By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
Rosetta Miller Perry said it’s vitally important that people recognize the significance of the Black Press and understand the role Black women have long played in its creation, evolution and preservation.
A retired U.S. Navy officer and lawyer by trade, Perry has found success over the past three decades as publisher of the Tennessee Tribune, an African-American newspaper that reaches more than 150,000 people each week.
Now, the Memphis State University graduate has earned a significant distinction from her peers in Memphis – Perry has been named among the Top 10 Most Powerful African Americans of 2018 by the Nashville Voice, a popular Music City publication.
“I feel blessed and privileged to be able to have some influence in this community and be an advocate for people and neighborhoods that have too long been overlooked, ignored and excluded,” said Perry, who said the honor has also meant more responsibility.
“It also means I must always be vigilant and aware of what’s happening not only in the city, but throughout the region and across the state, because there are folks depending on me for information, and expect me and the Tribune to voice their concerns and effectively highlight multiple issues that affect their lives,” Perry said.
The publication handed out the honors to those from various fields including to a councilwoman, a chairman of the board of a prominent bank, a bishop and a chamber of commerce chief.
The Nashville Voice noted the criteria for selection to the Top 10 list included individuals who have the capacity to move the needle or make a change; those who use their power to or are responsible for making big decisions to make lasting changes that impact the lives of local residents; those of superior character and are deeply respected by their peers in the community; and the individuals have made a career out of using their power and influence for the greater good of the urban community in Nashville.
“The Tribune has been fortunate enough to be around for decades and is now widely distributed in the state’s four largest cities. With that comes a degree of exposure, acceptance and recognition,” Perry said.
“So, to that extent I am not completely surprised my name appears in this survey. But I see it more as the realization of my goal of creating a publication that would have positive community impact, focus on the good things and accomplishments of North Nashville and the Black community, and combat the negative stereotypes and obsession with pathos and criminality that seems so dominant in some media portrayals and coverage.”
It’s vitally important people recognize the significance of the Black press, and understand the role Black women have long played in its creation, evolution and preservation, Perry said.
“While the term ‘elite’ in some ways is problematic because being part of that is not really a high priority, it is critical that the mainstream audience realize the Black press is still important, and still has a central role to play in the fight for social justice, equality and expanded economic opportunity for all citizens,” Perry said.
“I’m proud on a personal level to be recognized with people whom I’ve admired and/or worked alongside, and it’s always good to see the contributions of Black women leaders spotlighted by the mainstream press,” she said.
Raised in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania – a melting pot of Russians, Polish, Italians, Greeks, African-Americans and others – during an era when steel was an important part of American Manufacturing, Perry not only grew up near the Allegheny River, but spent her first four years on her aunt’s houseboat.
She’d become an avid reader of newspapers and magazines, particularly the Black Press where, since childhood, the Pittsburgh Courier was a personal favorite.
Perry said she noticed a trend in mainstream publishing towards sensationalism and a focus on crime and negative events, particularly as it related to Black people.
“I knew as a young Black woman it was something that could be corrected through ownership and control of our image, reporting and news coverage,” Perry said.
She and her husband, who counted as Tennessee’s first Black gastroenterologist, founded Perry and Perry Associates in 1990.
After founding the Tribune to focus primarily on health, education and voter registration, Perry and her husband made a conscious decision not to spotlight crime, and to report positive events and focus on success stories and personalities in the Black community.
They did so without ignoring either the problems or the tough issues that minority communities face each day.
Perry said she’s sees the Nashville Voice’s honor as “more as the realization of my goal of creating a publication that would have positive community impact, focus on the good things and accomplishments of North Nashville and the Black community, and combat the negative stereotypes and obsession with pathos and criminality that seems so dominant in some media portrayals and coverage.”
“However, my day-to-day job doesn’t dwell or focus on being in the spotlight or being part of the elite,” she said.
“It remains making sure that the Tribune is covering the key stories, personalities and events that affect our readership, and doing it in a way that encourages and motivates others to keep fighting for positive change and the greater good.”