Black Publishers give, receive honors during White House celebration of Black Press Week

WASHINGTON–A historic delegation of 50 Black publishers and their guests, who convened at the White House last week for a Black Press Week award to President Barack Obama and his family, received equal praise from the First Family for the work of th

WASHINGTON–A historic delegation of 50 Black publishers and their guests, who convened at the White House last week for a Black Press Week award to President Barack Obama and his family, received equal praise from the First Family for the work of the Black Press of America.

It was a delegation of the more than 200-member National Newspaper Publishers Association, honoring America’s first Black President for his NNPA Newsmaker of the Year selection by awarding him with a book of front pages of Black newspapers from his historic Nov. 4, 2008 election.

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“The reason that I’ve been able and Michelle has been able to do what we’re doing is because of the extraordinary support and thoughtfulness with which you’ve covered our campaigns and our activities, and so I am very thankful to you,” Obama told the publishers during the ceremony in the State Dining Room March 20. “You are welcome in this house, the people’s house, and we are looking forward to continuing to spread, not just our stories, but the stories of struggle and hope and hardships that so many people are going through right now, making those stories real and putting a face to the numbers and statistics because that’s how we end up being able to inspire the country as a whole to make the kind of forward progress that we need.”

It was a light-hearted atmosphere for the president and First Lady Michelle Obama, dealing with dire issues, as well as for the publishers whose daily lives are focused on the long-held mission of equal justice for African-American people. In remarks interrupted several times with cheers and applause, Obama and First Lady Michelle appeared genuinely touched by the magazine-styled book awarded to them, by NNPA Foundation Chair Dorothy R. Leavell, publisher of the Chicago and Gary "Crusader" newspapers. NNPA’s Newsmaker of the Year is the highest annual honor bestowed during Black Press Week, March 16, 1827, birthday of the Black Press, now in its 182nd year.

“We are so happy to be here and to also congratulate you … and to let you know that we’ve got your back,” said Leavell as the room erupted with cheers and applause from the publishers. Leavell then gave the President and First Lady the 80-paged document titled, "The Black Press Committed to the Cause."

On the back of the book of Black Press front pages are the words of Richard Hatcher’s song, “Feelin’ Good" as a reflection of how musical themes flowed throughout the campaign.

"We want to honor you…We hope you will enjoy looking at them,” Leavell said.

“Well, that’s beautiful,” the President responded, flipping through the book as he asked First Lady Michelle to speak first.

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In photo:  President Barack Obama proudly displays a book of Black Press front pages awarded to him by the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation Chair Dorothy Leavell.

Copyright 2009 NNPA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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