Saturday, June 08, 2024


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The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) will host its annual national convention from June 19 to 22 at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore. The NNPA is the trade association of the more than 250 African American-owned newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America.

This year’s event, themed “Empowering Black Press, Communities, Families, and Voter Turnout,” marks the Black Press’s 197th anniversary, just three years shy of its bicentennial.

The Black Press was founded in 1827, before slavery ended in America, with the publication of Freedom’s Journal in New York, published by John B. Russwurm and Samuel Cornish. The conglomerate has long championed the cause of African Americans and have been counted on for decades to rally the Black community around specific political candidates. “We wish to plead our own cause, for too long others have spoken for us,” declared Russwurm and Cornish in their inaugural issue.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have received formal invitations to attend the convention, and their participation is highly anticipated by the over 250 Black-owned newspaper and media company owners and their team of editors and journalists who are expected in Baltimore. With the 2024 election looming, Biden’s engagement with the Black Press is critical to his bid for re-election, underscoring the importance of the Black vote.

Reflecting on a pivotal moment from the 1992 NNPA convention in Baltimore, Bob Bogle of the Philadelphia Tribune and Sonny Messiah Jiles of the Houston Defender recalled the fallout when Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton backed out of his scheduled appearance. Black publishers were furious with Clinton’s decision. Bogle, at the time, called it “an affront to the Black Press, and it’s an affront to African Americans everywhere.”

Clinton later realized the gravity of his mistake and made amends by addressing the Black Press collectively. This historical context adds weight to the expectations placed on Biden, as Bogle and Jiles have expressed a similar resolve this year.

NNPA Chair Bobby Henry emphasized the significance of this year’s theme: “Our theme, ‘Empowering the Black Press, Communities, Families, and Voter Turnout,’ is of paramount importance. This conference is a critical platform for addressing the unique challenges and opportunities for political parties to share their messages with the media that serves the population and can make or break elections.”

The convention will feature several high-profile presentations and panels, including a keynote address by Damon Todd Hewitt, President & Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, titled “What is at Stake for African Americans: the 2024 Vote.” Rev. Mark Thompson of NNPA Global will moderate the “Generation Z Voter Issues” panel, featuring current and former HBCU students.

A panel discussion on “From NNPA Intern to Full-Time: How the Chevrolet Discover the Unexpected Program is Fueling the Workforce of the Future,” hosted by General Motors, and a Pfizer-sponsored breakfast on “Using AI Technology to Extend Audience Reach and Ensure Inclusive Voices” are two additional highlights. The Google News Initiative will present “News Consumer Insights” with Chrissey Towle, Google’s Director of News Partnerships.

Rahn Bailey, MD, of LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, Elliott T. Boyce, Sr., retired Director of the New York State Police, and Major Neil Franklin, former Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, will be on a panel Reynolds will host to discuss “The Importance of the 2024 Black Vote and Public Policy.” NNPA Partners and sponsors Reynolds, Pfizer Rare Disease, Google News Initiative, General Motors, American Petroleum Institute, Comcast NBC Universal, Nissan, and AARP.

The NNPA Fund’s annual Merit Awards and gala will occur on Thursday, June 20. On Friday, June 21, the NNPA’s annual black-tie gala will include a tribute to Frankie Beverly. Congressman Kweisi Mfume, U.S. Cabinet Secretary Michael Regan, and Maryland Governor Wesley Moore are scheduled to participate. NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. highlighted the critical nature of this year’s convention. “The NNPA welcomes the upcoming opportunity to convene our 2024 annual national convention in the great city of Baltimore,” Chavis declared.

“This marks the 197th anniversary of the Black Press of America. Baltimore is one of the historic cities where the Black Press continues to triumph in transformational ways. Because democracy and freedom are on the ballot this year, we will also issue a national call to action to get out the vote across America.”

As the Black Press nears its bicentennial, the NNPA is celebrating its rich legacy and charting a course for its future impact on civic engagement and social justice. “Strengthening voter turnout, supporting families, and enhancing the financial stability of Black businesses are essential steps toward fostering a more inclusive and equitable society,” Henry added. “This conference underscores the vital role of informing, educating, and mobilizing communities.”

The NNPA has continued to call for increased advertising support from businesses and governmental agencies to ensure fair and equitable spending with Black-owned media, emphasizing the ongoing economic and social contributions of the Black Press to American society.

African American Crossword Puzzles and Other Word Games + Sudoku: A Fusion of Fun and Cultural Exploration

Longtime puzzle constructor Ophelia R. M. Banks unveils her latest, thought-provoking work, "African American Crossword Puzzles and Other Word Games + Sudoku," offering audiences a captivating blend of entertainment, education, and cultural enlightenment. This innovative book is an ode to the rich body of African American historical, cultural, scientific, political, and other achievements through a variety of engaging puzzles.

Embracing a theme in each puzzle, her latest work promises an immersive journey through recent events and pivotal moments in Black culture. From Barack Obama's historic ascendancy to the presidency to Beyonce's Cowboy Carter to the groundbreaking appointment of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, each crossword puzzle and word game explores significant milestones and personalities within the African American community.

Edited by Jerry Grayson, the book's crosswords follow a standard, symmetrical format, challenging enthusiasts while offering an enjoyable experience. Alongside these, readers can work on search puzzles, crisscross puzzles, cryptic quotations, and logic problems. This edition also introduces a diverse range of sudoku puzzles, catering to varying difficulty levels from "very easy" to "hard."

"African American Crossword Puzzles and Other Word Games + Sudoku" celebrates accomplishment, heritage, resilience, and innovation. Whether solving crosswords or deciphering encrypted texts, readers are invited to engage with the rich culture of African American history in an entertaining and enlightening manner.

African American Crossword Puzzles and Other Word Games + Sudoku: A Fusion of Fun and Cultural Exploration can be purchased here:

Friday, June 07, 2024

Howard University Rescinds Honorary Degree Issued to Sean Combs

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A Howard University spokesperson released the statement below on behalf of the Howard University Board of Trustees regarding honorary degree recipient Sean Combs, following the conclusion of a regularly scheduled meeting of the Board on June 7, 2024. 

The Howard University Board of Trustees voted unanimously today to accept the return by Mr. Sean Combs of the honorary degree conferred upon him in 2014. This acceptance revokes all honors and privileges associated with the degree. Accordingly, the Board has directed that his name be removed from all documents listing honorary degree recipients of Howard University. 

Mr. Combs’ behavior as captured in a recently released video is so fundamentally incompatible with Howard University’s core values and beliefs that he is deemed no longer worthy to hold the institution’s highest honor. 

The University is unwavering in its opposition to all acts of interpersonal violence. 

The Board has also directed the University administration to immediately take the following actions: terminate a 2016 gift agreement with Mr. Combs, disband the scholarship program in his name, return his $1 million contribution, and terminate a 2023 pledge agreement with the Sean Combs Foundation.  

No payments toward the $1 million pledge have been due or made by the Sean Combs Foundation as of this date, therefore no funds are due to be returned under the 2023 pledge agreement.” 

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Wednesday, June 05, 2024

NAACP Calls on American Airlines to Respond to Pattern of Discrimination

Following a lawsuit filed by several African-American men accusing American Airlines of discriminatory behavior, additional reports of discrimination have surfaced which convey a troubling pattern of a failure to address harmful behaviors. Upon the lawsuit filing, American Airlines released a statement regarding an open investigation into these incidents. As of June 4, the airline's leadership has yet to provide an update on the pending investigation. 

NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson has released the following statement, requesting a swift and decisive response from American Airlines:

"The NAACP is proud to champion efforts to hold corporations accountable. The removal of our travel advisory in 2018 came as a result of a commitment to deliver on key stipulations that would prevent future discriminatory acts, one of which was a diversity, equity, and inclusion advisory council. Amidst the resurgence of attacks on DEI, American Airlines disbanded the panel in 2023. 

Recent discriminatory actions from company employees prove that there is a dire need for continued accountability and resolution to this clear pattern. We encourage American Airlines to come revive the advisory panel and reconvene with the NAACP to devise a path forward that ensures equitable experiences for all American Airlines customers. Without a swift and decisive response, the NAACP will be forced to reinstate an advisory against the airline."

Following reports of hostility toward Black passengers in October 2017, the NAACP issued a travel advisory, warning Black Americans of potential discrimination they could face when flying with the airline. The Association extended an opportunity for the corporation to resolve this issue through several stipulations, one of which included the advisory council referenced above. Upon acceptance of the terms, the NAACP lifted the advisory in July 2018. 

The NAACP continues to work, forging a path forward where diversity, equity, and inclusion are ingrained into the fabric of corporate America, holding corporations accountable to their duties to Black consumers who drive our nation's economy. To learn more about NAACP's corporate responsibility work, visit our website. NAACP | Leading the Fight to End Racial Inequality

Hakeem Jeffries blasts Byron Donalds for his ignorant Jim Crow remarks

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) blasted Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) for Donald's inflammatory comments Donalds made regarding Black families' quality of life during Jim Crow-era racial segregation.

Here is what Donalds said:

“One of the things that’s actually happening in our culture that you’re now starting to see in our politics is the reinvigoration of Black family with younger Black men and Black women, and that is also helping to breathe the revival of a Black middle class in America,” Donalds said. “You see, during Jim Crow, the Black family was together. During Jim Crow, more Black people were not just conservative — Black people have always been conservative-minded — but more Black people voted conservatively. And then H.E.W., Lyndon Johnson — you go down that road, and now we are where we are.”

Here is the House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies said: