NNPA Celebrates Black Press Week
Following a nearly two-centuries-old tradition, Black Press Week forum will be hosted in the nation’s capital to address issues and concerns of Black newspapers
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
Following the tradition established by Messrs. Samuel Cornish and John B. Russwurm, the founders of the Black Press and publishers of Freedom’s Journal, the first Black newspaper in the Western World, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) will hold a State of the Black Press luncheon and forum at the National Press Club today. Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., chairman of NNPA will deliver a ‘State of the Black Press’ address to be followed by a panel discussion which will include Rev. Jesse Jackson (Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; Dr. Julianne Malveaux (Bennett College); Dr. Ron Daniels; Roslyn Brock (NAACP); Harry Alford (National Black Chamber of Commerce); and Marc Morial (National Urban League).
As chairman of the NNPA, Bakewell has taken the lead in unifying and harnessing the organization’s members to demand the same rights and privileges as others in the media market place. He said, “It is certainly an honor to follow in the footsteps of Cornish and Russwurm and to be able to harness the power and thrust of America’s Black Press in order to continue the struggle that so many have lived and died for. That we have the first Black president is no accident and it is a testament of all those on whose shoulders we stand. The Black Press is the power and the voice of Black people.”
Dorothy R. Leavell, chair of the NNPA Foundation, which leads the annual event said, “When Mr. Russwurm and Mr. Cornish said, ‘We wish to plead our own cause. For too long have others spoken for us,’ they began publishing the very first Black newspaper on March 1827. It certainly is momentous because 183 years later with a Black president in the White House, we still have to plead our own cause.”
In addition to the forum, the NNPA will honor as civil rights and social justice warriors: Dr. Dorothy Height, chair and president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women; Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the State of the Black World, 21st Century; Earl and Amanda Stafford of the Stafford Foundation; District Attorney Craig Watkins of Dallas County; Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA9), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and a posthumous salute to entertainer Michael Jackson as the 2009 Newsmaker of the Year.
In honoring those above, it is important to those who still walk among us for the great work that they have done and continue to do, especially the CBC since its membership has continued to grow infusing the organization with new representatives and new ideas. Under the leadership of Congresswoman Lee, CBC continues to fight for bread-and-butter issues, not only for Black Americans, but for all Americans – that is why CBC is affectionately called ‘the Conscience of the Congress.’ Issues on its agenda includes, but are not limited to jobs, healthcare, education, and a fair share of the stimulus funds that seem to be elusive in reaching those who are most in need. For example: while state and local governments are laying people off in order to balance their budgets, the CBC is aggressively engaging the Congress to create public and private sector jobs in communities across America. The Local Jobs for America Act is one piece of a multifaceted approach to stimulate the economy, create jobs and respond to the needs of the chronically unemployed and underemployed, as well as populations who are living below the poverty line. “This legislation reflects the work of members of the Congressional Black Caucus who have teamed with Chairman Miller to craft provisions that directly address the needs of the chronically unemployed.” Among the provisions in the bill sought by members of the CBC are:
* Targeting funding to community-based organizations serving communities with poverty rates of 12 percent and/or unemployment rates that are 2 percent or more than the national average.
* On-the-job training for thousands seeking new skills for a new economy.
* Targeting those communities hit hardest by the recession especially the chronically unemployed and underemployed.
* Support programs that retrain, rehire and hire teachers, law enforcement officers and firefighters