Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., National Newspaper Publishers Association president and CEO (Courtesy of NNPA Newswire)
**FILE** Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., National Newspaper Publishers Association president and CEO (Courtesy of NNPA Newswire)

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) kicked off its annual conference in New Orleans this week with a slate of panels aimed at informing and inspiring Black America and increasing voter registration rolls among people of color.

The NNPA serves as a trade association representing more than 230 African-American newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America.

In celebration of the 195th anniversary of the Black Press of America, the overall theme of the four-day conference is “Amplifying Our Voices for Freedom, Justice, Equality and Equity.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone, including the hotel staff,” said Cheryl Smith, an NNPA board member and publisher of the Texas Metro News, the Garland Journal and I Messenger Media.

On June 22 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, the conference began with board meetings hosted by the NNPA and the NNPA Fund.

A Chairman’s Reception formally kicked off the conference with greetings and acknowledgments from NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards, NNPA President Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., NNPA Convention Planning Committee Chair Terry Jones, New Orleans Tribune Publisher Beverly McKenna, Louisiana Weekly Publisher Renette Hall and a proclamation from New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

The reception also featured acknowledgments from convention partners, sponsors and other guests.

Video and in-person tributes will include Vice President Kamala Harris, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Joyce Beatty, Universal Hip Hop Museum Executive Director Rocky Bucano, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, California Rep. Barbara Lee and Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland.

Highly-anticipated panel discussions featured themes including “Amplifying Voices of Generation Z and Millennials Through the Black Press of America,” moderated by Mark Thompson, the host of “Make It Plain.”

The panel hoped to explore how young African Americans view the importance of the future of the Black Press. Featured panelists included: Houston Forward Times On-Air Personality Jonita “Go JJ Go” Buchanan, Media Personality DaNeshia Bell, Videographer Joshua McMillian, Washington Informer Bridge Publisher Lafayette Barnes and New Orleans Data Weekly Journalist Melony Mainor.

Later in the week, Chavis will moderate “The Path to Inclusion is Electric: How GM Is Building an All-Inclusive Workforce to Build an All-Electric Future.”

In addition, Melinda Hightower, the managing director and head of multicultural strategic client segments at UBS Bank, will host the session, “The Black Press on Equity and Wealth Building for Black America.”

Rosetta Miller-Perry, the publisher of the Tennessee Tribune, will join Baltimore Times Editor Paris Brown, Inglewood Today Publisher Ken Miller and Washington Informer Staff Writer James Wright for the session.

Attorney Barbara Arnwine, the founder and president of Transformative Justice Coalition (TJC), and Daryl Jones, TJC’s chairman of the board, will host “Black America Get Out the Vote and the Black Press.”

Northern Kentucky University Professor Dr. David Childs will lead Defender Network Managing Editor ReShonda Tate-Billingsley and Defender Network Social Justice Journalist Aswad Walker in a discussion about “The Black Press and the Antidote to Racism in America.”

The NNPA Fund will present its 2022 Messenger Awards during a dinner on Thursday, June 23.

Dr. John Warren, the San Diego Voice & Viewpoint publisher, has been chosen to provide the invocation while Mississippi Link Publisher Jackie Hampton will announce scholarship recipients.

NNPA Fund Chair and Wave Communications President/CEO Pluria Marshall Jr. and Fund Treasurer and Times Weekly Publisher Jayme Cain Casimere will present the Messenger Awards to NNPA journalists and publishers.

On Friday, June 24, the NNPA will host its 2022 Lifetime Achievement and Legacy Award Gala.

This year’s honorees include: Westside Gazette Publisher Bobby Henry, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Jackson State University Football Coach Deion “Prime” Sanders and recording superstar and actress Stephanie Mills.

With hits like “Home,” “Never Knew Love Like This Before” and “I Feel Good All Over,” Mills will speak about the importance of the Black Press in her life and perform a medley of her songs.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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