During the 1898, race massacre in Wilmington, N.C., the Daily Record was burned to the ground by 1,500 racist vigilantes who were angry at the audacity of Alexander Manly, the Black American publisher of the newspaper. Manly had written a bold editorial opposing the brutal and wanton patterns of unjust lynching of Black men and women in the state.
Sixty-five years later, the Wilmington Journal, published by Thomas C. Jervay Sr. and family, was bombed with sticks of dynamite by a paramilitary group known as the Rights of White People. Still, the Wilmington Journal never missed a week publishing. The Jervay family of Black-owned newspapers in Raleigh and in Wilmington emerged over the years to epitomize the history of moral integrity and high value of NNPA member publishers.
Some ask why it is necessary to be reminded of the history of the Black Press. It is necessary because we cannot afford to be ignorant of our past if we intend to have a better future for generations to come. The Black Press is one of the most valuable assets that we have in our communities.
I wrote of series of columns recently on the “Civil Rights Movement and Hip-Hop.” We received positive responses from readers across generations. For the next few weeks, I will write a series of columns on “The Black Press: The Voice of Black America.”
Today, there are numerous vexing challenges facing Black America. At the same time, there are enormous opportunities to advance the cause of freedom, justice and equality for Black America and for all people who yearn and struggle for a better quality of life.
One of the most crucial recognized international human rights is the universal right to “self-determination.” Self-expression is key to self-determination. The NNPA is the epitome of self-expression of Black America. We live in a global media age. The print media is the bedrock of multimedia and social media. Digital media augments—and not supplant—the printed word. That is especially true among African-Americans who over index on technology.
Thus, we intend to strengthen the #VoiceofBlackAmerica @NNPABlackPress every second, hour, day, week, month and year. Next year will mark the 75th anniversary of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. I am excited and passionate about helping to enhance and advance the significant interests of the Black Press in the U.S., in the Caribbean, in Brazil, across Africa and throughout the world. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 75th Anniversary of NNPA: The Voice of Black America.
Our struggle for freedom, justice and equality continues. I am optimistic about the future. We have been given the baton of history at a time when have some of best newspaper publishers, freedom-fighting journalists, business leaders, teachers, preachers, lawyers and other professionals, along with the most talented and gifted generation of youth that we have ever been blessed to witness. Nothing can hold us back from winning but ourselves.
(Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is the Interim President and CEO of the NNPA and can be reached for national advertisement sales and partnership proposals at: firstname.lastname@example.org; and for lectures and other professional consultations at: http://drbenjaminfchavisjr.wix.com/drbfc)