Black Press leader: Black newspapers will speak for themselves

National Newspapers Publishers Association publishers pose with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Vilsack stands in center between NNPA Chairman Danny Bakewell and NNPA Foundation Chair Dorothy Leavell. Photo/Roy Lewis

WASHINGTON – Upon the 183rd anniversary of the founding of America’s first Black newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, National Newspaper Publishers Association Chairman Danny Bakewell told a packed ballroom at the National Press Club that the power of the Black Press will be increased in 2010. “If we don’t plead our own case, if we don’t tell our own story, if we don’t represent our own community, if we don’t represent our own people who will?” said Bakewell during his Power of the Black Press address at the downtown D.C. press headquarters. “We have abdicated the responsibility and abdicated the true power of the Black Press when we don’t tell the story as it is. When we allow the New York Times to define what the Congressional Black Caucus is while we just sit by idly and reprint what they say. We are not a people who we can’t speak for ourselves.” The 70-year-old Black publisher’s organization boasts a member network of more than 200 newspapers and a combined base of 19.8 million loyal African-American weekly readers. Bakewell said that kind of power and influence must be respected.  “Everybody wants to speak for Black people but nobody wants to listen to Black people speak,” Bakewell said in his address. The chairman spoke boldly about how the federal government spends millions of dollars in advertising budgets annually; yet consistently leaves out Black media outlets in its advertising buys. “We’re not asking for nothing but respect and reciprocity,” Bakewell said. “But we’re not asking anymore. We are demanding that Black people get our fair share and we get our proper respect and reciprocation for what we do. We represent 14 percent of the population in America so we want 14 percent of everything moving in the federal government. That to me is not unreasonable.” Freedom’s Journal was founded in New York City in 1827 by two free Black men. “A hundred and eighty-three years ago, our two founding fathers John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish made a profound statement in their original editorial, and it simply said, and it as valid today and it was then,” We wish to plead our own cause,” Bakewell said. “Too long have others spoken for us.” NNPA

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