As America grapples with its centuries-old disease of racism, mass shootings, unprecedented political dysfunction, police brutality, misinformation and ongoing attacks on voting and other fundamental rights continue to dominate news headlines.
Nonetheless, the Black Press has remained the trusted voice for news in both the African-American community and beyond.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade association of the 230-plus Black-owned newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America, remains poised to observe the 195th anniversary of the birth of Freedom’s Journal and the Black Press.
An informative and entertaining convention kicks off at the Hilton Riverside Hotel on June 22 in New Orleans with the theme, “195 Years of the Black Press: Amplifying our Voices for Freedom, Justice, Equality, and Equity.”
Readers of the Washington Informer and other Black-owned newspapers said they envision the Black Press remaining an integral part of their lives and shared why the Black Press remains vital after 195 years of service.
“For a people whose vast numbers could not read in 1827, words on paper were manna from heaven,” stated David Youngblood, who regularly opens up YouTube and Facebook to watch the NNPA’s daily morning show, “Let It Be Known.”
“The Black Press provided that sustenance. That ‘news’ passed from print to mouth to ear across the country. The Black Press did and still does connect us. The Black Press has continually kept us informed,” Youngblood concluded.
He’s not alone.
“In the words of a great man, ‘The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and make the guilty innocent,’” said Jacoby Jelks, an artist previously featured in the Black Press.
“With such great power, it’s imperative that the Black community control the narrative of what and how we would like to be perceived by other races and ethnicities and not allow our stories to be cemented by those who may not have shared in the Black American experience – history has proven that it could be detrimental and dangerous,” he said. “The significance of the Black Press of America is that it provides us the opportunity for our voices to be heard in a world that is mainly controlled by mainstream media.”
Michelle Madison, who also counts among the loyal viewers of “Let It Be Known,” called the Black Press crucial to the survival of African Americans.
“Not only is it needed to counteract a mirage of negative stereotypes but it serves as a vehicle to help Black businesses thrive,” Madison wrote in an email. “Unfortunately, the Black community is often subjected to one-sided opinions and news from whites and other counterparts. As a result, there is a void in newsworthy issues that the Black Press can only address.”
Joni King offered that she sees the Black Press thriving and growing well after its 195-years history.
“I appreciate the dedication that has contributed to the success of the Black Press,” King said. “The Black Press is admirable through its hard work and that distinguishes it from mainstream media.”
At a time when the Black voice found itself suppressed and silenced, having news stories and features that represented African Americans not only provided a sense of community but hope, insisted Ashley M. King.
“African Americans were finally in a position of ownership – able to own and control the media’s narrative and use their voice to speak against injustices,” King said. “African Americans could utilize their gifts and talents beyond the cotton field to voice their struggle.”
Chenadra Washington, a leading voice at Washington International LLC, called the 195th observance of the Black Press “huge.”
“For me, it’s not only the fact that Black Press America was founded during slavery but also the fact that it is still standing today,” Washington said. “That’s pure resiliency.
“As a recently transitioned entrepreneur, I often think about the courage of my ancestors and the sheer determination to build,” she said. “Knowing that [the Black Press] was founded in 1827 and is still serving and bringing value today makes me beam with pride and helps me stay the course.”
The NNPA’s convention and celebration of the 195th anniversary of the Black Press is open to the public. For information, visit https://www.nnpa-events.com.