Denise Rolark Barnes, NNPA chair and Washington Informer publisher, along with Benjamin Chavis, NNPA president and CEO, present a trailblazer award to Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), right. / Photo by Shevry Lassiter
Denise Rolark Barnes, NNPA chair and Washington Informer publisher, along with Benjamin Chavis, NNPA president and CEO, present a trailblazer award to Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), right. / Photo by Shevry Lassiter

Black publishers representing over 200 newspapers gathered to honor top leaders in Washington who champion the Black Press and who have helped to improve the quality of life for Black America.

Dr. Benjamin Chavis Jr., president and CEO, and Denise Rolark-Barnes, chairwoman, both of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), hosted the 2016 National Leadership Awards Reception on Thursday, Sept. 15 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.

“We are honored to be back in the nation’s capital to address the business concerns of the NNPA’s 200-plus, Black-owned media companies around the country,” Barnes said.

“Our Annual Leadership Awards Reception, held in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.’s [CBCF] Annual Legislative Conference, is one of NNPA’s signature events that mirrors what so many of our publishers do in their own communities all year long.”

Mollie Belt of the Dallas Examiner, Karen Carter Richards of the Houston Forward Times, Shannon Williams of the Indianapolis Recorder, Dorothy Leavell of the Chicago Crusader, Cheryl Mainor of the Chicago Defender, Rod Doss of the New Pittsburgh Courier and a host of other publishers attended the annual event.

“We gather at a significant moment in America’s history,” Barnes said. “We join the CBCF and others who will pay tribute to the life and legacy of Congressman Charles Rangel, Democratic representative for the 13th Congressional District of New York, who will retire this year after 46 years of national political service.”

Trailblazer awards are presented to (from left) Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). / Photos by Shevry Lassiter

Rangel, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (Delegate-DC), Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Rep. G.K. Butterfield Jr. (D-NC) received the 2016 Leadership Award where each reiterated the necessity of Black-owned and operated publications.

Rangel said that while he will retire at the end of the Congressional session in order to spend more time with his family, he will continue to provide service as needed for the Congressional Black Caucus, his home state of New York and the rest of the country.

Tony A. Gaskins Jr., a motivational speaker and life coach received the Millennial Leadership Award for his work with the NBA and Ford Motor Company.

Event sponsor AARP, on behalf of Jim Taylor, vice president of African American Outreach Strategy, had this to say about the evening.

“We are very proud of our ongoing relationship with the NNPA because we share the same commitment and passion for serving the African-American community. They have been a consistent voice of the Black community throughout their great history. At AARP, we are a voice for African Americans age 50 and over and their families as we fight and advocate for issues of importance to this community, particularly in the areas of health security, financial resilience and personal fulfillment,” Taylor said in a prepared statement.

Chavis agreed with Taylor’s sentiments.

“We admire and salute these ‘transformational leaders,’” Chavis said. “At this moment in history the United States of America is yet at another political, economic and social crossroad.”

“The outcome of the Tuesday, Nov. 8, national elections will have a profound impact on Black America and the whole of humanity,” he said.

Chavis reiterated that the Black Press has a sacred obligation and responsibility to raise up a new generation of leaders and freedom fighters. He also placed a priority goal of getting out the Black vote in the upcoming national elections in November 2016.

“This marks the 189th year of the Black Press in America,” he said. “Since the Freedom’s Journal in March of 1827, the Black print press has continued to be on the frontline of the freedom struggle and movement.”

Shevry Lassiter

Who am I? I’m Shevry, the photo editor, a photographer and now producer of the Washington Informer’s digital broadcast program. Photography has been my passion since I was a teenager capturing neighborhood...

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