NNPA Chairman Danny Bakewell gives â€œPower of the Black
Pressâ€ address at the National Press Club Luncheon in celebration of
Black Press Week.
NNPA Publishers with civil rights icon Congresswoman John
Lewis (D-Ga.) after he addresses them on Capitol Hill
At Power of the Black Press Luncheon: Bakewell Promises Black Newspapers Will Speak for Themselves
By Pharoh Martin
NNPA National Correspondent
WASHINGTON (NNPA)- Upon the 183rd anniversary of the founding of America’s first Black newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, NNPA Chairman Danny Bakewell told a packed ballroom at the National Press Club that the power of the Black Press will be its increased transformation in 2010.
“If we don’t plead our own case, if we don’t tell our own story, if we don’t represent our own community, if we don’t represent our own people who will?” said National Newspaper Publishers Association chairman Danny Bakewell during his “Power of the Black Press” address at the Downtown D.C. press headquarters.
“We have abdicated the responsibility and abdicated the true power of the Black press when we don’t tell the story as it is. When we allow the New York Times to define what the Congressional Black Caucus is while we just sit by idly and reprint what they say. We are not a people who we can’t speak for ourselves.”
The “Power of the Black Press” luncheon brought out a who’s who of Black leadership. Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, National Urban League chief executive officer and President Marc Morial; the newly elected chairwoman of the NAACP Roslyn Brock all attended; Harry Alford, co-founder and president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Ron Daniels, president of State of the Black World, 21st Century and Dr. Julianne Malveaux, economist and president of Bennett College; Jim Winston, executive director and general counsel of the National Association of Black-owned Broadcasters, all served on the panel that responded to the Power of the Black Press address.
Sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation, the luncheon was emceed by Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of the Washington Informer. The panel was moderated by Hazel Trice Edney, editor-in-chief of the NNPA News Service.
“Everybody wants to speak for Black people but nobody wants to listen to Black people speak,” Bakewell said in his address.
The chairman spoke boldly about how the federal government spends millions of dollars in advertising budgets annually; yet consistently leaves out Black media outlets in its advertising buys.
“We’re not asking for nothing but respect and reciprocity,” Bakewell said. “But we’re not asking anymore. We are demanding that Black people get our fair share and we get our proper respect and reciprocation for what we do. We represent 14 percent of the
population in America so we want 14 percent of everything moving in the federal government. That to me is not unreasonable.”
The 70-year-old Black publisher’s organization boasts a member network of more than 200 newspapers and a combined base of 19.8 million loyal African-American weekly readers. Bakewell said that kind of power and influence must be respected.
“We have a major, major institution that we are at the helm of,” Bakewell said. “And we don’t intend for this institution to do
anything except wield its power and influence throughout America on behalf of Black people.”
Black newspapers know the stories of the African-American community, Bakewell said. He urged readers’ support to their community newspapers not only through the good times but also when times are trying because, he said, their newspapers will continue to plead the case of Black America.
“There is not one Black civil rights leader, not one Black elected official, not one Black minister who did not rise to their positions
without the assistance of the Black press,” he said.
Freedom’s Journal was founded in New York City in 1827 by two free Black men.
“A hundred and eighty-three years ago, our two founding fathers John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish made a profound statement in their original editorial, and it simply said, and it as valid today and it was then,” We wish to plead our own cause,” Bakewell said. “Too long have others spoken for us.”
Rev. Jesse Jackson, who spoken before Bakewell, had also declared, “A people must tell their story or live with his story,” Jackson said. “We must tell our story.”
That which was good for African-Americans was good for the healing of the whole nation, said Jackson. “You represent the stone that the builder rejected, Jackson said. “And yet, in time, the rejected stone becomes the corner stone of the new order.”
Rev. Jackson spoke about getting all of his news about Haiti from the Black newspaper the Philadelphia Tribune, which, he said, told the news that the mainstream Philadelphia Inquirer would not.
“It wasn’t the earthquake that did the damage it was the poverty and neglect,” Jackson said. Jackson compared Haiti’s 7.0 earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people to the 8.0 earthquakes of San Francisco and the more recent Chile, in which the death tolls were tremendously far less. “We above all must tell that story of Haiti,” Jackson urged publishers and journalists in attendance. “No one else has interest. We must get deeper than the Red Cross story…who’s going to tell this story? This is our story!”
NAACP chairwoman Roslyn Brock is the nation’s oldest civil rights organization’s youngest chair. And while only less than a month in her new role she pledged her commitment to continuing the NAACP’s longstanding relationship with the Black Press.
And while only less than a month in her new role she pledged her commitment to continuing the NAACP’s longstanding relationship with the Black Press.
“Relationships are primary. All else is derivative,” Brock said. Morial also renewed his organization’s commitment to Black newspapers. He wants to help Black publishers in achieving economic parity in the distribution of advertising dollars. Morial said, “A strong Black press is essential to the maintenance of the struggle for freedom, justice and equality in this nation.”