|SPEAKING TO HIS PEOPLE: President Barack Obama is seen here in the White House speaking to African American newspaper publishers who came to honor the President recently after his first visit to Southern California.|
African American publishers return to White House for the first time in eight years
Fresh off his first visit to Southern California since being elected the 44th President, Barack Obama rushed back to Washington D. C. to meet and greet forty African American newspaper publishers during the long-standing tradition of 'Celebrate Black Press Week' in the Oval Office.
President Obama's brief tour of the Southland included an historical visit to 'The Tonight Show', an informative town hall meeting and a visit to a local middle school.
However, upon his return home the President fulfilled a promise to accept an award as 'Newsmaker of the Year' by the National Newspapers Publishers Association, which was bestowed upon him in 2007.
"President Obama promised that he would accept the award when he was in the White House," said Dorothy Leavell of Crusader Newspapers.
Leavell, whose publications cover Chicago and Gary Indiana, said that she nor any of her peers ever thought such an historical occasion of Obama's presidency would occur.
President Obama was still a senator from Chicago launching his candidacy for the highest office in the land when he was chosen for the coveted honor.
The tradition of 'Celebrating Black Press Week' commemorates the founding of the first Black newspaper on March 16, 1827 by John B. Russwurm.
The NNPA has been celebrating the occasion each year since 1960, but the group had not been invited during the eight years of President George W. Bush's administration.
Sentinel Executive Publisher Danny J. Bakewell Sr. was among the contingent of publishers who greeted the first Black President during the informal gathering where questions were asked of the Chief Executive.
"I'm sure that many felt like I did that perhaps we would not see the day when a Black man was elected President, although we all knew that such a man with such qualifications existed. For President Obama, to not just recognize his heritage but embrace us was certainly the icing on the cake," said Bakewell Sr.
The publishers were all elated to have to opportunity to visits President Obama in the White House and he, along with First Lady Michelle Obama, thanked each of them for their support on the monumental historical journey.
The purpose of the Black media having meetings with the President is to discuss issues pertaining to Blacks, and first began when Fredrick Douglas met with Abraham Lincoln and has continued with direct dialogue with every sitting president including Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and many others.