A Celebration of Blacks in Media; Premiere€s Dramatic Film

WI Staff | 2/18/2010, 10:09 a.m.

The unveiling of the D.C. Lottery€s Annual Black History poster and the screening of a feature film that documents a segment of the African American civil rights struggle in North Carolina attracted an enthusiastic crowd to THE ARC in Southeast, Sat., Feb. 13. The two afternoon events created a perfect blend for a Black History Month celebration sponsored by The Washington Informer, the first of several special events the weekly newspaper plans to sponsor this year.

Guests mingled in the lobby of THE ARC, enjoyed a scrumptious soul food meal and chatted about the Blizzard of 2010 that shuttered the entire Washington area for more than a week. But their attention quickly turned from the ice and snow to a snapshot of history, often untold and rarely celebrated.

This year, the theme for the D.C. Lottery and Charitable Games Black history poster, Tell It Like It Is, proved fitting for several reasons. Since 1986, the Lottery Board has recognized the achievements of African Americans in numerous fields that include entertainment, sports, politics, business and the arts. This year, seven African Americans in the media are featured.

€This year€s poster is a snapshot of the full mosaic of Black Americans in media,€ said Athena Hernandez, D.C. Lottery chief of communications. The poster features Samuel E. Cornish and John B. Russworm, founders of Freedom€s Journal; Ida B. Wells, publisher and suffragette; Sam Lacy, sports writer; Max Robinson, the first African American TV news anchor; Cathy Hughes, owner of Radio One; and Dr. Calvin W. Rolark, founder of The Washington Informer.

€They paved the way for the people we see in the media who may not have held the positions we see them in today had it not been for these pioneers who dared to raise their voices and take a stand,€ Hernandez said.

Rolark€s daughter, Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of the Informer; along with his two grandsons, Lafayette, 24 and Desmond, 22, also participated in the unveiling.

Michelle Williams of Radio One, echoed Rolark Barnes€ appreciation for the recognition given to the founders of their respective media organizations. Williams talked about Cathy Hughes€ long walk to success. Williams said Hughes was turned down 32 times before she secured a loan to launch what has become the nation€s largest African American radio broadcasting empire.

€It was not easy for Ms. Hughes or any of the other people featured on this poster,€ Williams said.
Radio One mogul Cathy Hughes was denied a loan to launch WOL-AM, 32 times before someone said yes, explained General Manager Michelle Williams who, along with Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes (r) attended the D.C. Lottery's unveiling of the 2010 Black History poster on Sat., Feb. 13 at THE ARC in Southeast. Lottery official Athena Hernandez emceed. Photo by Victor Holt
The D.C. Lottery€s Black History Poster was first published in 1986. Twenty-five thousand copies are published annually and distributed without charge to District public schools, libraries and the general public.

Following the unveiling, Ron Burke, Washington Informer marketing director, invited guests to THE ARC€s 350-seat theater for the screening of Blood Done Sign My Name, a true story of the intense racial tension in Oxford, N.C., that led to the murder of a Black Vietnam veteran in 1970. The story also shows how Benjamin Chavis, a young school teacher who returns to his hometown, became a civil rights leader during the civil unrest that followed. Directed by Jeb Stewart, the film, adapted from a book written by author and African American scholar Tim Tyson, was released in theaters nationwide, Fri., Feb. 19.
€It was a wonderful afternoon,€ said Peggy Seats, founder of the Washington Interdependence Council.
€The poster is just beautiful and a befitting tribute to our pioneers of media, including the Washington Informer dynasty. The food was delicious, and the movie a living legacy of our struggle for justice and parity in America.€