Council honors Courier for 100 years of service

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It was fitting that Pittsburgh City Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle sponsored the resolution honoring the New Pittsburgh Courier and its forerunner, the Pittsburgh Courier for a century of importance in the African-American community, fitting because his grandfather once worked at the Courier.

“It’s an honor to have you here today,” he said to the assembled Courier staff. “It’s impossible to put into a proclamation all that the Courier has done and what it has meant to people. But we wanted to recognize you for the fine work you do.”

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CENTENNIAL—District 6 Councilman Daniel Lavelle presents New Pittsburgh Courier Editor and Publisher Rod Doss and staff with a proclamation celebrating the newspaper’s 100-year anniversary. March 30 was proclaimed Pittsburgh Courier Day.

Reading from the proclamation, Lavelle noted the Courier’s 1907 origin as the writing outlet of H.J. Heinz security guard Edward Harleston, which attorney Robert L. Vann took over and publicly chartered in 1910. This, he said, transformed the Courier “into the vanguard for economic and political empowerment of African-Americans, effectively offering an alternative voice to the misrepresentations of African-Americans in mainstream media.”

Lavelle noted the paper’s national and local editions, published not only in Pittsburgh, but also Ohio, New York, Louisiana and Texas. He also noted that luminaries such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, James Weldon Johnson and Zora Neal Hurston contributed to the Courier as columnists, joining the likes of pioneering journalist and war correspondent, Frank Bolden.

The proclamation also noted the paper’s World War II “Double V” campaign, which stood for victory abroad against fascism and victory at home against segregation. It also highlighted the Courier’s contribution to desegregating professional sports, championed by sportswriter Wendell Smith.

Following the unanimous approval of council declaring March 30, 2010 New Pittsburgh Courier Day in Pittsburgh, Lavelle handed the proclamation to Editor and Publisher Rod Doss, who thanked council, his staff and the community for making the recognition possible.

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CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION AT CITY HALL – Front, from left: Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith and Senior Classified Sales Rep Joan Alli; Second row, from left: Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, Office Manager Allison Palm, Editor and Publisher Rod Doss, Advertising Coordinator Kathleen Neely, Staff Writer Christian Morrow and Councilman Patrick Dowd; Third row, from left: Councilman Daniel Lavelle, Advertising Manager Eric Gaines, Staff Writer Ashley Johnson, Staff Writer Rebecca Nuttall and Circulation/Subscription Coordinator Brenda Hill; Back row, from left: Councilwoman Darlene Harris, Councilman Bruce Kraus, Councilman Bill Peduto, Managing Editor Ulish Carter, Graphic Artist Kathleen Bradley Yocum, Councilman Ricky Burgess and Assistant to the Publisher Stephan Broadus. Not pictured: Graphic Artist Deborah Vargus and Circulation Consultant Jeff Marion.

“New Pittsburgh Courier Day, I like that,” he said. “Down through the years, many gifted writers and photographers told the story exclusive to a people who otherwise could not see themselves in a positive light in other media. Their stories were celebrated in the pages of the Courier. They lifted a community and inspired them to new heights and allowed many to see a world of Black accomplishment they never would have seen otherwise.”

And though the Courier has produced many celebrated writers and photographers throughout its history, Doss noted that their work might not have been seen if not for those who worked behind the scenes to make the Courier a reality.

“The many lesser-known individuals who daily have the same commitment to excellence, a passion to persevere and overcome—they are the heart and soul of this organization that pulls together to produce each single copy of our newspaper,” he said, then introducing the staff, added. “It is on their behalf that I graciously accept this award.”

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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