The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) honored Tennessee Tribune Publisher Rosetta Miller Perry during its MidWinter Training Conference in Orlando, Florida.
The four-day conference, which concluded Saturday, Jan. 26, included a fireside chat with former Tallahassee Mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, who spoke passionately about how the Black Press’ fair and balanced coverage of his failed election bid nearly helped push his campaign over the top.
“I am thankful to the Black Press,” Gillum said as he spoke at a session moderated by NNPA President and CEO Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.
Renowned civil rights attorney Benjamin L. Crump also appeared at the conference to speak to a panel on criminal-justice reform.
Crump said major court rulings have giving law enforcement a license to shoot and kill African Americans. However, he cautioned that he and other civil rights lawyers are actively working to defend and protect the interests of the Black community.
Arikana Chihombori-Quao, the African Union Ambassador to the United States, also appeared at the conference, where she and Jamaican Tourist Board Groups and Conventions Manager John Woolcock spoke about the global expansion of the Black Press — particularly to Africa and Jamaica.
The ambassador also said African leaders are on the verge of a free trade agreement that has Africa poised to become the world’s largest free trade area with the 55 countries merging into a single market of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion.
“African leaders are saying with one voice, one mind, and one heart that we are one continent,” Chihombori-Quao said.
A panel also tackled investigative journalism and the importance of the Black Press to tell its own stories.
On Friday, Jan. 25, Perry received the NNPA Lifetime Achievement Award before a festive and appreciative gathering at the conference.
“Two years ago, it was Bob Bogle being honored from the Philadelphia Tribune and last year we saw Rod Doss of the New Pittsburgh Courier receive the Lifetime Achievement Award,” Perry said. “Tonight, it’s Rosetta Perry.
“Maybe there’s something to it. … Three great publishers all from Pennsylvania,” she said, noting that she was raised in the Keystone State.
Perry thanked her fellow publishers for the distinguished recognition, one that she said she’s glad happened now.
“I’m 85,” Perry quipped. “I’m sure glad you didn’t wait until I was 90.”
While the comment brought laughter and applause, Perry said the NNPA — the trade organization that consists of about 215 African American owned newspapers and media companies around the country — needs to work harder toward establishing a younger leadership.
“I have a clear vision and I’d like to see NNPA move toward the young ones because they know how to handle situations and they should not have to wait until they’re my age to hold positions,” she said. “The young ones are talking about building relationships and that’s what’s needed.”
Perry toned down the festive atmosphere a bit to ask all to keep Mississippi Link Publisher Jackie Hampton in their thoughts. Hampton abruptly left the conference after receiving news that her mother died.
Crooner Howard Hewett belted out several of his hit songs to toast Perry, while several others also offered congratulatory words.
“You were the first person in the United States to welcome me into your home,” Chihombori-Quao told Perry. “I’m forever grateful for our friendship.”
After joking about Perry’s abilities as a nurse in which she’s able to “embalm people,” Westside Gazette Publisher Bobby Henry praised his contemporary.
“Rosetta Miller Perry is ever acclaimed for all she did during [the civil rights movement] with Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks” and others, Henry said prior to a video tribute that included congratulatory remarks from Nashville Mayor David Briley, Democratic U.S. Rep. James Cooper, Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Shawn Josephs, and Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover.