Monday, May 22, 2017

National News

JACKSONVILLE, FL
Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown was recently found guilty in Jacksonville of taking money from a charity that allegedly gave scholarships to poor students.

Brown, 70, was convicted of 18 of the 22 charges against her, including lying on her taxes and her congressional financial disclosure forms. Brown, a Democrat who represented the Florida district that included Jacksonville since 1993, had pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, including fraud. She lost re-election last fall after her indictment.

According to news reports, when the judge read each verdict she showed no visible reaction.

Brown’s former chief of staff, Elias “Ronnie” Simmons, and the charity’s president pleaded guilty after their federal indictments for misusing the charity’s funds, and testified against Brown.

Federal prosecutors said Brown and her associates used a charity called One Door for Education to bring in more than $800,000 between 2012 and 2016. Brown’s indictment said the Virginia-based One Door only gave out one scholarship for $1,200 to an unidentified person in Florida.

Simmons said Brown ordered him to take cash and checks from One Door’s account. On dozens of occasions, Simmons said he was told to take out of One Door’s account the maximum $800 from an ATM near his house and deposit hundreds of it in Brown’s personal account. Sometimes he kept some for himself.

Brown testified in her own defense, saying she was left in the dark about the goings-on with One Door’s money, and blamed the theft on Simmons.

Brown said she left those details to Simmons and other hired staffers, and said she should have paid more attention to her personal and professional finances.

HEATHROW, FL
Valerie Daniels-Carter was elected as the first African-American woman to chair the American Automobile Association during the company’s recent annual meeting in Boston.

Daniels-Carter is co-founder, president and CEO of V&J Holding Companies Inc., the nation’s largest female-owned franchise organization, based in Milwaukee. Starting her franchise empire in 1982 with one Burger King restaurant, she now has a 137-until multi brand company that includes franchises such as Soft Pretzels, Pizza Hut, and Nino.

In a recent interview, Daniels Carter described her vision for AAA.

What is the significance of your election as the first African-American female chair? 

I represent an opportunity to support women in leadership. The retail buying power of women is in excess of 60 to 70 percent. I have been involved with AAA for more than 20 years and (AAA) did the right thing at the right time. We have had an African-American chair before. I am the first African-American female.

What are your top priorities this year? 

My top priority is to ensure that AAA remains the undisputed leader as it relates to customer superiority and roadside assistance. We are always looking for opportunities in other business lines with travel and financial services.

How is AAA doing with membership growth? 

My other priority is to grow the brand. We are at 57 million members. We want to be 60 million members by 2020. We need programs and strategies … to get to those members in place.
What programs is AAA focusing on to generate additional members?

We envision AAA being the leader in roadside services, mobility, discounts and rewards, and in collaboration with other organizations that we partner with. We also are moving in mobile technology areas.

For example, AAA has rolled out a digital auto loan application and a mobile app for discounts to Dunham’s Sports, Hard Rock Café or Papa Johns.

She has been active with AAA for 22 years and served on multiple board committees, including Dearborn-based AAA Michigan – The Auto Club Group, the second-largest AAA club in North America. She has played a leading role in raising the association’s collective preparedness in cybersecurity.

(TriceEdneyWire.com)
Though he insists that he’s “really not leaving,” Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, the nationally renown president of the State Conference of the North Carolina NAACP, says he will be “transitioning” from the state presidency next month to join a national “poor people’s” campaign to address issues of poverty and social inequality.

“I’m not going to run for another term [as president] of the North Carolina NAACP, and I will step down in June,” the civil rights leader said recently during a teleconference.
Maintaining that the NC NAACP is “… strong in our legal victories; strong in our organizational structure; strong financially and strong in the clarity of agenda …,” the civil rights leader expressed confidence that the next state president, coming from among the organization’s four vice presidents, will be up to the task.

Barber has been president of the North Carolina chapter, the largest in the South, since 2005. He led the once troubled conference into national prominence with weekly Moral Monday demonstrations at the North Carolina state legislature since 2013, and challenging the state on controversial cases of alleged racial injustice.

The key to Barber’s success was his ability to lead diverse racial and religious coalitions to demand change on issues ranging from equal education to affordable health care. Subsequently the Christian leader was invited to twenty-three states last year to do “moral revival” training, sparking Moral Monday demonstrations as far away as Chicago.

In recent years, Rev. Barber has been recognized as a key voice in the progressive movement nationally, garnering him numerous appearances on MSNBC and CNN, and stories in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal; an address during the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia; and the keynote sermon at Riverside Church in Harlem last month commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s April 4, 1967 “Beyond Vietnam” address.

His numerous appearances across the country gradually fueled speculation that Rev. Barber was steadily ascending to national leadership. He has confirmed that he will be “following a deep calling” and “transitioning to an expansion of the work around the country.”

“We found that there is a deep hunger for a shift in our moral narrative in the nation, and I’ve been asked by a number of moral leaders and impacted persons and advocates to join with them in helping to bring some leadership, energy and unity to helping to build the Poor People’s campaign, and a national call for a moral revival.”

Rev. Barber said the campaign will focus on 25 states and the District of Columbia, with at least half of them in South, including North Carolina, culminating with the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign.

“In the times in which we live, our country still needs to address the issues of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and militarism, and our national morality,” Rev. Barber said. “We need a moral narrative.”

Though Barber is leaving the North Carolina NAACP presidency, he is not leaving the civil rights organization. He says he’ll still be a member of the state conference, and still sit on the national NAACP board.

The Christian pastor will not be leaving his Goldsboro church either, Greenleaf Christian Church, saying that doing so keeps him in close touch with the needs of the people.

He will join the national effort under the banner of his own social justice group known as “Repairers of the Breach,” which, in partnership with the Kairos Center for Religion, Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and other social justice and theologian activists, will sponsor “The Souls of Poor Folk: Auditing America 50 years after the Poor People’s Campaign Challenged Racism, Militarism, Poverty and Our National Morality” leading up to the 50th anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign.

“In 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others knew the nation needed a Poor People’s Campaign to challenge extremism,” said Rev. Barber. “Today, we recognize that in order to challenge the extremist policies that are being proposed at the highest levels of government, which hurt the most vulnerable, we need a Moral Revival Poor People’s Campaign. We must advance a moral movement in America, that can move beyond the limited language of left versus right politics.”

By Cash Michaels
Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Wilmington Journal

In Hampton Roads, some mothers will celebrate by attending the annual Mother’s Day Dinner at Taste and See, which is operated by the historic First Baptist Church-Bute Street. “We expect about 150 people,” said Elder Vanessa Turner, acting sales and marketing manager. “Last year, people told us the food was outstanding and the restaurant was tastefully decorated. A lot of sons bring their mothers. We take great care with everyone’s mother.”
Elsewhere, busy mothers nationwide will pause and celebrate the holiday. It was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. Now, take a peek at some of the nation’s busiest mothers.

Beyonce and Blue Ivy – In March, the daughter briefly stole the spotlight from her famous mother when she wore a Gucci dress that retails for $2,100 to the premiere of “Beauty and The Beast.” The 5-year-old posed beside her mother who wore a $26,000 Gucci dress, according to news report.
Beyonce, 35, grew up in Houston and began her career as lead vocalist of the R&B group Destiny’s Child. She later established a solo career. She has earned five Grammy Awards and sold over 100 million records. Forbes listed her as the most powerful female entertainer in 2015.

Michelle Obama – The former First Lady, lawyer, and writer will celebrate Mother’s Day with her husband, Barack, and their two daughters, Malia and Sasha
Obama, age 53, is still active. On May 8, she continued her support of education since leaving the White House in January by participating in her fourth College Signing Day event in New York City. The event celebrates high school seniors who plan to attend college. “Get out there and use that education to give back to your family, your community and your country,” she said in a speech to graduates on “Good Morning America.”
On July 25, she will help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado by delivering a speech at the Pepsi Center. The Women’s Foundation works to propel women and girls from promise to prosperity through research, public policy advocacy and awarding grants.

Diana Ross – The famous singer will celebrate Mother’s Day with her five children and four grandchildren. 
Ross, 73, has Virginia roots. Her grandfather, John E. Ross was born in Gloucester County, Va. Ross began singing with friends as a teen in Detroit, and eventually formed the groundbreaking 1960s trio the Supremes. The 12-time Grammy nominee has been married twice. Most recently, Ross received the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Tracee Ellis Ross described her famous mother in an interview in The New York Times, “Well, my mom was very glamorous, but that was her work world. . . My mom is also really real, and I grew up with a mother who had babies crawling on her head and spitting up on her when she was wearing gorgeous, expensive things, and it was never an issue.”

Maxine Waters – The Congresswoman will celebrate Mother’s Day with her daughter, Karen Waters, her son, Edward Waters, and her two grandchildren.
Waters, age 78, has been a member of Congress since 1991. Raised by a single mother, she was born the fifth of 13 children in Kinloch, Missouri. She began working as a bus girl in a segregated restaurant when she was 13. She later worked in a factory.
Most recently, Waters a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, made headlines after she was interviewed by Fox host Bill O’Reilly. In a trademark quote, Waters once said, “This is a tough game. You can’t be intimidated by anybody. . .I’ve been in this struggle for many years now. We have to fight every day that we get up for every little thing we get. And so I keep struggling.”

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor

A day after Taylor Dumpson, who is an African-American woman, was elected to be student body president at American University, nooses and bananas (some with the words “AKA Free” on them) were found hanging in various places on the American University campus.

Dumpson is a member of the historically Black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA). On May 4th, as lawmakers were debating a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and protesters were chanting on Capitol Hill nearby, Dumpson received support from several sectors.

Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, the International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority, flew to Washington, D.C., to stand in support of the American University student. Other members of the AKA sorority stood alongside members of Congress to support Dumpson and to display a sense of strength and solidarity in the face of racism.

Reverend Barbara Skinner opened the Capitol Hill press conference about the suspected hate crime on American University’s campus with a prayer.

“We aren’t in a post-racial society,” Dumpson said. “I think the way to move towards a better society, and a more inclusive society, is to really focus on and appreciate the differences among us, because what makes us different is very important.”

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) said that the attack has shaken the community to its core and vowed that, “we’re not going to be stopped.”

Later, in a written statement, Wilson said that no matter how high we go – whether it’s being elected the nation’s first Black president or AU’s first African-American student government president – some people just can’t help themselves from going low.

“Unfortunately, this is not even the first time in the past year that such a controversy has occurred on AU’s campus,” said Wilson. “Without the appropriate action, it will not be the last. Sadder still, American University is not the only campus on which white students are expressing their prejudices against students of color.”

Members called for a federal civil rights investigation of the racism displayed at American University. Students of all backgrounds marched in protest of the incident on May 3. In a statement last week, outgoing American University President Neil Kerwin said, “I regret this happened, apologize to everyone offended, and state emphatically that this incident does not reflect what American University truly is.”

Members of Congress who attended the press conference included Reps. Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who hosted the event

Lauren Victoria Burke is a speaker, writer and political analyst. She appears on “NewsOne Now” with Roland Martin every Monday. Lauren is also a frequent contributor to the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com. Connect with Lauren by email at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter at @LVBurke.

Special to the Guide

Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams of the  U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps  and a Hampton University graduate,  has been appointed acting Surgeon General of the United States by President Donald J. Trump.

She is first nurse to be appointed to  the post and replaced  Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, who was Surgeon General under former President Barack H. Obama.

The U.S. Surgeon General directs the  operations of the USPHS Commissioned Corps and communicates scientific information to advance the health of the nation. Previously, she was the deputy surgeon general. She has served as the chief nurse officer of the USPHS since November 2013.

Trent-Adams received a bachelor of science in nursing from Hampton University, a master of science in nursing and health policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and a doctorate from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. After attending college on an ROTC scholarship, she served as an officer in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps for five years, on the oncology unit of Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

She has held  various positions in HHS, working to improve access to care for poor and under-served communities.

Prior to joining the Office of the Surgeon General, Trent-Adams was the deputy associate administrator for the HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB), Health Resources and Services Administration(HRSA). She assisted in managing the $2.3 billion Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 (Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program) for uninsured people living with HIV disease as well as training for health care professionals.

Trent-Adams began her career in the Commissioned Corps of the USPHS in 1992  She has published numerous articles and presented to organizations and professional groups. Prior to joining the USPHS, Trent-Adams was a nurse officer in the U.S. Army. She also served as a research nurse at the University of Maryland.

Trent-Adams completed two internships in the U.S. Senate where she focused on the prospective payment system for skilled nursing facilities and scope of practice for nurses and psychologists.

She has served as guest lecturer at the University of Maryland and Hampton University. Her clinical practice was in trauma, oncology, community health, and infectious disease.
She serves as chair of the Federal Public Health Nurse Leadership Council, and the Federal Nursing Service Council.

TOPEKA, KANSAS
In Kansas on May 2, members of the Topeka City Council may name a bridge after Nick Chiles, the founder and editor of the Topeka Plaindealer, an African-American newspaper published from 1899-1958.

According to The Topeka Capital-Journal, Chiles’ name could grace a bridge located at S.E. 10th Street. The bridge runs over the Shunganunga Creek on S.E. 10th, just west of S.E. Branner Trafficway. The city is currently finishing up a project to replace the bridge.

On April 18, council members reviewed a preliminary proposal which included a letter supporting the move from Deborah Dandridge, field archivist/curator of African-American Experience Collections for the University of Kansas Libraries. A month earlier, Delbert Wilburn, a local resident submitted an application to name the bridge after Chiles on March 16.

The nomination said Chiles, who lived in Topeka until his death in 1929, at various times owned the newspaper, a hotel, a restaurant and a pool hall.

The move’s only budgetary impact would involve providing two signs and purchasing mounting hardware, at a total cost of less than $500, according to a document in the proposal. Funds from the city’s traffic operations budget would be used to finance the project.

Chiles was born in 1867 in South Carolina and founded the newspaper in 1899, Dandridge wrote in the letter supporting Chiles’ nomination.

“Due to his fervent push for racial uplift through self-help activities and desire to have Kansas serve as a beacon for freedom and equality for all peoples, Mr. Chiles’s business acumen enabled the Plaindealer to enjoy the largest circulation of any African-American newspaper west of the Mississippi,” Dandridge wrote.

Records show that Chiles bought the paper from Joseph Bass of Jefferson City, Mo., in 1898, and changed the newspaper’s name to The Topeka Plaindealer.

Blacks make up about 11 percent of Topeka’s total population (127,473), according to census records.

In 1954, the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was passed by the United States Supreme Court. The ruling outlawed segregated public schools.

(TriceEdneyWire.com)
National Action Network (NAN), led by civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton, will convene its annual national convention from April 26-29, describing it as “the first major gathering of African-Americans in the Donald Trump era in his hometown of New York.”

The convention, being held ‘at Critical Juncture in Civil Rights’ will feature high profile plenary sessions and panel discussions around crucial issues, such as voting rights, criminal justice reform, immigration, health care, education, corporate responsibility, economic equity and more, according to a release.

Among the highlights:
• On the first day of the convention – Wednesday, April 26 – Rev. Sharpton and NAN leadership will kick-off the events with a ribbon cutting ceremony with elected officials and community activists. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will give the convention’s opening address, focusing on gerrymandering and voting rights.  Tom Perez, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former U.S. Secretary of Labor, will give the first plenary speech.

• Other opening day highlights include a panel on the 2016 election and organizing with pollster Cornell Becher, NOW President Terry O’Neill, Host of MSNBC’s AM Joy, Joy-Ann Reid, and others.

• Civil Rights Attorney Benjamin Crump will moderate a panel discussion about accountability in policing with Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin; Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner; Judy Scott, the mother of Walter Scott; Valerie Bell, the mother of Sean Bell; and Kadiatou Diallo, the mother of Amadou Diallo.

• First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks during a panel discussion on mental health in the Black community.

• Opening day will close out with the annual Keepers of the Dream Awards, which be hosted by Actor Samuel L. Jackson and will honor Harry Belafonte, Rev. Dr. William Barber, II, the pastor who organized Moral Mondays, Terry O’Neill the President of the National Organization of Women (NOW), and other national leaders. The awards, given each year in April to mark the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, honor those who have continued to advocate the principles for which Dr. King gave his life. Former President Barack Obama delivered the keynote remarks at the Keepers of the Dream Awards in 2011.

• On the second day – Thursday, April 27 – National Action Network will convene high profile community leaders, activists, elected officials, and media for discussions, including a panel on the legacy of Barack Obama moderated by CNN contributor Angela Rye with former President Obama officials.

• A discussion about the future of Black Intellectuals will follow with panel members: Georgetown University professor and author Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Dr. Jelani Cobb from Columbia University, Dr. Mary Frances Berry from University of Pennsylvania, and other scholars. The women’s empowerment and networking lunch will honor April Reign, creator of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, and recording artist MC Lyte, among others. The luncheon will be hosted by Mara Schiavocampo, ABC News correspondent.

• Day two will also feature a discussion about transparency in the media, including: Suzanna Andrews, contributing editor of Vanity Fair Magazine; Arthur Browne, editor-in-chief for the New York Daily News; Roland Martin, managing editor at NewsOne Now; Bill Ritter, co-anchor of Eyewitness News on WABC; Cheryl Willis, reporter with NY1 TV; Charles Ellison, contributing editor at The Root; and Larry Young, Radio Host of WOLB 1010 AM in Baltimore, amongst others.

• The third day of NAN’s annual national convention will include a panel discussion on dealing with gun crime in the community and a panel on pension diversity funds. Panelists include Spike Lee, film director, producer, writer, and actor; and Cyrus Vance, District Attorney of New York County, among others.

• Day three also includes a panel on pension diversity funds, featuring: John Rogers, Jr., chairman, CEO & chief investment officer of Ariel Investments, Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller, and Scott M. Stringer, NYC comptroller, amongst others. The annual Ministers Luncheon will honor Bishop Marvin Sapp, recording artist and member of the NAN board of directors, as well as other prominent clergy.

• On the closing day of NAN’s annual national convention there will be a special televised forum entitled “Measuring the Movement” hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton, featuring leaders from the legacy civil rights organizations and national elected officials. The day will feature various discussions for young people including activism in a social media era and a closing fashion show.

From Various Wire Service Reports

NEW YORK
New York City and other law enforcement officials are still seeking to piece together the cause of the reasons for the death of  Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, whose body was found floating in the Hudson River last week.

As the investigation into her death continues, homicide has not been ruled out. The initial reason suggested was suicide, for there were no signs of trauma or other foul play after her body was pulled from the river on April 12.

Abdus-Salaam was the first Black woman to serve on New York State’s highest court. While it was widely reported that she was the first Muslim to be a member of the New York Court of Appeals, she never converted to Islam. Rather, she merely took her first husband’s Islamic surname, according to the Washington Post.

According to one law enforcement officials, Judge Abdus-Salaam called her Midtown Manhattan chambers on April 11 morning to say she would not be coming in because she was not feeling well.

When the judge failed to appear the following day, her assistant sent a text to her husband of eight months, who called 911 to report her missing a short time later. Her body was found that afternoon, floating in the river by the shore near West 132nd Street.

The judge was wearing a gray zippered sweater, Black sweatpants, a gray T-shirt and New Balance sneakers, the official said. She also had a white watch on her wrist and a MetroCard in her pocket. Investigators do not believe that she had been in the river long.

According to media reports, she was  last seen leaving her office on Monday evening.

Investigators tracked her to the subway – the No. 6 line – at about 8 p.m., the official said. Investigators found the judge’s cellphone in her apartment, another official said, and the door had been locked with keys from the outside. Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

“She was a lovely, genteel lady,” Jonathan Lippman, a former chief judge of New York State, said. “We’re all just shocked. No one has any idea what happened.”

Her death has shocked many including her neighbor and friend Deborah Audate. In a recent interview in New York Daily News, Audate said, “Even though she was an appellate judge, which is a position of high authority, she was just an ordinary person on the block. She’s just very smart. She really was a very humble person.  She’s very well respected on this block. I think we’re still stunned by it.”

But, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested her death might be related to personal issues, in an interview in USA TODAY.

“Obviously, we’re still waiting for the full investigation but to the extent that the challenges and the stresses in her life contributed to this, it’s a reminder that even the most accomplished people still deal with extraordinary challenges inward, and we don’t get to see that,” de Blasio said. “And it is humbling. It’s a sad day, someone who got so far and was lost so soon.”

Abdus-Salaam, 65,  who was the first African-American woman on the state’s highest court, in recent years lost her brother and mother, both around Easter, according to sources.

Her brother was troubled over the death of his mom, and shot himself with a handgun, the sources said.

Abdus-Salaam struggled with depression, according to family members who spoke with investigators.

“We don’t believe she was in the water the whole time,” Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. “We have a long way to go. We’ve spoken to many people in her family about her history.”

Police haven’t found a suicide note, but Abdus-Salaam had told a doctor she was stressed recently, law-enforcement sources said.

Abdus-Salaam was born in 1952 to a working-class family of seven children in Washington, D.C., where she attended public schools.

Her great-grand father was a slave in Virginia.

As a teenager, she was inspired to enter the legal profession after an encounter with civil rights attorney Frankie Muse Freeman, according to a 2013 news release from Seymour W. James Jr., attorney-in-charge of criminal practice of the Legal Aid Society in New York City.

She was elected to the Civil Court of the City of New York in 1991, before moving on to the Supreme Court of New York County in 1993. She was the  first female judge in 1994, when she was appointed by the Governor.

Then, in March 2009, Gov. David A. Paterson appointed her an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department.

He was the state’s first Black Governor from 2008 to 2010, after Eliot Spitzer resigned for being involved in a prostitution scandal.

Abdus-Salaam graduated from Barnard College in 1974 and from Columbia Law School in 1977, and spent time working with indigent clients as a staff attorney at Brooklyn Legal Services. She also served as an assistant state attorney general.

Abdus-Salaam was married three times. Her second husband was James Hatcher. And she is survived by Jacobs, whom she married in 2016 and is a minister at the Episcopal Diocese of Newark.

This article was compiled from media reports by Leonard E. Colvin and Rosaland Tyler.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has heard the call for a new report on federal advertising and they’re listening.

One year ago, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) stood on Capitol Hill with members of the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP) and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) urging the GAO to issue a new report detailing how much money federal agencies spend on advertising in Black- and Hispanic-owned newspapers and media companies. Now, the GAO said it that will launch a formal investigation.

The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress and investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars, according to the group’s website.

Norton has been at the forefront of the call for the report, noting that the federal government spends billions of dollars on advertising services each year, but spends very little with minority-owned publications and media companies.

In March 2016, Norton sent a letter to Gene Dodaro, the comptroller general at the GAO, asking for a new investigation and a long overdue follow up to a 2007 GAO report that revealed the lack of advertising by federal agencies in minority-owned media companies.

Norton’s letter was signed by several members of Congress including: former Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.); Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.); Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio); Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.); Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).

In December, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) joined Norton’s efforts, each sending their own letters to the GAO.

“Yes, we have accepted the request,” said Chuck Young, the managing director of public affairs for the GAO.

Through a spokesman, Norton said she was pleased that GAO is moving forward. No start date is set yet.

Norton said that the federal government is the largest advertiser in the United States and it’s important that news outlets and media companies owned or published by people of color with a primary mission to serve communities of color have the same opportunities as other media outlets, especially as the Black and Hispanic populations continue to grow in our country.

In 2007, the GAO investigated the spending on advertising contracts with minority-owned businesses by five agencies – the Department of Defense, Department of the Treasury, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Interior, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – and found that just five percent of the $4.3 billion available for advertising campaigns went to minority-owned businesses.

The NAHP and NNPA enjoy an estimated reach of 43 million readers each week across the United States, representing 33 percent of the total population.

Additionally, the buying power of the African-American and Hispanic communities, currently at more than $2.3 trillion combined, continues to outpace the national average. Due to their positions of trust in the community, minority-owned media companies remain the most practical advertising and outreach partners for all federal and private agencies.

“News outlets and media companies owned or published by people of color are critical to ensuring that diverse viewpoints are presented to the American people,” said Rep. Menendez. “As one of the largest advertisers in the United States, the federal government should play an active role in ensuring that minority-owned media outlets have fair opportunities to compete for and be awarded federal advertising contracts.”

By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Contributor