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195 Years of the Black Press: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade association of the 230-plus Black-owned newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America, is poised to observe the 195th anniversary of the birth of Freedom’s Journal and the Black Press.

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The NNPA’s convention and the celebration of the 195th anniversary of the Black Press is open to the public. For great hotel rates and tickets to some of the signature events at the convention, visit https://www.nnpa-events.com/
The NNPA’s convention and the celebration of the 195th anniversary of the Black Press is open to the public. For great hotel rates and tickets to some of the signature events at the convention, visit https://www.nnpa-events.com/

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Part 1 in a series.

As America grapples with its age-old racism problem, mass shootings, unprecedented political dysfunction, police brutality, misinformation, and the ongoing attacks on voting and other fundamental rights, continue to dominate news headlines.

However, the Black Press has remained the trusted voice for news in the African American community — and beyond.

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade association of the 230-plus Black-owned newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America, is poised to observe the 195th anniversary of the birth of Freedom’s Journal and the Black Press.

An informative and entertaining convention kicks off at the Hilton Riverside Hotel on June 22 in New Orleans with the theme, “195 Years of the Black Press: Amplifying our Voices for Freedom, Justice, Equality, and Equity.”

NNPA Newswire has embarked on a four-part series featuring some of its most dedicated consumers ahead of the convention.

Readers and consumers will share why the Black Press remains vital after 195 years during the series.

They will also offer perspectives on what they’d like to see from the Black Press as we advance and what they appreciate most about the Black Press.

In the series finale, they will explain what distinguishes the Black Press from mainstream media.

Many of the millions of subscribers to NNPA member newspapers, websites, and social media channels, have extolled the importance of the Black Press.

“For a people whose vast numbers could not read in 1827, words on paper were manna from heaven,” stated David Youngblood, who regularly opens up YouTube and Facebook to watch the NNPA’s daily morning show, “Let It Be Known.”

“The Black Press provided that sustenance. That ‘news’ passed from print to mouth to ear across the country. The Black Press did and still does connect us. The Black Press has continually kept us informed,” Youngblood asserted.

He’s not alone.

“In the words of a great man, ‘The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and make the guilty innocent,’” Jacoby Jelks, an artist previously featured in the Black Press, stated.

“With such great power, it’s imperative that the Black community control the narrative of what and how we would like to be perceived by other races and ethnicities and not allow our stories to be cemented by those who may not have shared in the Black American experience.”

Jelks continued:

“History has proven that it could be detrimental and dangerous. The significance of the Black Press of America is that it provides us the opportunity for our voices to be heard in a world that is mainly controlled by mainstream media.”

Michelle Madison, who also counts among the loyal viewers of “Let It Be Known,” called the Black Press crucial to the survival of African Americans.

“Not only is it needed to counteract a mirage of negative stereotypes, but it serves as a vehicle to help Black businesses thrive,” Madison wrote in an email.

“Unfortunately, the Black community is often subjected to one-sided opinions and news from white and other counterparts. As a result, there is a void in newsworthy issues that the Black Press can only address,” she wrote.

Joni King offered that she sees the Black Press thriving and growing even after 195 years.

“I appreciate the dedication that has contributed and imperative to the success of the Black Press,” King stated.

“The Black Press is admirable through hard work and dedication that guarantees the continued success, and, to me, that distinguishes the Black Press from mainstream media.”

At a time when the Black voice was suppressed and silenced, having news stories and features that represented African Americans not only provided a sense of community, but hope, insisted Ashley M. King.

“African Americans were now in a position of ownership. Able to own and control the media’s narrative and use their voice to speak against injustices,” King said.

“African Americans could utilize their gifts and talents beyond the cotton field to voice their struggle.”

Chenadra Washington, the principal at Washington International LLC, called the observance of the Black Press’ 195th anniversary “huge.”

“For me, it’s not only the fact that Black Press America was founded during slavery, but also the fact that it is still standing today,” Washington remarked.

“That’s pure resiliency. As a recently transitioned entrepreneur, I often think about the courage of my ancestors and the sheer determination to build. Knowing that this was founded in 1827 and still serving and bringing value today makes me beam with pride and helps me stay the course.”

The NNPA’s convention and the celebration of the 195th anniversary of the Black Press is open to the public. For great hotel rates and tickets to some of the signature events at the convention, visit https://www.nnpa-events.com/

A Little About Me: I'm the co-author of Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula Hardaway and her son, Stevie Wonder (Simon & Schuster) and Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask, An Insider's Account of the King of Pop (Select Books Publishing, Inc.) My work can often be found in the Washington Informer, Baltimore Times, Philadelphia Tribune, Pocono Record, the New York Post, and Black Press USA.

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