Superstars Stephanie Mills, Doug E. Fresh, Cupid, and Miki Howard put an exclamation mark on a successful, inspiring, and informative National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) Midwinter Training Conference.

The virtual event concluded Friday evening with NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards, and NNPA President and CEO Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. honoring San Diego Voice & Viewpoint Publisher John Warren with the NNPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I am deeply humbled with this award and what it represents coming from those I have grown to love and respect over these decades,” Warren stated. “I see the Black Press as a sacred trust, and I am glad to be both a part of its 194-year history and future now being made.”

For more than five decades, The San Diego Voice & Viewpoint has faithfully reported on news from an African American perspective and the Black communities of San Diego County, from small church gatherings to major political campaigns.

As San Diego’s largest African American publication, the Voice & Viewpoint contains features that have highlighted people and events more comprehensively.

With the theme: “Black Press of America: Challenges, Responsibilities, and Opportunities Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic,” the conference was backed by NNPA partners and sponsors including: General MotorsPfizer Rare Disease, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Reynolds American (RAI). Conference sponsors included AARPWells FargoAmerican Petroleum Institute (API)FacebookZillowNissanUAW and Zenger News.

Open to the public at no charge, the two-day virtual event kicked off on Thursday, Jan. 28, with greetings from NNPA Chair and Houston Forward Times Publisher Karen Carter Richards.

Terry Jones, the publisher of Data News Weekly in New Orleans and the NNPA Convention Planning Committee Chair, followed Carter Richards with remarks.

Pluria Marshall Jr., the NNPA Fund Chair and Publisher of The Wave Community Newspapers in California, and Dr. Chavis also provided opening comments.

Wells Fargo presented a dynamic and informative session on “How to Adapt and Rebuild Your Small Business During COVID-19.”

With Covid-19 still raging, conference attendees heard a vital message from Dr. Leandris Liburd, the associated director of the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The CDC is working hard to address increasing Covid-19 health disparities,” Liburd proclaimed.

“The population health impact of Covid-19 has exposed decades, if not centuries, of inequities that have undermined the physical, social, material and emotional health of the racial minority population.”

To accelerate progress toward reducing Covid-19 disparities, the CDC has established a unit whose sole focus is to identify and address health disparities, Liburd remarked.

She added that long-standing systemic health and social inequities had put many from racial and ethnic minority groups at risk of dying from the coronavirus.

“Comprehensive interventions are needed that are tailored to address the unique circumstances of those at high risk,” Liburd stated during a session titled “COVID-19 Pandemic and Black America.”

Michael R. Grant, the founder of “Get Current Studio,” an African American-owned digital design and strategic technology development business in Menlo Park, Calif., implored Black newspaper publishers to follow more smartly the trend toward digital advertising.

“I love the Black Press, and I know you can do better,” Grant proposed during a segment titled “Overview of 2021 and the National Advertising Market Demands in the United States: The Trends Toward Digital Advertising.”

Grant currently is a teacher and training “Fellow” for the Google News Lab.

The conference also featured a workshop titled “Digital Transformation Revenue Generation: The Washington Post Case Study,” and Pfizer Rare Disease’s presentation on “Heart Disease and Black America.”

During that presentation, NBA legend and former Houston Rockets and New York Knicks Coach Don Chaney stated.

Chaney is currently battling ATTR-CM.

Pfizer Rare Disease has prioritized educating the African American community-at-large about ATTR-CM, a rare form of heart disease that primarily affects Black people.

The pharmaceutical giant has enjoyed a long-standing partnership with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).

Together, the organizations have worked to address and raise awareness about ATTR-CM and other rare diseases.

“This is a rare disease that mimics heart failure and, if it goes unattended or undiagnosed, it can be fatal,” Chaney remarked.

“It can affect the heart, nerves, and different tissues in the body. You have to get treatment and medication as soon as possible, and I speak with my cardiologist all of the time.”

The conference featured dynamic performances, including Doug E. Fresh, who performed an array of hits including “The Show,” and Cupid, who rocked out to “The Cupid Shuffle.”

Hitmaker and songstress Stephanie Mills performed “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” “The Power of Love,” and “I Feel Good (All Over),” while Miki Howard closed out the entertainment with hits like “Love Under New Management,” and “Come Share My Love.”

View the conference at

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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