On Tuesday night, America’s Black press held a special reception at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in downtown Denver to recognize the political advancement of the Black community currently manifested in the presidential candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama.
On Tuesday night, America’s Black press held a special reception at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in downtown Denver to recognize the political advancement of the Black community currently manifested in the presidential candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama. Thursday, Obama will officially receive the nomination of the Democratic Party for president, marking the first African American in history to do so. Tuesday’s event, “A Salute to the Black Press," featured leading political and social activists, as well as journalists who are covering the African American community. Presented by the Los Angeles Sentinel and the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a consortium of 200 Black newspapers, the event was one of the main highlights of the Denver convention for the Democratic Party, which has traditionally counted on the Black vote. "This is a very historic convention. In many ways, the Black press has played a major role in getting to where we are today with Sen. Barack Obama," said Danny Bakewell Jr., Los Angeles Sentinel executive editor.
"This is an opportunity to say the Black press is here and cannot be ignored by either party. The truth is, the candidates rely on our readership’s votes." Alan J. Hughes editorial director of Black Enterprise magazine, said even if Obama doesn’t win in November, his nomination sends a powerful message to the Black community that although it has not arrived, it has taken a giant step ahead. "It’s one thing to tell Black children you can be anything, including president, but to actually see it is really an inspiration," Hughes said. "It goes to show that though we have not arrived yet, but we made a pretty strong step." Hughes said he is waiting to see what kind of legislation an Obama administration would create to help the Black community. Has the Black press given Obama a free pass? That question has been the topic of discussion. Hughes said to a degree, it would make sense if Obama has escaped severe criticism from Black newspapers. "But once he gets elected, we need to hold him to the same standard we do with every other politician," Hughes said. "If we don’t, then we are failing our responsibility as journalists." Eleanor Tatum, publisher of the Amsterdam News, said Obama’s nomination is not the end of the road for the struggle for civil rights. "Even though it is a major victory, we have to continue to work harder," Tatum said. "We cannot rest on our laurels." She noted that Obama bridges the generational gap that has existed between deputies of the Civil Rights Movement and today’s young Blacks. She said it is a transfer of the mantle of leadership and what the Black community is capable of doing. She doesn’t think the Black press was soft on Obama. She cited her paper, for instance, that did not endorse Obama in the primary election. ______ Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.