President Joe Biden has always maintained that the Black vote pushed him over the top in his 2020 election victory over Donald Trump.
And it’s never been lost on the president that a pivotal day in his campaign occurred in Charleston, South Carolina, on Feb. 26, when he sat down for a live roundtable interview with Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade association of the more than 200 African American-owned newspapers and media companies.
Joining Chavis at that campaign-turning event were dozens of Black Press publishers and media company owners, and the livestream of that event, followed later in the day by an endorsement from Democratic South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, catapulted the once slumbering candidacy all the way to the White House.
During the NNPA’s annual convention, which celebrated 196 years of the Black Press of America, Biden appeared via video to deliver remarks to mark the occasion.
“Congratulations to the Black Press of America for celebrating 196 years of serving communities across our nation,” Biden stated in the address which aired on July 1.
“Ida B. Wells once said, the way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon the wrong. That’s the sacred charge of a free press. That’s the charge African American publishers have pursued for nearly two centuries,” Biden continued. “With every story you publish, you make our democracy stronger. Thank you for what you do to turn the light of truth wherever your work leads you. Thank you.”
The week began with a chairman’s reception at the National Museum of African American Music sponsored by Nissan, with greetings and acknowledgments from outgoing NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards, President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., and convention planning committee chair Terry Jones, the publisher of Data News Weekly in New Orleans.
Rosetta Miller-Perry, the publisher of the Tennessee Tribune, served as host for the week.
A workshop on engaging the next generation through culture and building pathways between the Black Press and the next generation through education included conversations with Houston Forward Times Business Manager Chelsea Lenora White, and Jarren Small, the CEO of Educational Entertainment and Reading with a Rapper.
The workshop stressed the importance of solving the national literacy issue to reach the next generation and provided publishers and attendees with solutions to reach an untapped market: schools.
Small and Dr. Chavis then discussed the “Black Press State of Emergency Response through Hip Hop, Education, and Literacy, during a fireside chat.
The Google News Initiative presented “3 Trends to Grow Ad Revenues in 2023” with the global program manager Tina Xiao. Xiao briefed attendees on the top trends in ad revenue and Google products aimed at helping accelerate publishers’ digital transformation.
Longtime NNPA partner General Motors hosted a lunch discussion on “Cultural Capital with Diverse Consumers Through Storytelling,” moderated by David Milledge, GM’s multicultural marketing manager.
It included panelists Brandy Merriweather and Tiffany Greene, both HBCU alums.
The Los Angeles Sentinel later presented “Digital Transformation, Staying Accessible and Relevant to Readers,” powered by Intuit, and featured Niele Anderson, the Sentinel’s Daily Brief host.
Tania Mercado, the senior manager of communications at Intuit, and Derrick Plummer, the company’s director of corporate communications, served as panelists.
They discussed the challenges of transforming print to digital and how to accelerate that transformation and overcome some of those challenges.
The NNPA Fund handed out its Merit Awards, honoring the best of Black newspapers. The Sacramento Observer won 16 awards, including Publisher of the Year for Larry Lee.
The Washington Informer earned five Merit awards, including best layout and design and accolades for its website.
Chavis also interviewed Jessie Wolley-Wilson, the president and CEO of DreamBox Learning, on education emphasizing mathematics.
Dr. Wilford T. Ussery then presented “Mathematics and Education for Black America.”
Diageo produced the video “Introducing Multicultural Consortium for Responsible Drinking,” presented by Sheila Thorne.
Also, Zillow presented “Housing Trends in Black America,” with Tyrone Law, the senior public relations specialist delivering with a focus on the latest housing state like homeownership rates, home values, and other trends in the Black community.
Keith Collins, the owner and CEO of BlackOps LLC, presented “Empowering Minority-Owned Small Businesses to be Cyber Aware.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison proved a crowd pleaser with his topic, “Ending the Cycle of Police Violence in America.”
Google Tech Transformation Lab presented a Q&A where publishers and attendees could learn more about how they could become a part of transformation tech, a new program helping news publishers achieve digital transformation through top-tier coaching and 20K in funding from the Google News Initiative.
R.J. Reynolds hosted a lunch panel on “When Good People Write Bad Public Policy: Stop the FDA Menthol Ban,” a session that expounded on the lived experiences and expertise of the nation’s leading Black law enforcement professionals and community leaders on the unintended consequences of bans and prohibitions.
Bobby Henry, the publisher of the Westside Gazette in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., won election as NNPA Chairman, succeeding Carter Richards of the Houston Forward Times.
The NNPA’s Legacy Awards and Gala Dinner honored Ellison and Tennessee State Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson.
Grammy-nominated singer Keith Washington closed the gala with a mini-concert.