Just a few days into the new administration under President Donald Trump, it appears that his campaign promises to repeal legislation championed by former President Obama, to bring more conservative-minded leaders into the fold and to turn America’s focus inward are well on the way to being kept.
At the same time, Trump continues to strategically use social media, Twitter in particular, as his own bully pulpit — in effect, eliminating the need for press conferences and regular interactions with the information-seeking media countering the norm followed by U.S. presidents for over a century.
In recent days, the president has also made several allegations including his assertion that three to five million people voted illegally in the last election, causing him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton and that over a million people witnessed his inauguration.
And while both assertions have been categorically refuted and shown to be false, at least based on the evidence now available to the public, the president has been unwilling to provide his proof. Should we simply accept his notions as the “gospel truth” or should we do what any reputable reporter would do — dig for the facts, follow the information trail, query experts on the topics addressed and even share our findings with each other?
I will answer my own question with a loud “yes.” But are we working with one another?
To provide our readers with the most up-to-date and objective information about this new administration and the direction in which Trump intends to take our nation, access will be vital. And that has been one of the major topics of discussion on the agenda as members of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Newspaper Publishers Association have met over the last several weeks and which continues to lead ongoing discussions today.
Said another way, the Black press can ill-afford to be ignored, marginalized or shut out. We deserve a place at every table, in every press conference and wherever information is shared or decisions made that have the potential to impact our lives or the lives of our children and grandchildren. That is why we must say to those who lead America today, and as the song says, “We shall not be moved.”
From the first days of the Black press in the early 1820s through today, we have addressed a surprising array of issues and topics, using our pages to share critiques and report news bent toward changing the American culture for the better. And we will need to continue in that vein as a Republican-led White House and Congress seek to enact legislation that may not be in the best interest of America’s black and brown communities.
History shows us that during the era when those earliest papers were published by men like John Russwurm, Samuel Cornish and Frederick Douglass, as well as the men and women who followed, they all agreed that they would not and could not rest until Blacks were allowed to live as free and equal citizens in the U.S. Almost 200 years later, since the founding of Freedom’s Journal (1827), the mission of the Black press has not changed.
We will need to stand firm and remain united — reporters, editors and publishers alike.
We are the Black press, carrying the torch of truth first lit and courageously held high by those who laid the foundation including: Russwurm, Cornish, Ida B. Wells, Robert Abbott, John Sengstacke and Robert L. Vann.
We shall not be moved.