A Celebration of the Black Press

Hazel Trice Edney | 3/11/2009, 8:52 p.m.

Black Press Week, the annual celebration of the birth of the Black Press of America, March 16, 1827, will salute America€s first family, celebrate civil rights champions and honor a political pioneer during its annual Newsmaker of the Year Award Dinner on Thurs., March 19.

€Black Press Week promises to be the most exciting ever,€ said Dorothy R. Leavell, chair of the NNPA Foundation. €The pride of our profession gladdens our hearts as we acknowledge the first African American president and replay the role of the Black Press over these 182 years.€
The top honoree is the Newsmaker of the Year, which will go to first family of President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Sasha and Malia. The awards reception and dinner will be held at The Fairfax at Embassy Row, a Luxury Collection Hotel. The Lifetime Achievement Award will go to civil rights icon the Rev. Joseph Lowery, co-founder and former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who rendered the benedictory prayer at the presidential inauguration.

Two Outstanding Community Service Awards will go to Xernona Clayton, president and CEO of The Trumpet Foundation, and the Rev. Al Sharpton, president and CEO of the National Action Network and radio talk show host.

A special Political Leadership Award will be given to U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who, as House majority whip, is an example of the €wisdom and influence that has been so closely intertwined with the Black Press over centuries of activism and accomplishment,€ said Leavell.

America€s first Black newspaper, Freedom€s Journal, was founded by Samuel Cornish and John B. Russwurm in 1827 in New York City.
During Black Press Week celebration, held this year from March 18-20, publishers from around the nation will also visit with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders in the spirit of the first editorial printed on the front page of the journal. It stated, €We wish to plead our own cause.
Too long have others spoken for us. Too long has the public been deceived by misrepresentations in things which concern us dearly.€

The publishers will also participate in an annual ceremony in the Browsing Room at Howard University, which houses Black Press archives and a shrine honoring deceased heroes and heroines of the Black Press.

€We are looking forward to our celebration of our founding in 1827 by Cornish and Russwurm and other distinguished Publishers of note, such as Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, The Murphys of Baltimore, Robert S. Abbott and John H. Sengstacke of Chicago, The Jervays of North Carolina, The Vanns of Pittsburgh, The Youngs of Virginia and Dr. Carlton Goodlett of California,€ Leavell said.

€They, and many, many more, understood the importance of the Black Press and sacrificed personal fortune to give a voice to the voiceless.€