Sen. Bernie Sanders (Courtesy of NNPA Newswire)
**FILE** Sen. Bernie Sanders (Courtesy of NNPA Newswire)

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) wrapped up its 2019 annual convention with a passionate speech by Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders and the presentation of the Lifetime Legacy Award to former NNPA member and Executive Officer Marjorie Parham.

Parham, a 101-year-old legend, spent more than three decades at the helm of the Cincinnati Herald and became a respected figure in the greater Queen City community through both her newspaper work and her involvement in numerous civic organizations.

“God blessed her with a long life,” outgoing NNPA Chairman Dorothy R. Leavell said at the awards ceremony that included greetings from former Ohio state Sen. and Sanders surrogate Nina Turner and an after-party with the legendary funk and soul musician Bootsy Collins.

“Majorie Parham, live and enjoy,” Leavell said.

In a stirring keynote address, Sanders blasted President Donald Trump and said if he’s elected he will push for free college, health care and cancellation of student loan debt.

“We have a president who is, in fact, a racist and a bigot,” Sanders said of Trump. “I wish I did not have to say it.”

The Vermont senator pledged to focus on racial and economic equality as he expressed disgust with the inequity of wealth in America.

“There is no excuse for white families to own 10 times more wealth than Black families,” Sanders said.

Highlighted by a number of panels and presentations aimed at furthering empowering publishers of the Black Press, the conference kicked off Tuesday, June 25 with the third annual National Black Parents Town Hall where educators, newsmakers and community stakeholders discussed the Every Succeeds Act.

NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. with new NNPA Chair and Houston Forward Times Publisher Karen Carter Richards (Mark Mahoney/DreamInColorPhoto)
NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. with new NNPA Chair and Houston Forward Times Publisher Karen Carter Richards (Mark Mahoney/DreamInColorPhoto)

An official opening reception followed at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, where publishers and visitors were treated to live music, food and a tour of the museum.

The center counts as a museum that’s based on the history of the Underground Railroad. Opened in 2004, the center also pays tribute to all efforts to abolish human enslavement and secure freedom for all people, officials said.

Morgan Owens, an NNPA columnist, entrepreneur and author, hosted a plenary session for millennials while Celeste Kearney, the daughter of host publisher Jan Michele Kearney, led a session on how to launch a podcast.

Candy Moore, the senior vice president and manager of community relations and Southeast Community Development at Wells Fargo, presented a discussion about the Wells Fargo Foundation Relaunch.

Topics also included “How the New Tax Laws will Affect Your Business,” “New Rules of Editing and Writing,” “Grow Your Business with Google” and “Harnessing the Amazing Power of Facebook.”

General Motors’ Lester Booker Jr. participated in a fireside chat with NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. to discuss Chevrolet’s Discover the Unexpected Fellows Program and other initiatives from the automaker.

Brenda Andrews of the New Journal and Guide newspaper in Norfolk, Va., won the coveted Publisher of the Year Award at the convention on Thursday.

Andrews, who hosted last year’s convention, was greeted with a standing ovation as she ascended the platform to accept the award from NNPA Foundation Chair Amelia Ashley-Ward, publisher of the San Francisco Sun Reporter.

The Miami Times (10 awards), Philadelphia Tribune (9), and the St. Louis American (7) were the biggest winners of the night.

Included in the Miami Times awards was the John B. Russwurm Trophy, which recognizes the newspaper that accumulates the most points in the foundation’s annual journalism competition.

During the ceremony, Ashley-Ward asked for prayers for Miami Times Publisher Rachel Reeves, whom Ashley-Ward announced was gravely ill.

Westside Gazette Publisher Bobby Henry accepted the awards on behalf of the Miami Times and pledged to personally deliver them to Reeves and her family.

In 1827, Russwurm co-founded Freedom’s Journal with Samuel E. Cornish the country’s first African American-owned and -operated newspaper, with the credo: “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.”

The awards were hosted by MillerCoors while partner and sponsors included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, General Motors, Pfizer Rare Disease, RAI Services Company, Ford, Macy’s, Wells Fargo, P&G, Volkswagen, API, AARP, Ascension, AmeriHealth Caritas, Fifth Third Bank and the NNPA Foundation.

The convention closed with a luncheon cruise and a trip to Great American Ballpark hosted by Procter & Gamble where convention attendees were treated to a baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs.

Publishers elected a new NNPA board, including Leavell’s replacement as chair, Houston Forward Times Publisher Karen Carter Richards.

“We did it,” Carter Richards exclaimed after her election.

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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