Over 300 members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association including publishers, journalists and photographers converged on Washington, D. C. to celebrate Black Press Week, March 14-17, 2012. Following the tradition established by Messrs. Samuel Cornish and John B. Russwurm, the founders of the Black Press and publishers of Freedom’s Journal, the first Black newspaper in the Western World and members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) celebrated the important role of the Black Press in our communities.
On Thursday, March 15, the attendees boarded buses headed for the White House. Inside the South Court Auditorium, the audience was addressed by Kevin Lewis, Director of African American Media, Communications. Valerie Jarett, Senior Advisor to the President and Cloves Campbell, Chair, NNPA held a panel discussion on the accomplishments of this administration. President Obama addressed the audience on the importance of the Black Press. Marie Johns Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration and Dr. William Spriggs, Assistant Secretary on Policy Department of Labor addressed the audience. Heather Foster, Associate Director White House Office of Public Engagement moderated a panel discussion with Danielle Gray, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, Racquel Russell, Special Assistant to the President on Mobility and Opportunity Policy and Zakiya Smith, Senior Policy Advisor on Education.
Following the White House visit, the attendees then moved to the Press Club for State of the Black Press Luncheon and Roundtable. Roundtable participants included Moderator George Curry, Danny Bakewell, Sr., Bakewell Media; Len Burnette, Co- CEO & Group Publisher, Uptown Media Group; Londell McMillan Owner & Group Publisher Northstar Group; Rev. Jesse Jackson, Founder and President Rainbow Push Coalition, Marc Morial President & CEO National Urban League.
The Newsmaker Awards Banquet was held Thursday evening. Honorees included Ben Jealous, President & CEO, NAACP, Northstar Community Service Award. Mariann Wright Edelman received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Rep. Maxine Waters received the Political Leadership Award and Rev. Al Sharpton received the Newsmaker of the Year.
“As we move forward with our goal of having all our member publishers embrace a multi-platform communications medium, it is important to understand that we will continue to maintain our print presence. The Black news has been the voice of the Black community and has recorded our history as only we can”, stated NNPA Chairman, Cloves Campbell