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After Black Press Week culminated with National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. delivering the State of the Black Press, it’s safe to say the state of the Black Press in America in 2023 is strong, resilient and getting stronger day by day.
More than 30 NNPA publishers and journalists followed up the address with a special White House visit in which Shalanda Young, the director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre spoke exclusively to the group.
Young, the first Black woman to lead the White House budget office, detailed the importance of the President’s fiscal plan to communities of color.
Jean-Pierre engaged the NNPA in her office, where she promised that the administration has continued to push for equity and equality for Black Americans.
“I would happily argue with anyone that this administration has done more for Black people than any other administration in history,” Jean-Pierre said.
Though she acknowledged there’s still more work needed legislatively, Jean-Pierre noted what the Biden-Harris administration has accomplished through executive orders and legislation like the American Rescue Plan, the Child Tax Credit, a historic more than $6 billion to HBCUs, and other measures.
“The president,” she said, “ensured that our community didn’t get left behind.”
Before the trip to the West Wing, Dr. Chavis delivered a searing message about where the Black Press stands as the institution celebrates its 196th year.
The March 17 luncheon at the National Press Club included remarks from Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, who highlighted the crucial need for a thriving Black Press and broke the kind of news sure to go viral.
Thompson, who deftly led the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, told the large Press Club gathering that he expects a federal special counsel to hand up indictments in the coming weeks.
“As for January 6, what you saw with your eyes is the absolute truth,” Thompson remarked.
“Don’t believe [Fox Host] Tucker Carlson. Who are you going to believe, him or your lying eyes.”
Thompson reminisced about America’s history of settling political differences at the ballot box. “But lo and behold, that president [Donald Trump] convinced everybody that [he] would be President for life,” the congressman said. “If it weren’t for the Black Press that kept raising the issue all along about how much of a fraud that person happened to be [the outcome may have been different].”
Thompson continued: “Most of you know there is a double standard in America. No person of color with [Trump’s] history could have run for dog catcher and got anything. It’s that double standard that you fight every week in your newspapers.”
The congressman emphasized the importance of holding all people, including elected officials, accountable.
“A lot of those individuals are being called in under subpoena now and we will see what they tell the special counsel. Nobody is above the law, not even the president of the United States.”
He explained findings after a thorough January 6 investigation.
“What we saw after interviewing more than 1,000 people – the majority of whom identify with the Republican Party – we are convinced that whatever happened, happened because of one person. So, we are clear in our recommendation.”
Dr. Chavis, master of ceremonies the Rev. Mark Thompson, NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards, and other NNPA Board members presented Thompson with the 2023 NNPA Global Newsmaker of the Year Award.
In his state of the Black Press Address Chavis declared: “In the growing digital age, the Black Press of America today, in 2023, is advancing and making steady progress to engage in the necessary technological innovations to ensure the future viability and sustainability of the Black Press of America for the next 100 years.”
During his address, Dr. Chavis unveiled the new NNPA World News app, which contains global news items of interest to African Americans.
“It is revival time,” Dr. Chavis exclaimed, pivoting to a sermon-like delivery.
He declared that the NNPA would soon travel around the country for a series of Black Church, Black Press, and Black family revivals.
“We also are going to promote nationwide voter registration and massive get-out-to-vote campaigns in preparation for the 2024 national elections,” Dr. Chavis continued.
He said the NNPA would also engage in a national “James Baldwin and Fannie Lou Hamer
Drop the Pen Tour” at HBCUs and other college and university campuses and some high schools to emphasize raising up a new generation of “freedom-fighting journalists, publishers, videographers, and social media influencers.”
“With that foundational understanding of the evolution of the Black Press, we are much better able to explain and to understand why the Black Press in 2023 remains the trusted voice of Black America,” Dr. Chavis added.
“Trust is something that you cannot buy or something that you cannot fabricate. Trust, especially for African Americans, is genuine and authentic. You cannot fake it. Trust for us is deeply rooted in the social fabric of our families and the communities we serve and represent.”