The Chicago Crusader Newspaper Celebrates Its 75th Anniversary
Friday evening Chicago came out in a big, big way to celebrate 75 years of The Crusader and its publisher Dorothy Leavell. Ms. Leavell took the mantle in 1968 after the death of her husband Balm L. Leavell Jr., who was the publisher who preceded her. The 75th Anniversary was held at the Lowes Chicago Hotel. As the doors opened it was easy to spot notables, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins, Congressman Danny Davis, Dr. Carol Adams, Michael House, Black Press icon, Cheryl Mainor, Publisher, Chicago Defender, Jayme Cain, Publisher of The Times Weekly, Emma Asante, VP NBC, Patrick Woodtor, CEO, African Festival of the Arts and so many more in the Black community and particularly in the media world. It was a comment on the long-reaching-Dorothy-Leavell-prowess of the publisher who has provider leadership for The Crusader as well as the Black Press on national level. The reception featured the now standard step & repeat, backdrop for attendees to be photographed and captured on film capturing those in attendance. This feature once preserved for the red carpet of Hollywood is part of the gala phenomena and so the reception was complete, as all those who wanted to say a few words spoke into the mic sharing accolades and personal words of congratulatory praises to Ms. Leavell.
Drinks poured, food passed and conversation flowed amongst the guests as they met, greeted and chatted-up for one hour and a few dangling minutes before being then herded to the dining area for dinner and the program. The night was hosted by three masters of ceremonies, Cliff Kelly of WVON, Art Norman of NBC and Deborah Crable best known as co-host of Ebony-Jet Showcase each bringing their unique brand of style, finesse and paiazz to the stage. Dinner was blessed and the program began with opening remarks, accolades, acknowledgments, and then there was music followed by the awards, and then Keynote speaker Michael Dyson, author, educator and news consultant.
In addition to the standard Anniversary Gala programs, unique and timely was the publication, “Getting The Word Out, African American Women Publishers ” by Rosetta Miller Perry presented in the goodie bag. It was a nice gesture given the time in which we find ourselves with so many women moving into positions of power and leadership. So as I set through the program I thought how gracious of Ms. Leavall to share her moment in such a classy way with the rest of the women publishers of the Black press. It’s a wonderful keepsake that will be enjoyed forever.
A good time was had by all and again, “Congratulations Ms. Leavall, on your 75th year of publishing The Crusader,”~ Chicago Defender
About Dorothy Leavell
Mrs. Leavell is a survivor, as is The Crusader. During an era when print publications are faltering, failing and resorting to online editions only, she has maintained a robust readership. Her guiding mission is serving the African American communities in Chicago and Northwest Indiana. The Gary Crusader was launched in 1961 and will celebrate its 55th Anniversary in 2016.
The Chicago Crusader is recognized as one of Chicago’s leading institutions and one of its oldest and most successful Black-owned businesses. The newspaper maintains its roots in the community with its headquarters in the 6400 block of South King Drive in Chicago.
On the national level, Mrs. Leavell is a powerhouse with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), having served as president, board member and treasurer, as well as chairman of the NNPA Foundation. She was named “Publisher of the Year” during the organization’s Merit Awards Gala in 2011.
In 2008 during Black Press Week, Mrs. Leavell led a delegation of NNPA publishers to the White House after President Barack Obama was elected. It was the first time during the Obama administration the NNPA as an organization visited the White House.
In 2013, Mrs. Leavell served as chairman of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, and in 2014 was appointed board member of the National Civil Rights Hall of Fame. A lifelong supporter of the arts, Ms. Leavell donated her personal art collection of 150 commissioned pieces to The DuSable Museum of African American History.
Dorothy Leavell is a persuasive, energetic and charming businesswoman and community activist. And she is a SURVIVOR – one who is still on a mission to serve her community!