“We wish to plead our own cause.”
In 1827, Samuel Cornish and John B. Russworm joined forces to create the nation’s first Black-owned newspaper, “Freedom’s Journal” and these words set forth the guiding mission.
From June 26-30 in Norfolk, today’s Black-owned Newspaper Publishers and staff members held their annual summer National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) convention. The event was designed to celebrate and respect the 191st birthday of the founding of Freedom’s Journal and the 78th birthday of the NNPA.
This was the first time since 1997 that the 118-year old New Journal and Guide has hosted the annual event. It was held at Norfolk’s Hilton, the Main, in the city’s downtown waterfront district.
NNPA’s CEO Rev. Dr. Ben Chavis and Dorothy Leavell, the organization’s Chairman and Publisher of the Chicago and Gary (Indiana) Crusaders, led the convention through an array of panels and sessions on a variety of issues from criminal justice reform to “fake news” and how the Black press since its inception has recognized and combated challenges to Black liberation.
National corporations, such as Ford and General Motors Company, sponsored many of these workshops.
Such support allows them to display their interest in promoting good corporate citizenship and supporting causes championed by NNPA, such as civil rights and equality for Blacks.
Among workshops, cigarette maker RJ Reynolds sponsored an event on racial profiling of Blacks and laws seeking to ban the use of menthol cigarettes.
One of two panel discussions on criminal justice reforms featured Lamont Carey, author of the book “Dead Before 18 — Saving Our Boys from the Streets.” He is the founder of CONTACT VISITS, which works to reduce recidivism, among Blacks.
During the four-day gathering, a number of awards for public service and leadership were handed out. Virginia’s Third District Congressman Robert “Bobby” Scott was given the NNPA’s 2018 National Congressional Leadership Award. During the 2018 NNPA Lifetime Legacy Award Black Tie Gala, civil rights icon, and longtime activist, Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., received the organization’s Lifetime Legacy Award.
By Leonard E. Colvin