The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), also known as the Black Press of America, is convening in Norfolk June 26-30 at the Main Hotel for its annual summer meeting. This year’s theme is “Celebrating 191 Years of Black Press In America: Sustaining Engaging, and Mobilizing Black Communities.” Serving as Host for the convention is the area’s New Journal and Guide, which at 118 years of continuous publication, is one of the oldest newspapers of the association of over 200-member media companies.
The last time the national group met in Norfolk was in 1997. It meets twice annually at sites around the nation and Caribbean mainly where its member newspapers are located. Black-owned newspaper companies are located in states in five regions of the United States.
A few of the confirmed notable attendees for the Norfolk convention include Attorney Benjamin Crump, Principal, Ben Crump Law, and Sarah Glover, President, NABJ, who will dialogue about Black Press vs. Fake News. The Honorable Robert (Bobby) Scott (D-VA) will receive a Lifetime Legislative award and the Lifetime Legacy Award will be presented to the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson.
Farley Perkins, Vice President of Southern Volkswagen locally, will present on how to capture automobile advertising dollars both locally and nationally, and Humans.net will present directly to publishers about an enormous opportunity to receive expanded advertising dollars.
Other sessions to include a panel discussion on sickle cell disease in the Black community are planned as well as new and potential sponsors are on board to network with NNPA publishers. The 2018 conference ends with a luncheon cruise and an evening jazz concert.
The jazz concert is being sponsored by the NNPA Conference Host, Brenda H. Andrews, Publisher of the New Journal and Guide, and supported by the City of Norfolk.
The Black Press of America dates to 1827 when the founding newspaper, “Freedom’s Journal” appeared in New York. Written by Rev. Samuel Cornish and John Russworm, it set forth its mission: “For too long others have spoken for us; now we wish to speak for ourselves.” Though Freedom’s Journal lasted only a short time, it set the stage for the next 191 years of Black-owned newspapers advocating for the concerns, rights and issues of racial, economic, political and social equality and equity for the Black communities served by these newspapers and beyond.
The current president and CEO of the NNPA is Dr. Benjamin Chavis, noted civil rights leader who gained international fame in Wilmington, N.C., when he and nine other young civil rights workers were wrongfully convicted in 1971 and incarcerated on charges of arson and conspiracy. An appeal finally won the release of the Wilmington Ten after they had served a decade in jail. Finally, in 2012 the surviving members of the 10 were pardoned by North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue. The Wilmington 10 story is the subject of an NNPA documentary.
The NNPA is headed by Chairman Dorothy Leavell of Chicago who publishes the Chicago and Gary Crusader newspapers. She was first elected to the position in June of 1995 for a two-year term and was re-elected in June 1997 when the publishers last met in Norfolk, ending her term in 1999.
Leavell has been credited with increasing the visibility and international stature of the trade organization. In June of 2006, Leavell was elected Chairman of the NNPA Foundation.
She was voted in as National NNPA Chairman again in 2017.