By Rosetta Miller Perry
NASHVILLE, TN — Karen Carter Richards, CEO and Publisher of the Houston Forward Times, is running for the chairmanship of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the country’s largest Black Press advocacy group with more than 200 newspapers. Richards has a long and distinguished journalistic career, and is last year’s winner of the NNPA Publisher of the Year award.
Under her leadership since 2010, the Forward Times is able to compete with two other mainstream Houston dailies.
She has also maintained a family tradition dating back to 1960, when her father, Julius P. Carter, founded the Houston Forward Times. He saw a need for a newspaper dedicated to covering issues and personalities being ignored by the mainstream press. After his death, her mother Lenora “Doll” Carter took over, with Richards working alongside her, a partnership that continued over three decades. The family ties remain strong today, as her oldest daughter Chelsea is the paper’s general manager, and her youngest Nykayla, is its social media editor.
Richards is the NNPA’s current first vice chair, and has always publicly expressed her dedication and devotion to the the Black Press. “The Black Press has always been and will continue to be relevant,” she said in a recent NNPA release. “We are the voice, the true voice of our people. We have recorded our history for 191 years like no other media could ever do. We have recorded many stories…our celebrations, our injustices and those hidden, treasured stories that came from our communities that we have always found value in.”
A Houston native, having two parents immersed in journalism had a dynamic impact on Richards. She was delivering papers as a seven-year-old, riding her bicycle through her neighborhood.
She’s called her father “a visionary,” and stressed his desire to celebrate and highlight the positive things happening in Houston’s Black community as well as documenting problems, ills, and systemic abuses and injustices. He exposed her to numerous things from politics to the arts, fashion, business and commerce, which prepared her for her current role.
Likewise, her mother worked alongside her father, and upon his death took over the operation. Richards began working full-time at the Forward Times in 1983, and credits her mother with teaching her everything about the paper from the business and technical ends, whether it was writing, design, sales or distribution. When her mother passed in April of 2010, Richards was more than ready to assume a leadership role, one that’s seen her make the Forward Times a rare Black weekly newspaper, and an outlet that’s growing and expanding in an era when print properties are shrinking or disappearing.
One example of the paper’s outreach under Richards was the creation of the Julius and Lenora Carter Scholarship & Youth Foundation, which benefits low-to-moderate income Houston high school seniors and college students interested in various areas of journalism. Since its formation in 2010, the Foundation has provided internships to high school and college student in order to prepare them for careers in their prospective fields of study, through practical learning experiences in Journalism, Printing, Broadcasting and Digital Communications.
In her role as NNPA First Vice Chair, Richards was recently selected as an inaugural member of the International Women’s Forum (I.W.F.) – the Houston Chapter. The International Women’s Forum is a singularly unique organization comprised of more than 6,000 dynamic women leaders in thirty-three countries and seventy-four forums around the world. She served as Chairperson of “Go Red Girlfriend,” an African American Awareness Initiative for the American Heart Association. She’s also a recipient of the National Council of Negro Women’s Mary McLeod Bethune Impact Service Award. Numerous women, youth, senior citizens, community organizations, businesses and churches have benefited from her overall dedication, support and training.
Richards was also honored by the Texas Executive Women (TEW), an organization consisting of powerful and successful woman executives from various professions and industries in Houston, as one of their Women on the Move in 2016. Upon receiving her award Richards said publicly, “Although I am humbled by the things that we have accomplished, my pride comes in continuing the legacy of my parents,” said Karen. “They instilled in me a pride and commitment to our community. That is what they expected and it is the mandate that they left me to carry on. I am very proud that we celebrate more than 56 years in business.”
Now, as the Houston Forward Times enjoys celebrating 60 years in business, Karen Carter Richards aims to bring those same qualities of forthright self-awareness – decisiveness – the ability to make decisions quickly. fairness – treating others equally, enthusiasm – motivating a team with a positive attitude, integrity – earning the respect of team knowledge – keeping abreast of the facts and figures.and imaginative thinking to the position of NNPA chairman.
This article originally appeared in The Tennessee Tribune.