Founder and Head of Mission of the Diaspora African Forum H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennett, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley, activist Erica Ford, Democratic National Committee Chair Jamie Harrison, Exonerated Five member and New York City Councilman-Elect Dr. Yusef Salaam, Eric Garner’s mother Gwen Carr, and Oscar Grant’s mother the Rev. Wanda Johnson, were among the activists, celebrities, politicians, and changemakers to fill the main ballroom at the Marriott Marquis for the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) National Leadership Awards Reception.
R&B duo Ruff Endz performs at the NNPA National Leadership Awards reception. (Photo by Mark Mahoney)
The highly anticipated event delivered on the Black Press of America’s promise of an evening of recognition and celebration in honor of exceptional leaders who have made significant contributions to America, particularly the African American community.
This year’s theme, “Black Press of America Salutes Black Leadership Excellence,” reflected the spirit of acknowledgment and appreciation for those who have tirelessly worked toward the betterment of society.
“The Black Press is the foundation of our community, it’s how we hear and amplify what’s going on in our community,” said Harrison, among the many power brokers to grace the NNPA’s red carpet. “We have to support the Black Press. I’m going to make sure that we support the Black Press.”
Ohio Democratic Rep. Shontel Brown, a Leadership Award Recipient, joined Harrison on the Red Carpet and pledged to continue supporting the Black Press.
“My local newspaper is the Call and Post, and that newspaper is critical,” Brown declared. “The Black Press is how we get and receive our news. It’s essential to communicate with people who look like us. I couldn’t agree more with the chair that we must support the Black Press,” Brown stated.
Fellow awardee Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nevada) echoed Brown and Harrison, taking it a step further by insisting that Democrats and others ensure revenue continues to flow into Black-owned newspapers and media companies.
“We have to make every effort to support you, to fund you, to make sure our campaigns and organizations are placing ads and media spend with you,” Horsford proclaimed, adding that after 196 years of serving African American communities, the Black Press is as vital as ever.
Ruff Endz, the renowned R&B duo, added a musical flair to the evening with some of their chart-topping hits like “No More,” and “Someone to Love You.”
Guy Lambert, a distinguished figure in the world of broadcasting, served as master of ceremonies, while the Rev. Mark Thompson, a longtime contributor and supporter of the NNPA, helped to introduce the awardees who also included Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Rep. Jasmine Crocket (D-Texas), Niesha Foster of Pfizer Inc., Jessie Woolley-Wilson of Dreambox Learning, and the People’s Attorney Benjamin Crump.
“It’s been a very exciting event,” Dr. Bennett said of her week in Washington at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Legislative Conference and the NNPA National Leadership Awards Reception. She noted the excursions members of the CBC and the Black Press have made to Ghana and other parts of the African continent.
“In the African tradition, when someone comes to your house, you go back to their house.”
Ford, of Life Camp Inc., said although she arrived in Washington for a special ceremony at the White House, she’s always valued the role of the Black Press.
“I’m here because our hard work paid off. It’s history,” Ford declared. “The White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention (announced earlier in the week) is something we worked so hard for and so long for. So, we were at the White House and decided to come here.”
Standing only feet away from Ford were Carr and Grant. Both said the Black Press has helped to amplify their concerns and messages since police in New York and Oakland, respectively, killed their sons.
“I can’t tell you how important the Black Press has been before Eric and since,” Carr said.
NNPA Chair and Westside Gazette Publisher Bobby Henry and NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. presided over the evening, which drew thousands to the event.
Chavis said the outing further symbolized the unity and strength of the NNPA in its mission to continue to serve as the unchallenged voice of Black America.
“For 196 years, the Black Press has been the trusted voice, the unwavering voice, for truth, justice, equality, and equity in America and globally,” Chavis asserted. “We are at a pivotal time in history and the Black Press will continue to be the vital, trusted, and needed voice during this time as well.”
Source: Washington Informer