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Unity-1 on the Road to Rebuilding

NEW ORLEANS DATA NEWS WEEKLY — On March 20th NOPD officers were in pursuit of what they believed was a car that was stolen. As officers became disengaged the car sped away and tragedy arose as the car crashed into Unity One Beauty Salon, causing a three alarm fire that left the iconic Broadmoor business building engulfed in flames leaving it presently inoperable. Also three lives were lost, the two young men in the vehicle and one women inside the salon who later succumbed to burns sustained in the fire.

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Photo by: ladatanews.com

By Edwin Buggage

On March 20th NOPD officers were in pursuit of what they believed was a car that was stolen. As officers became disengaged the car sped away and tragedy arose as the car crashed into Unity One Beauty Salon, causing a three alarm fire that left the iconic Broadmoor business building engulfed in flames leaving it presently inoperable. Also three lives were lost, the two young men in the vehicle and one women inside the salon who later succumbed to burns sustained in the fire.

After the fire an outpouring of support came from all over the city, state and nation regarding the rebuilding of what has become an institution in the African-American community. Data News Weekly spoke with Beverly Smith DPC (Doctor of Professional Cosmetology) who owns the business with her husband John Smith, who founded the business in 1981.

Unity One Trailblazer in Black Haircare Industry in New Orleans

As we is known the Black Haircare industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and was traditionally where Black Entrepreneurs could find support from the black community and build wealth. Today while there are still businesses like Unity-One that is Black Owned many have gone out of business.

But Beverly Smith is determined to continue the legacy they have built as they are on the road to rebuild their business.

“We are a family business that began in 1981 by my husband John Smith. I met him in 1982 and began working with him building our business that at one point had five locations and was the number one distributor of black hair care products in the Southeast region,” states Ms. Beverly, a name many have come to know her by in the community.

Continuing talking about the business she says, “We provide professional products to serve professionals in hair care industry the general public. We also have a salon as well. Beauty industry from all over the city gone on and started their own salon. We have been an incubator in the community for beauty professionals.”

Community Comes Together to Support Rebuilding Effort

Speaking of their contribution and the beginning stages of their rebuilding she says, “We are reaching out for resources. We have spoken to Mayor Cantrell and our City Councilman Jay Banks for support. We are a historic business with ties in the community and we plan on rebuilding bigger and better,” Ms. Beverly says with confidence and optimism ringing in her voice.

Speaking of their impact in the community she says, “We have helped the homeless to help transition to permanent housing. We offer training them how to run a business and grow. We have a product as well. Umoja Visions we employ people to work with the product line. Learn how to become entrepreneurs.”

Recently, the Bronner Brother Hair International Beauty Show came to New Orleans. There was an outpouring of support for Unity One and its rebuilding. Speaking of when they were present a check for 10,000 dollars presented to them during an event Smith says, “Bronner Brother brought us on the main stage talked about our tragedy and asked everyone to support us and James and Jessica Bronner gave us a check to start restoration and renovations.”

Locally, fundraisers are also being held to help. Recently, at Bertha’s Place, a local bar held a fundraiser that was well attended with an outpouring of support. “We had DJ Captain Charles there, someone we have known for a long time. He lives in our neighborhood we have done many things for us. Bertha, is someone we have known her for a long time. We started our business around the same time. She is just like family.

Deborah planned and organized the party to assist with us getting some things for our immediate needs.”

They’re both opening their businesses is not the only thing they have in common; recently, Bertha’s Place was also damaged by fire. But today Bertha’s is in a new location and is going stronger than ever with the community continuing to support her. This is something that encourages Ms. Beverly, feeling their family business will travel down a similar path. “It touched her heart because she also had a fire to her business. It touched her heart, she said I understand your pain and if I can do anything to help. Love and prayers is phenomenal. It something to keep us motivated and moving toward rebuilding our business. People really care.”

Also closer to home in Broadmoor where their business is located neighboring business are pitching in to help, “Propeller, a business accelerator that works with small businesses is definitely reaching out. They have been very supportive and will be doing a fundraiser on April 15. I have also talked to Kathleen Rhodes of Rhodes Funeral home and they said they are willing to help in any way possible.”

The Value of Life

All lives matter and in this tragedy three lives were lost. With compassion and care in her voice she says, “I talked to one of the boy’s mother and the other one’s grandmother and I gave them my condolences. We were there to support them with their prayer vigil.” Speaking of the young lady who lost her life she says, “Ms. Shawan, was one of our customers. We all went to her funeral and supported them. I remember seeing her coming in the salon. She was a very quiet lady; she didn’t say much. Monica Scott would do her hair who is one of the salon managers. I remember her just loving being in the environment and my heart goes out to her family and her son Anthony who also use to come and get his haircuts and line ups.”

The Continuing Importance of Black Owned Businesses and Unity in the Community

In post Katrina New Orleans with its many changes; the importance of Black Institutions, business and cultural footprint is essential. Speak of the future of her business and other Black Businesses she says, “Being Black owned business is sometimes a challenge; oftentimes we do not get the funding and support we need. But I feel there has been an upside to it as well, being a role model for the community,” Smith says proudly.

“We have young people who are now adults say they watched us and because of our example wanted to become a business owner. We give a lot of hope and encouragement that you can become a business owner. The community is proud of what we’ve become and we’ve inspired them.”

For those who know of all they have given back, it is now time for them to be on the receiving end as an outpouring of love and support is there as Unity One is on the road to rebuild. “Unity means coming together as one. We need to unite and be on one accord. Whenever there is someone in need. The community can come together to help together we can stand but divided we will fall. Together we can accomplish more. The whole city, not just Broadmoor.”

This article originally appeared in the New Orleans Data News Weekly

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#NNPA BlackPress

Former NNPA Chairs Talk Yesterday, Today and the Future

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Whether it’s taking a stand for the Double V campaign during World War II; marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement; or fighting to have a voice in the White House in more recent times, NNPA’s board chairpersons’ responsibilities have historically gone far beyond any standard business definitions.

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Former Chairpersons of the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s Board of Directors (left to right): “Sonny” Messiah Jiles, the CEO of the Houston Defender Media Group; Danny Bakewell, Sr., publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel; Cloves Campbell, publisher of the Arizona Informant; and Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of the Washington Informer.
Former Chairpersons of the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s Board of Directors (left to right): “Sonny” Messiah Jiles, the CEO of the Houston Defender Media Group; Danny Bakewell, Sr., publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel; Cloves Campbell, publisher of the Arizona Informant; and Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of the Washington Informer.

Part One in a series, as the NNPA prepares to Celebrate 80Years as the Voice of Black America

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The role of chairman of the board in any organization comes with responsibilities that require for the broadest of shoulders.

According to a definition found at bizfluent, a board’s chairperson is the person who serves as the senior representative of the shareholders and is responsible for upholding their interests.

However, whether it was taking a stand for the Double V campaign during World War II; marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement; or fighting to have a voice in the White House in more recent times, NNPA’s board chairpersons’ responsibilities have historically gone far beyond any standard business definitions.

“As NNPA chair, it is important to have integrity, build consensus, listen to different points of view, be a communicator, take the initiative, and possess the foresight to think where the puck will be –not where it is now — and act accordingly,” said Sonceria “Sonny” Messiah Jiles, the CEO of the Houston Defender Media Group and a former NNPA chair.

“The experience of being a NNPA chair was both rewarding and trying because I took office when the organization was transitioning from a combined operation into two independent organizations, [the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation]” Jiles said.

Jiles, who was elected chair in mid-2003 and served through mid-2005, said the high points of her tenure included securing the first $4.1 million buy from Home Depot for NNPA members; cleaning up and aligning the organization’s operational systems in accordance with Sarbanes Oxley; and establishing convention sponsorship packages covering two-three year periods, that ensured revenue continuity.

“The biggest challenge of the NNPA chair is to generate revenue for both small- and large-market newspapers, create products and services that benefit the membership’s bottom line and building a consensus when there are so many personal or hidden agendas,” Jiles said.

Danny Bakewell, Sr., the publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel who chaired the NNPA from 2009 to 2011, said it was an honor to serve his fellow publishers and lead the organization through various changes in the media landscape.

“My publishers knew of my activism and [at the time I was elected], it was a good time in my life, and I decided to give it I shot,” Bakewell said.

“When I came in, there was basically no infrastructure, so I’ve got to be chairman and CEO and I’ve got to make decisions to make this thing work,” he said.

Bakewell said he created a plan on how to create partnerships in which the goal was to get five partners that would agree to three- or five-year commitments that would bring in significant revenue for the NNPA.

“It meant that we weren’t begging because we knew we had money coming in and I established a policy that we’d go out and raise money for every event knowing that we already had money,” Bakewell said.

“The real glue that made my administration successful was getting full-page ads at least once a quarter for my publishers and organizations like General Motors really gave us solid commitments and we still have them today,” he said.

As chair, Bakewell said one should never lose sight of the mission of the Black Press of America, which is to speak for the voiceless and champion the powerless.

“We put together a report when I was the chair that showed we were talking to 19.5 million black people every week, that’s powerful,” Bakewell said.

He said there were many who wanted him to remain as chair, but he leaned on an important motto learned long ago: “Good leadership knows when to come, it knows what to do and it knows when to go,” said Bakewell, who in 2010 enjoyed a historic visit to the White House where he met with then-presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett to make sure – among other things – that the NNPA was in a position to cover President Barack Obama’s administration.

Following Bakewell, Arizona Informant publisher Cloves Campbell won election as NNPA chair.

Campbell, who led the organization with a strategy that included collaborating with other organizations, forming new partnerships and inviting a new generation of readers into the Black Press, served two terms concluding in 2015.

“It was an honor to serve the NNPA, which has such a rich history and it represents an important part of black history,” Campbell said.

When Campbell began, he said the NNPA had virtually no digital presence, but he’s noticed most recently the evolution of the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com where hundreds of thousands of unique visitors come for information daily.

“Now it’s at a level where the world knows about it,” Campbell said.

As chair, Campbell said an important aspect of his duties were to work closely with the then newly-hired NNPA president and CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

“It’s important because the president is the spokesperson for your organization. I remember our first president, Bill Thompson, was a different type of person, but we were real fortunate to be able to select an excellent leader in Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. Dr. Chavis, with a civil rights background, has what we were looking for in that premiere position,” Campbell said.

“Chavis is one who commands an audience and not only commands the respect from the community in the United States, but worldwide,” he said.

Washington Informer publisher, Denise Rolark Barnes, who served as NNPA chair from 2015 to 2017, echoed Campbell’s comments on the importance of the chair and president working in harmony for the good of the organization.

“As your board, we are a legal entity, and to me, we should have a chairman of the board who shares the same vision as the leader of the organization and the person that we’ve hired to lead and to be the spokesperson for the organization,” Rolark Barnes said.

“As long as you are in lockstep, there’s so much more you can accomplish for the organization,” she said.

Rolark Barnes recalled a time when the NNPA didn’t have the resources to operate in the manner it currently does, but she said the organization always had an executive director or a president – a set-up that’s required under law for any nonprofit.

“When you have someone in that position with the title of president who’s respected, who has an ability to connect with organizations, that’s important because we on the board cannot do that… we have to maintain our legal status,” Rolark Barnes said.

During her tenure, Rolark Barnes said she understood that there would be times when the board would dictate what the chair would do, but it’s the president who leads based on what the board has instructed.

“Members have to have leadership that works hard on their behalf and works together. You have to listen to your membership and strive to work together because that’s what makes for a stronger organization,” she said.

Two years after her tenure, Rolark Barnes remains very much involved on the board.

She said she decided to run for chair after attending board meetings, taking copious notes and realizing that she could help the organization.

“It became crystal clear to me what I could do to lead the organization beyond stagnation into a new era of solvency, productivity, and resiliency,” Rolark Barnes said.

“I was incredibly proud to serve alongside a progressive-thinking executive committee and a board that supported, and sometimes challenged, our decisions,” she said.

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NNPA Publishers Honor Marjorie Parham, a Living Legend of the Black Press

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Parham, who turned 101 in February, spent more than three decades as publisher of the Cincinnati Herald, which was established in 1955 and counts as the longest running African American newspaper in the city.

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Active in the Urban League, the American Red Cross and various scouting groups, Parham also was known for her work as a member of NNPA where she served on the organization’s board as treasurer.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) honored Majorie B. Parham with the organization’s Legacy Award during its annual convention in Cincinnati on Friday, June 29.

The NNPA is a trade association that represents African American-owned newspapers and media companies in the United States.

Parham, who turned 101 in February, spent more than three decades as publisher of the Cincinnati Herald, which was established in 1955 and counts as the longest running African American newspaper in the city.

“She was a real radical,” said Dorothy Leavell, the publisher of the Chicago and Gary Crusader newspapers. “Marjorie Parham was something else and she was straight forward with her words and you didn’t have to guess what she meant … she made it very clear. She is a wonderful human being and she was a great asset to the Black Press of America,” Leavell said.

Parham was unable to attend the ceremony but was represented by the husband of her granddaughter Rhonda Spillers, and Parham was feted with proclamations and commendations from Ohio State Sen. Cecil Thomas, State Reps. Sedrick Denson and Catherine Ingram; Cincinnati City Councilman Wendell Young; and Hamilton County Commissioner Stephanie Dumas.

Former Ohio State Sen. Eric Kearney served as master of ceremonies and co-chair of the convention.

Kearney’s wife, Cincinnati Herald Publisher Jan Michele Lemon Kearney, served as the host for the annual convention which this year celebrates 192 years of the Black Press of America.

The convention’s partner and sponsors included Macy’s; AARP; Procter & Gamble; Ford; General Motors; Chevrolet; RAI American Services Company; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; American Petroleum Institute (API); Volkswagen; MillerCoors; Fifth Third Bank; Ascension; AmeriHealth Carita; Wells Fargo; and Pfizer Rare Disease.

Born in 1918 in Clement County, Ohio, Parham graduated from Batavia High School and attended Wilberforce University, a Historically Black College, according to her bio.

Later, she took classes at the University of Cincinnati before working as a clerk for the U.S. Veterans Administration.

In 1954, Parham married Gerald Porter and one year later he founded the Cincinnati Herald.

Within six years, Parham would retire from the Veterans Administration and take over as publisher of the Dayton Tribune, which her son ran until he was drafted in the military, her bio said.

In 1963, Parham also became publisher of the Cincinnati Herald, where she became a legend and often noted for her work at the newspaper and in the community through her involvement in numerous civic organizations.

In 1982, Parham became the second African American to serve as a trustee for the University of Cincinnati, and she also chaired the board of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio.

Active in the Urban League, the American Red Cross and various scouting groups, Parham also was known for her work as a member of NNPA where she served on the organization’s board as treasurer.

“I know [NNPA leadership] will continue their high standards of excellence,” Denson said.

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Cincinnati’s First Black Female Juvenile Court Judge Faces Jail Time After Sham Trial Exposes Racism, Cronyism and Corruption

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Tracie Hunter, Cincinnati’s first African-American female Juvenile Court Judge in Hamilton County’s 110-year history, who’s also a church pastor in Cincinnati, remains buoyed by the support of so many including The Coalition for a Just Hamilton County which is composed of members from the Interdenominational Ministry Alliance; the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP; the local chapter of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network; the Black United Front; the Southern Christian Leadership Council; the Nation of Islam and others.

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“The judge refused a motion for a retrial after he refused to poll the jury, in clear violation of the law and at the request of my attorney,” Tracie Hunter told NNPA Newswire during the annual National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) annual convention in Cincinnati.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Cincinnati, the third largest city in Ohio, sits on a hilly landscape along the Ohio River at the Kentucky border just opposite Covington and Newport.

It’s ice cold temperatures during the winter is only surpassed by the cold-blooded racial history of the Queen City.

Nearly 20 years after a race riot wreaked destruction downtown and many of the city’s already worn neighborhoods, the City Council called for a study to identify practices that might contribute to institutional racism.

What they haven’t addressed is the travesty of a racially- and politically-motivated conviction of Tracie Hunter, Cincinnati’s first African-American female Juvenile Court Judge in Hamilton County’s 110-year history.

Hunter was also the first Democrat to serve in that capacity.

However, on July 22, Hunter is scheduled to begin a six-month jail sentence.

She was convicted for “securing a public contract” – she says that she still doesn’t know what that means.

Shockingly, the jury was mostly comprised of wives of her political foes, and friends, attorneys and neighbors of the prosecutor.

One juror worked for WCPO Television, a station that has filed numerous lawsuits against Hunter.

Another juror was a lawyer who worked at the firm that represented WCPO.

Court documents revealed that the jury foreman contributed $500 to state Sen. Bill Seitz, the father of county jury coordinator Brad Seitz, who was responsible for compiling the panel of jurors.

Three black jurors, none of whom had known ties to prosecutors and all of whom held out for acquittal, ultimately succumbed to pressure by other panelists and a judge who refused to allow defense lawyers to poll the jury after announcing the verdict.

In all American trials, particularly those that end in guilty verdicts, it’s the right of attorneys to request the judge to poll all 12 jurors to ensure each were in agreement with the verdict.

“The judge refused a motion for a retrial after he refused to poll the jury, in clear violation of the law and at the request of my attorney,” Hunter told NNPA Newswire during the annual National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) annual convention in Cincinnati.

Hunter was joined by a large group of supporters sporting black T-shirts imprinted with the logo, “Justice for Judge Tracie Hunter.”

“At the close of the trial, three jurors came forward and said that their finding was ‘not guilty’ and if Judge Norbert Nadel had polled the jury, they would have said so,” Hunter said.

After being convicted on one of 10 counts filed against her, Hunter lost her appeal.

However, she and her supporters were quick to point out that the judge presiding over the appeal was none other than Prosecutor Joe Deters’ mother-in-law, Judge Sylvia Hendon.

Representatives for Deters and Hendon declined to comment to NNPA Newswire.

Hunter, who earned her undergraduate degree from Miami University in 1988 and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1992, won election in 2010, stunning the Republican-led city by defeating GOP contender John Williams.

Williams and the GOP contested Hunter’s victory and a heated court battle and numerous appeals by the Hamilton County Board of Elections which refused to count more than 800 votes from majority Democrat and Black precincts, ensued.

Hunter then filed a federal lawsuit to have those voted counted.

While the court finally ordered those votes to be counted, election officials still certified Williams as the victor.

However, once the votes were counted, the election was overturned in Hunter’s favor.

The 18-month period proved pivotal because then-Gov. John Kasich appointed Williams to the bench and the state Supreme Court changed the rules giving Williams administrative authority over the court.

As the senior judge and the only one elected, Hunter would have received the position of administrative judge.

Still, Hunter worked behind the bench to protect the rights of children including refusing to allow their names and faces to appear in news coverage.

Among other things, she instilled a system that focused on rehabilitation instead of incarceration.

Hunter mandated prosecutors turn over all critical evidence to defense lawyers.

Tracie Hunter, Cincinnati’s first African-American female Juvenile Court Judge in Hamilton County’s 110-year history, who’s also a church pastor in Cincinnati, is surrounded by member publishers of the Black Press of America during the National Newspaper Publishers Association 2019 Annual Convention’s Welcome Reception on June 26 in Cincinnati, OH.

Tracie Hunter, Cincinnati’s first African-American female Juvenile Court Judge in Hamilton County’s 110-year history, who’s also a church pastor in Cincinnati, is surrounded by member publishers of the Black Press of America during the National Newspaper Publishers Association 2019 Annual Convention’s Welcome Reception on June 26 in Cincinnati, OH.

She forced juvenile court to change its entire reporting system; outlawed the routine shackling of juveniles in her courtroom; exposed that juvenile case statistics were being inaccurately reported and falsified to the Ohio Supreme Court; hired African Americans in key positions; reduced default judgments; and spearheaded the change of state election laws which paved the way for ex-felons to vote.

“I also bought in people from outside of Cincinnati who affirmed that shielding these 12-year-old kids faces and preventing their names from being in the media helped to reduce any chance that they’d have a repeat run-in with law enforcement,” Hunter said.

However, the Cincinnati Enquirer and WCPO Television joined Republican county officials in the prosecutors’ and commissioners’ offices in lawsuits challenging Hunter.

“They filed 30 lawsuits in less than 9 months that I was on the bench,” Hunter said.

After serving just 18 months, her enemies found a way to silence her and end her career.

Hunter was charged with theft for using her judicial credit card to appeal the lawsuits filed against her by Deters, the prosecutor.

Now, with her law license suspended and having exhausted any savings and appeals, Hunter is facing jail.

Further frustrating is that Hunter is the lone caregiver to her ailing and aging mother.

Hunter, who’s also a church pastor in Cincinnati, remains buoyed by the support of so many including The Coalition for a Just Hamilton County which is composed of members from the Interdenominational Ministry Alliance; the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP; the local chapter of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network; the Black United Front; the Southern Christian Leadership Council; the Nation of Islam and others.

“They’ve tried to stop me from telling my truth and all I have is my truth,” she said, noting that she’s mostly refrained from giving interviews because the local media has only used sound bites to try and embarrass her.

“I’ve lost hope in the justice system which is why I became a judge in the first place,” Hunter said. “I’ve not lost faith in God even though they’ve tried to drive me out of this city even with what the Ku Klux Klan did,” she said, alluding to when the hooded racist group threatened 12-year-olds and their families in front of North College Hill Elementary School after Hunter ruled that their faces and names couldn’t be used in the media.

“There is so much racism, so much nepotism and so much cronyism here in Cincinnati but I just hold on to the belief that the truth shall set you free and I will continue to stand on the truth,” she said.

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Same Spirit. Same Mission. New Vision.

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Karen is a native Houstonian and is the CEO and Publisher of Houston Forward Times, the South’s largest independently-owned and published newspaper. Her parents always stressed the importance of the Black Press to her, and the value of sustaining its consistent voice.

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Karen expressed her excitement about the future of the NNPA, stating her eagerness to work with her fellow colleagues to move the organization forward, and make sure the organization is in a better position to strengthen all of its member publishers and their respective newspapers.

Karen Carter Richards, Newly Elected Chair of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, Shares Her Vision for the “Original Black Press” of America

By Jeffrey L. Boney, NNPA Newswire Contributor

“You down with O.B.P.? Yeah, you know me!”

That was the chant being sang by many people, as they attended the recent Annual Meeting of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), in support of the newly-elected chair of the NNPA, Ms. Karen Carter Richards, publisher of the Houston Forward Times.

Carter Richards was overwhelmingly elected as the new chair of the NNPA in a landslide victory, garnering 78 percent of the vote from her peers.

Running on a theme of “Same Spirit. Same Mission. New Vision.”, Carter Richards emphasized throughout her campaign the importance of the NNPA being fully recognized and identified as the “Original Black Press” of America. Her focus was to build on the foundational and historical standards that have helped the NNPA and its members make a significant impact in this country since its inception, while also strengthening every NNPA member publication to make even more of an impact during the challenging social and political climate in this country.

“I’m a second-generation publisher and my family has been a part of the NNPA for over 50 years,” said Carter Richards during her acceptance speech at the NNPA Annual Convention that was held in Cincinnati, Ohio this past week. “It’s time for a NEW VISION and leadership that goes beyond where we used to be.  We are the Black Press of America, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, so when I ask are you down with O.B.P., I am talking about letting people know that we are the ORIGINAL BLACK PRESS, and we aren’t going anywhere!”

The NNPA, a trade organization which represents over 200 Black-owned media companies across the United States, is celebrating 79 years of existence this year, while the Black Press of America is celebrating 192 years since Freedom’s Journal was published as the first Black newspaper in this country in 1827.

Karen is a native Houstonian and is the CEO and Publisher of Houston Forward Times, the South’s largest independently-owned and published newspaper. Her parents always stressed the importance of the Black Press to her, and the value of sustaining its consistent voice.

At the age of seven, Karen’s father, Houston Forward Times founder Julius Carter, put a basket on her bicycle and had her delivering the newspaper in her neighborhood.

As part of her father’s foresight, Karen was exposed to a world of politics, culture and business, which had a lasting impact on her emotional growth and professional development, allowing her to develop a strong work ethic and a sense of timeliness at an early age.

Karen was often told by her mother, and eventual Houston Forward Times publisher Lenora “Doll” Carter, that her father would often say to her that if he died on a Monday, be sure to bury him on that Tuesday and get the paper out.

For Karen, those prophetic words from her father came true, and impacted her family and business on two separate occasions. In 1971, the Houston Forward Times reported a story that subsequently led to their building being bombed. From all of the pressure, Julius Carter died of a massive heart attack four days later. In honoring her husband’s wishes, “Doll” Carter did not miss the next issue and immediately took over the reins of the Houston Forward Times in 1971.

Karen states that her mother was like a drill sergeant, making her arrive early and stay late. She had to learn everything from the front door to the back door, and at the time, she did not realize that “Doll” Carter was preparing her and grooming her for one of the most devastating events in her life.  As a result of a massive heart attack on April 10, 2010, “Doll” Carter unexpectedly passed away and just like her mother, Karen had to take over the daily operations of the Houston Forward Times without a traditional transition of power.

Upon taking the mantle, Karen immediately turned the Houston Forward Times into a multi-media powerhouse that continues to remain one of the strongest and most trusted voices for African Americans in the Greater Houston area.

Karen believes the challenges and the adversity she faced as a newly minted publisher, coupled with the things she has learned from being around her fellow NNPA Publishers, have prepared her for her new role as the newly elected chair of the NNPA.

“I’m a Publisher,” said Carter Richards.  “After my mother unexpectedly passed away in 2010 and our Editor of 40 years passed away two (2) months after her, I was faced with the responsibility of taking a challenging situation and making it work. I knew it would be hard, but I was up for the challenge. Ten (10) years later, the Forward Times still stands strong and I stand even stronger because of what my parents taught me and because of what I learned from the NNPA publishers. The publishers are my first priority. We must educate, equip and empower all of our NNPA Publishers so they can make an even greater impact in their respective markets.”

Karen will be working with an all-women Executive Board to begin her tenure as NNPA Chair, with Janis Ware (The Atlanta Voice) being elected as First Vice-Chair, Fran Farrer (The County News) as Second Vice-Chair, Brenda H. Edwards (New Journal and Guide) as Treasurer and Jackie Hampton (The Mississippi Link) as Secretary.

Karen expressed her excitement about the future of the NNPA, stating her eagerness to work with her fellow colleagues to move the organization forward, and make sure the organization is in a better position to strengthen all of its member publishers and their respective newspapers.

Some of her top priorities as chair of the NNPA include:

  • Educate, Equip and Empower the publishers with the tools to make it easier for them and their sales teams to talk with advertisers and make their newspapers more attractive, not only nationally, but in local markets as well
  • Developing a nationwide marketing campaign to highlight every NNPA member newspaper in their respective markets
  • Create an Editorial Committee to collectively take on issues that are affecting the Black community across the country

Carter Richards states that there are many more initiatives that she hopes to work with her colleagues to implement, but really wants to focus on doing some immediate things that will help all NNPA member publishers – short and long term.

Jeffrey Boney is a political analyst and frequent contributor for the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com and the associate editor for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is an award-winning journalist, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur and business development strategist. Follow Jeffrey on Twitter @realtalkjunkies.

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NNPA Hosts ESSA National Black Parents Town Hall in Cincinnati

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Hosted by Radio One’s Lincoln Ware (third from left), the town hall’s panelists included (left to right): Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) Superintendent Laura Mitchell; NNPA National Chairman Dorothy R. Leavell; Lincoln Ware; NAACP Education Chair Treigg Turner; Cincinnati’s Pre-School Promise executive Vanessa White; NNPA ESSA Awareness Campaign program director Dr. Elizabeth Primas; and NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. and State Senator Cecil Thomas.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), in partnership with the Cincinnati Herald, hosted a Black Parents’ Town Hall Meeting on Educational Excellence on June 25.

Parents, educators, elected officials and community members filled the Corinthian Baptist Church as they engaged in a lively discussion about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the education law that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary School Act (ESEA) and replaced No Child Left Behind.

ESSA received bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2015. The regulations are administered by the U.S. Department of Education and went into effect in 2017.

The town hall is part of a broader NNPA Public Awareness Campaign which is sponsored by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Under ESSA, states across the country adhere to more flexible federal regulations that provide for improved elementary and secondary education in the nation’s public schools.

The law also ensures that every child, regardless of race, income, background or zip code has the opportunity to obtain a high-quality education.

With the grant from the Gates Foundation, the NNPA, a national trade association of approximately 211 Black and women-owned U.S. media companies, has worked to empower parents to advocate for instructional strategies that are in the best interest of their students and communities.

“If you look at some of the research of the 30 million word gap study, it shows that by the time kids in poverty go to school, they’ve heard 30 million fewer words than [other] children,” said NNPA’s ESSA program manager Dr. Elizabeth Primas, who was among the panelists at the Town Hall.

“As parents, we need to start reading to our children in vitro so they hear the sounds of our voices and when they start talking they are able to speak in story language,” Primas said.

Hosted by Radio One’s Lincoln Ware, the town hall’s panelists included Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) Superintendent Laura Mitchell; Cincinnati’s Pre-School Promise executive Vanessa White; NAACP Education Chair Treigg Turner; NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis; and NNPA National Chairman Dorothy R. Leavell.

Mitchell noted the progress of the CPS.

She said they’ve partnered with various employers and corporations to train and place students in jobs after graduation.

“It’s all about getting kids to a place beyond graduation,” Mitchell said.

Turner said the NAACP has always been vigilant about education and concerned about the future of young African American students.

“Our children don’t have the tools of the more affluent neighborhoods, so we have to bring resources to them or point out to where city government has to do better,” Turner said.

“We also have to look at where schools are not on top of the trauma a lot of our kids are experiencing, so we want to make sure that our teachers and administrators are treating our kids the same they do with kids in other neighborhoods and kids with different backgrounds,” Turner said.

White noted the CPS Preschool Promise Program, that served more than 1,300 families during the first year of its operation two years ago.

Preschool Promise has succeeded in providing financial assistance to families because of a five-year CPS levy that voters approved three years ago.

The levy reportedly generates $15 million per year to expand families’ access to quality preschool and the program targets less affluence families because CPS and other research show that low-income children are less likely to be prepared for kindergarten.

Cincinnati reportedly has more than 4,000 three – and four-year old children who live at or below the federal poverty level, according to the U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

“Eighty percent of the brain is developed by age four,” White said.

“We said we would reach the children who need [reaching] the most. We know that kids are living in extreme poverty and facing adverse issues. Preschool Promise covers all so that parents have the opportunity to choose what’s best for their children,” White said.

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#NNPA BlackPress

Miami Times, Philadelphia Tribune, St. Louis American – Big Winners During NNPA’s 2019 Merit Awards

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Brenda Andrews Publisher of the New Journal and Guide newspaper in Norfolk, Va., won the coveted Publisher of the Year Award at the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) annual convention in Cincinnati on Thursday, June 27.

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Brenda Andrews of the New Journal and Guide newspaper in Norfolk, Va., who hosted last year’s convention, was greeted with a standing ovation as she ascended the platform to accept the NNPA Publisher of the Year Award. (Pictured left to right: Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., NNPA President and CEO; Brenda Andrews publisher of the New Journal and Guide; Karl Rodney, NNPAF board member and publisher of the New York Carib News; Amelia Ashley-Ward, NNPAF board chairman and publisher of the San Francisco Sun Reporter; Dorothy Leavell, NNPA board chairman and publisher of the Chicago and Gary Crusader Newspapers. Photo: Mark Mahoney/Dream In Color Photography for NNPA)

New Journal and Guide’s Brenda Andrews Earns Publisher of Year

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Brenda Andrews publisher of the New Journal and Guide newspaper in Norfolk, Va., won the coveted Publisher of the Year Award at the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) annual convention in Cincinnati on Thursday, June 27.

Andrews, who hosted last year’s convention, was greeted with a standing ovation as she ascended the platform to accept the award from NNPA Foundation Chair Amelia Ashley-Ward, the publisher of the San Francisco Sun Reporter.

The Miami Times (10 awards), Philadelphia Tribune (9), and St. Louis American (7) were the biggest winners of the night.

Included in the Miami Times’ awards was the John B. Russwurm Trophy that’s presented to the newspaper that accumulates the most points in NNPAF’s annual journalism competition.

During the ceremony, Ashley-Ward asked for prayers for Miami Times Publisher Rachel Reeves whom Ashley-Ward announced was gravely ill.

Westside Gazette Publisher Bobby Henry accepted the awards on behalf of the Miami Times and pledged to personally deliver them to Reeves and her family.

In 1827, Russwurm co-founded Freedom’s Journal with Samuel E. Cornish, the country’s first African American-owned and operated newspaper with the credo: “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.”

The awards were hosted by MillerCoors.

Other NNPA partners and sponsors include: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; General Motors; Pfizer Rare Disease; RAI Services Company; Ford; Macy’s; Wells Fargo; P&G; Volkswagen; American Petroleum Institute; AARP; Ascension; AmeriHealth Caritas; Fifth Third Bank; and the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation (NNPAF).

California Sen. Kamala Harris opened the program via a video message of support and encouragement.

“Thank you for the work that you do … a free and independent Black Press is critical,” Harris said.

The 2020 presidential hopeful who received the 2018 NNPA Newsmaker of the Year Award during a ceremony last year, couldn’t attend the event because she was in Florida participating in the second night of debates for Democratic candidates.

During the ceremony, Ford and General Motors formally announced scholarship awards while Kerri Watkins, the publisher of the New York Daily Challenge, handed out the George Curry Award in honor of the late Black Press editor.

Among the highlights were the award for Best Editorial, which went to the Miami Times.

The St. Louis American and the Los Angeles Sentinel finished second and third respectively in that category.

The St. Louis American earned first place in the Best Column Writing category while the Miami Times finished second and the Michigan Chronicle third.

The Philadelphia Tribune took the top prize in the Community Service Award category while the Michigan Chronicle finished second and the Miami Times third.

The Final Call earned top honors for Best News Story, while the Birmingham Times finished second and Texas Metro News earned the third place prize.

The Birmingham Times earned first place for Best Feature Story while the Atlanta Voice and Houston Defender finished second and third.

In the Best News Picture category, the Richmond Free Press won first place followed by the New Pittsburgh Courier and the Philadelphia Tribune.

The Los Angeles Sentinel won top honors in the Best Editorial Cartoon category while the Washington Afro-American won second and third place.

In the Best Layout Design Category, the Birmingham Times won first place while the Philadelphia Tribune and the New Pittsburgh Courier finished second and third.

The Philadelphia Tribune, St. Louis American and Houston Forward Times won first, second and third place respectively for Best Special Edition.

The Miami Times, Houston Forward Times and Washington Informer finished first, second, and third in the Best Youth Section category and the Miami Times, Gary Crusader and the Washington Afro-American finished first, second and third in the Best Use of Photographs category.

“We are all winners tonight,” Ashley-Ward said. “When one of us wins, we all win.”

View the recorded livestream of the ceremony below.

 

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