NNPA Wraps Convention in Nashville with Powerful Messages
President Joe Biden’s remarks in saluting the Black Press of America during the NNPA’s annual convention in Nashville, making it clear how important African American-owned newspapers remain, underscored the gathering’s theme. After all, the theme of the conference and for this 196th anniversary of the Black Press was: “The Black Press of America: Amplifying Progress, Excellence, & Voices of Black America.”
“Congratulations to the Black Press of America for celebrating 196 years of serving communities across our nation,” Biden stated in the address which aired on July 1. “Ida B. Wells once said, the way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon the wrong. That’s the sacred charge of a free press. That’s the charge African American publishers have pursued for nearly two centuries,” Biden continued. “With every story you publish, you make our democracy stronger. Thank you for what you do to turn the light of truth wherever your work leads you. Thank you.”
Dr. Chavis and NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards praised the President for recognizing the importance of the Black Press of America. “The NNPA is especially honored to hear directly from President Joe Biden for his continued support and advocacy of the importance of the Black Press of America,” Chavis stated. “As we celebrate 196 years of the Black Press, it’s always gratifying and encouraging to have the support of the President of the United States. In the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions on civil rights, the Black Press rededicates our journalism to be a clarion voice for freedom, justice, equality, and equity.”
Richards, who completed four years as NNPA Chair, also thanked the President. “To have the President of the United States take the time out to be a part of our convention is of course special,” Richards related. “But it’s also a testament to just how vital the Black Press remains. Collectively, as Black publishers and Black business owners, we are stronger than ever, and the President’s message reinforces that.”
The week began with a chairman’s reception at the National Museum of African American Music sponsored by Nissan, with greetings and acknowledgments from Richards; Chavis; and convention planning committee chair Terry Jones, the publisher of Data News Weekly in New Orleans. Rosetta Miller-Perry, the publisher of the Tennessee Tribune, served as host for the week. A workshop on engaging the next generation through culture and building pathways between the Black Press and the next generation through education included conversations with Houston Forward Times Business Manager Chelsea Lenora White, and Jarren Small, the CEO of Educational Entertainment and Reading with a Rapper. The workshop stressed the importance of solving the national literacy issue to reach the next generation and provided publishers and attendees with solutions to reach an untapped market: schools. Small and Dr. Chavis then discussed the “Black Press State of Emergency Response through Hip Hop, Education, and Literacy,” during a fireside chat.
The Google News Initiative presented “3 Trends to Grow Ad Revenues in 2023” with the global program manager Tina Xiao. Xiao briefed attendees on the top trends in ad revenue and Google products aimed at helping accelerate publishers’ digital transformation.
Longtime NNPA partner General Motors hosted a lunch discussion on “Cultural Capital with Diverse Consumers Through Storytelling,” moderated by David Milledge, GM’s multicultural marketing manager. It included panelists Brandy Merriweather and Tiffany Greene, both HBCU alums.
The Los Angeles Sentinel later presented “Dig- ital Transformation, Staying Accessible and Relevant to Readers,” powered by Intuit, and featuring Niele Anderson, the Sentinel’s Daily Brief host. Tania Mercado, the senior manager of communications at Intuit, and Derrick Plummer, the company’s director of corporate communications, served as panelists. They discussed the challenges of transforming print to digital and how to accelerate that transformation and overcome some of those challenges.
The NNPA Fund handed out its Messenger Awards, honoring the best of Black newspapers. The Sacramento Observer won 16 awards, including Publisher of the Year for Larry Lee.
Chavis also interviewed Jessie Wolley-Wilson, the president, and CEO of DreamBox Learning, on emphasizing mathematics in education. Dr. Wilford T. Ussery then presented “Mathematics and Education for Black America.” Diageo produced the video “Introducing Multicultural Consortium for Responsible Drinking,” presented by Sheila Thorne.
Also, Zillow presented “Housing Trends in Black America,” with Tyrone Law, the senior public relations specialist delivering with a focus on the current state of housing, including homeownership rates, home values and other trends affecting the Black community. Keith Collins, the owner, and CEO of BlackOps LLC, presented “Empowering Minority-Owned Small Businesses to be Cyber Aware.” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison proved a crowd pleaser with his topic, “Ending the Cycle of Police Violence in America.”
Google Tech Transformation Lab presented a Q&A where publishers and attendees could learn more about how they could become a part of Transformation Tech, a new program helping news publishers achieve digital transformation through top-tier coaching and $20K in funding from the Google News Initiative. Reynolds hosted a lunch panel on “When Good People Write Bad Public Policy: Stop the FDA Menthol Ban,” a session that expounded on the lived experiences and expertise of the nation’s leading Black law enforcement professionals and community leaders on the unintended consequences of bans and prohibitions.
Bobby Henry, the publisher of the Westside Gazette in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., won election as NNPA Chairman, succeeding Richards, the publisher of the Houston Forward Times. During the NNPA’s Legacy Awards and Gala Dinner, the organization honored Attorney General Ellison along with Tennessee State Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson. Grammy winner Keith Washington closed the gala with a mini-concert.