of dollars to maintain confederate cemeteries around  the state.

Mae Breckenridge-Haywood, the Chairperson of the Portsmouth African-American Historical Society which has   worked to preserve and up keep several old Black graveyards, applauds the bill.

“This is a good start,” said Breckenridge. “It’s a small amount of money. And I am hoping we can access some of it to help with our efforts. I am hoping we can secure some funding for what we are doing. We are looking into it.”

By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter

ATLANTA, GA
On March 1, Morehouse College President John Wilson issued an official statement on the university’s website questioning the intent and purpose of the recent visit of HBCU presidents to the Oval Office at the invitation of President Donald Trump.

“Many had high hopes about this meeting,” Wilson wrote.  “There was much advance chatter about it being ‘historic,’ and there were many signals from key Trump administration officials that they would surprise HBCUs with favorable treatment.”

Wilson’s letter continued “…since President Trump pledged to ‘do more for HBCUs than any other president has done before,’ we could have reasonably expected him to get started by announcing at least an additional $500 million to HBCUs…this year!”

Wilson concluded, “It is not possible to measure the impact of this gesture anytime soon, if ever.”  

Five days later, an update on March 6 on the Morehouse website by Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Morehouse College Robert C. Davidson, Jr., announced the transition of leadership from Wilson to William “Bill” Taggart, Chief Operating Officer, Morehouse College.

“I, along with the entire Board of Trustees, have the utmost confidence in Bill as he steps into his new role and leads Morehouse in the coming months,” Davidson wrote to the Morehouse community.

The Morehouse Board had said earlier that Wilson’s contract would not be renewed this year; however, its announcement of Taggart three months earlier than Wilson’s scheduled departure gives speculation that Wilson is being ousted for his outspokenness on the White House visit.

Days after returning from the Oval Office visit, Wilson appeared on several broadcast television and radio programs in which he reacted to the visit.

TriceEdneyWire.com/Global Information Network
A revised travel ban by the Trump administration is already in trouble with a leading aid agency, with the travel industry, and with the Nigerian government which has urged its citizens to postpone making trips to the U.S. without “compelling or essential reasons.”

The new travel ban, which still targets majority-Muslim countries, slightly modifies an earlier order that sparked chaos at airports across the country as travelers – even those with green cards – were denied entry by local officers.

One of the harsher critics of the new ban, the head of the NY-based International Rescue Committee, labeled it an “historic assault on refugee resettlement to the United States, and a really catastrophic cut at a time there are more refugees around the world than ever before.”

“There is no national security justification for this ‘catastrophic’ cut in refugee admissions,” declared David Miliband, adding that the ban singles out „the most vulnerable, most vetted population that is entering the United States.“

The IRC provides humanitarian aid in five African countries, six Middle Eastern countries, six Asian countries, three European countries, and 22 cities in the U.S.

Trump’s latest order suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, though refugees already formally scheduled for travel by the State Department will be allowed entry. When the suspension is lifted, the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. will be capped at 50,000 for fiscal year 2017.

But the new and higher bars to entry to the U.S. have the tourism industry biting its nails. Travel analytics firm ForwardKeys tallied the fall-off in major tourism-dependent U.S. cities as 6.5 percent in the eight days after President Donald Trump’s initial travel ban was announced on Jan. 27th.

In New York City, analysts foresee some 300,000 fewer visitors from abroad this year than in 2016, a 2.1 percent dip. It’s the first time for such a fall-off since 2008, says NYC & Company, New York’s tourism arm.

Even some African countries are sounding the alarm. In Nigeria, for example, special presidential adviser Abike Dabiri-Erewa, urged Nigerians to consider postponing visits to the U.S.

“In the last few weeks, the office has received a few cases of Nigerians with valid multiple-entry U.S. visas being denied entry and sent back to Nigeria,” she said. “In such cases, affected persons were sent back immediately on the next available flight and their visas were cancelled.”

Planned trips should be delayed, she advised, barring compelling or essential reasons, until there is clarity on the new immigration policy from Washington.

The latest action by the Trump administration could spell trouble for the 2.1 million African immigrants living in the U.S., 327,000 of whom were born in Nigeria, according to the Pew Research Center, published in February.

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the NAACP

(TriceEdneyWire.com) 

The NAACP board of directors has elected Leon W. Russell as the Chairman Board of Directors at its annual board meeting on February 18 in New York. Russell replaces Roslyn M. Brock, who decided to step down as chairman after seven years of leadership.

“Leon W. Russell is a stalwart NAACP civil and human rights leader who is prepared to lead the NAACP into the future,” said Brock. Mr. Russell has been the chief architect in the development of the NAACP’s strategic plan and champion of its organizational policy and resolutions process. His commitment to the Association’s mission of protecting civil rights for all Americans remains unquestioned,” she added.

Chairman Brock who succeeded the late Chairman Emeritus H. Julian Bond in 2010 has been a powerful advocate for social justice and the reintegration of young people into key aspects of the organizational planning and policy objectives.

In honoring Ms. Brock’s leadership and 32-year volunteer service to the NAACP, she was elected Chairman Emeritus by the Board and presented with an NAACP Image Award.

Russell most-recently served as vice chair of the board and has been a board member for over 27 years. He served as President of the Florida State Conference of Branches of the NAACP from 1996-2000, after serving for 15 years as the first vice president. He is the current Mississippi State NAACP president.

“I am indebted to the work and leadership of Chairman Emeritus Brock and President Brooks for inheriting a powerful organization that after 108 years, still remains the most relevant and influential civil rights organization in our nation. I assure you that I will keep watered the seeds of activism and social justice that the NAACP’s legacy spouts from,” he said.

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