The Black press in action (Courtesy of AALBC)
The Black press in action (Courtesy of AALBC)

The National Newspaper Publishers Association Fund’s (NNPAF) first virtual Black Press Week presentation proved an excellent elixir for those seeking valuable information as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

With the theme, “Black Business Challenges Responsibilities and Opportunities Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic,” Black Press publishers, readers, viewers, sponsors, partners, and anyone else tuning in were enlightened about overcoming adversities on many levels.

“We will have informative workshops,” promised Pluria Marshall Jr., the NNPAF chair and CEO of Marshall Broadcasting Group.

Marshall and his colleagues delivered.

In the opening workshop titled, “Business, Politics and Public Policy: Implications for Black-owned Businesses and the Black Press,” House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pa.) declared the value of small businesses and members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).

“Small businesses, particularly Black-owned, are the backbone of the economy,” Evans declared.

“The American Rescue Plan recognizes that and makes grants and loans available to small businesses, including the Black Press, and that is a major step. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have shown the kind of leadership and understanding the needs of getting this economy back – if not better.”

Clyburn underscored the value of COVID vaccines in the African American community.

“Protect your children and your grandchildren, protect those who you come in contact with,” he stated in discussion with Real Times Media President and CEO Hiram Jackson.

He noted that some would experience side effects of some sort, but each of the three vaccines offers a high level of effectiveness.

“If you have a 95 percent chance – I would play the lottery every day if I had a 95 percent chance of winning,” exclaimed Clyburn, who received the NNPAF’s Newsmaker of the Year Award.

The family of George Floyd also appeared to accept a special NNPAF award.

“I want to thank the NNPAF and all the publishers of the Black Press for helping people across the nation and the world to keep the spirit and legacy of George Floyd alive,” said Philonise Floyd, who was flanked by a younger brother, Rodney, and nephew Brandon Williams.

Black Press Week partners included General Motors, Pfizer Rare Disease, RAI Services Company, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Sponsors included Wells Fargo, AARP, the American Petroleum Institute, Zillow, the U.S. Census, and the Facebook Journalism Project.

A Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-sponsored education forum included John B. King, the former U.S. Education Secretary, and current president and CEO of the Education Trust.

“The education gap has widened during the pandemic, which already disproportionately has affected communities of color,” King uttered during a conversation about education equity with NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.

“Education saves lives. If not for the phenomenal New York City school teachers who gave me hope and purpose, I would be dead or in jail,” King declared.

Darrell Green, senior vice president of Southeast Small Business Development for Wells Fargo Bank, provided insights that could help businesses overcome challenges during and after the pandemic.

Atlanta Voice publisher Janis Ware hosted an “Alternative Funding for Black Press Publishers” forum with Lea Trusty, Lasharah S. Bunting and Vincent Stehl.

The NNPAF also paid tribute to one of the legends of the Black Press – celebrating the legacy of and inducting the late Carter Walter Wesley into the Black Press Archives and Gallery of Distinguished Black Publishers.

The archives and gallery are housed at the Moreland Spingarn Research Center at Howard University.

“We acknowledge and salute the historic contributions to the Black Press of America by Carter Walter Wesley,” Marshall, the NNPAF chair, exclaimed during the virtual ceremony.

“We will always hold dear in our hearts not only our memories of the outstanding contributions of Carter Walter Wesley. We also know that today, it is important to remain vigilant and committed to his example of leadership and courage to be the trusted voice of Black America,” Marshall proclaimed.

“We are honored to install Carter Walter Wesley into the Black Press Archives and Gallery of Distinguished Black Publishers.”

Wesley, who pushed for voting rights and weighed a campaign against systemic racism, married Dorris Wooten, and the couple reared three children.

Wesley died in 1969 at the age of 87.

“Thank you for honoring my father, the publisher of the Houston Informer and Dallas Express,” Kathy Wesley Ennix, Wesley’s daughter, stated during her father’s virtual enshrinement ceremony on Friday.

The ceremony included a touching video about Wesley’s inspiring life and career.

“My dad was a man of integrity and character,” she said. He fought for what he believed. Not only was he a businessman, but he was also a loving and caring dad.”

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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