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Wilmington Ten commends the NNPA during Mid-Winter Conference in Fort Lauderdale

The Black Press; co-chair of the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project; Lead attorney of Wilmington Ten and a Wilmington Ten member

Wilmington Ten commends the NNPA during Mid-Winter Conference in Fort Lauderdale

By Jimmie Davis, Jr.

     If African Americans want something done right they better take matters into their own hands and nobody knows this better than the National Newspaper Publishers Association [NNPA, the Black Press of America] when it comes to passionately telling what’s transpiring in Black communities across the nation.

    Mary Alice Thatch, Publisher of the 40 year old family owned, Wilmington Journal played a highly critical role through news coverage and supplied other resources in assisting the Wilmington Ten get “Pardons of Innocence”.

    The NNPA exerted a tremendous amount of pressure on the state of North Carolina, and on Jan. 5, 2013, the Wilmington Ten, and the families of the four deceased members, all received their official certificates of Pardons, signed by Beverly Perdue, Governor of North Carolina.

    “If it wasn’t for the NNPA I don’t know if we would be sitting here today,” said Dr. Benjamin Chavis, president of Education Online Services Corporation and member of the Wilmington Ten. “For the next 12 months we are going to have an emancipation tour and go everywhere that the NNPA publishes their papers to awaken our young people.”

     Chavis expressed his gratitude towards the Black Press at the DoubleTree Suites Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where the NNPA assembled during their 2013 Mid-Winter Conference from Jan. 23-26 to map out strategic objectives that will keep them solvent in the 21st century.

     James E. Ferguson II, lead attorney for the Wilmington Ten says Governor Purdue was confronted with a number of different ways to get around giving the Wilmington Ten their due diligence.

     Furthermore, he pointed out that Purdue was humiliated by the judicial system that allowed the prosecutor to disgrace the state legal system and particularly this case with an over abundance of racially motivated actions and tendencies.

     “The governor felt ashamed and was bothered by this case,” Ferguson said. “This pardon didn’t come from just the goodness of her heart.”

     Ferguson acknowledges that the NNPA along with the petition drive were deciding factors that persuaded Gov. Perdue to grant the pardons.

    The panel was woven with sentiments that there were other , “Wilmington Ten” projects for the NNPA to bring to the forefront.

    Bobby R. Henry, Sr., publisher of the, Westside Gazette says his paper gets flooded with requests for help from a mixture of correctional inmates seeking assistance.

“It’s hard to decipher what’s true or not, however one of our challenges is to facilitate the release of other people who are wrongly incarcerated,” said Henry. “We get lots of letters from inmates and what we need is a clearing house to keep us focused and not chasing ghosts.”

            The conference held various workshops and a variety of events to bring publishers up to speed on such things as assessing new marketing techniques to showcasing the distinguished “Kinsey Collection” of African American artifacts.

     Cloves Campbell, Jr., publisher of the Arizona Informant & Chairman of the NNPA articulated the fact that he’s elated to be in Fort Lauderdale, and that Black newspapers records history every week.

     He says the climate of the newsroom is changing because of technological advances.

     “Journalists don’t have to sit around in the newsroom like they used to do in the old days,” said Campbell. “Everything’s virtual and this allows the news to be disseminated faster.”

     Without a doubt the NNPA is disconcerted with the HIV/AIDS epidemic that’s plaguing the Black communities throughout the nation and the NNPA has its share of personnel experiences.

     Jasmine Shirley, vice president of Community Health Services of the North Broward Hospital District implores the NNPA to continue speaking about preventive measures, treatment and goals of healthcare officials in battling the outbreak.

     “The NNPA can present clear goals and other national HIV/AIDS strategies that other publications can’t,” Shirley said. “We can’t do this without the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion where there are no negative consequences on the state.”

     Another goal of the NNPA is to partner with other national organizations and to acquire funds so they can appropriately take action.

     “The NNPA is on the forefront of eliminating this global disease that has ruined so many lives,” said Kyle Yeldell, Program Activities Coordinator for the NNPA Foundation. “We have to get more funding to other organizations to ensure that they will be able to fight this disease.”

     After a site committee visited sunny South Florida’s luxurious Doubletree Suites Hotel, and its alluring shoreline, Bill Tompkins, president and CEO of the NNPA decided to hold their convention in Fort Lauderdale.

     “We wanted to go a place that’s enjoyable and in this case warm weather,” Tompkins said. “The welcoming committee, the convention bureau, Broward County and the city has been extremely supportive.”

     One of the first orders up after several days of gaining strength for the Black press was to have rest and relaxation on Aboard Anticipation IV, which was a Riverfront cruise along the intercostals waterway.

     The voyage was hosted by Albert Tucker, vice president of Multicultural Business Development, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

     Congressman Alcee L. Hastings, (D-Miramar) was invited to speak at the prayer breakfast where newly elected Rev. Dr. Rosalind Osgood, School Board Member, Broward County District Five, carried out the invocation.

     In his “up-front” and “hold you accountable manner”, Congressman Hastings gave one of his most supporting presentations of the Black Press that was felt upon my ears.

     African Americans enjoy going to the movie theaters just like any other race of people, but there’s something wide of the mark when it comes to the NNPA getting their fair share of advertising dollars not only from the movie industry, but department stores, beverage companies, and restaurants as well as automobile agencies.

     According to a new study released by Nielsen (sponsor of the NNPA 2013 Mid-Winter Conference) companies that fail to advertise with the Black press are missing an opportunity to reach nearly 43 million African Americans whose $967 billion annual buying power is projected to exceed one trillion dollars in three years.

     “I’m going to throw myself into the mix and help the NNPA get ads,” said Jeff Friday, Founder & CEO of Film Life, Inc. “I’m going to use some of the contacts I have to help you. You have my commitment to bring some of this Hollywood money to your papers.”

     Friday started the ball rolling for the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) and the Black Movie Awards (BMA).

     Additionally, he’s developing the Miami Film Life Center, a community arts and professional training institute to teach children different aspects of the film industry.

     Fort Lauderdale has a very rich legacy of African American leaders and the Black press saluted several of them.

     Gwendolyn Shaw, (Ms. Gwen) director/owner of Red School; Avis and Walter Boyd of James C. Boyd Funeral Home; Commissioner Bobby B. Dubose, District III; Arthur (Art) Kennedy, Chief of Staff for U.S. Representative Alcee L. Hastings and  Christopher L. (Chris) Smith, State Senator (D-District 31) were awarded for their “Outstanding Community Service”.

     Levi Henry Jr., Publisher Emeritus of the Westside Gazette, was awarded the NNPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

     Before Levi approached the podium his beloved son Bobby Henry, Sr.  who’s now the publisher shared tears of joy.

     “Daddy I’m so very proud of you,” said Henry. “If I could be just half the man you are I will have reached a milestone.”

     Levi says” That if a Black newspaper can’t defend itself and the community then it should closed down. “

     “I’m excited to see all of the Black publishers and I just love coming to these NNPA meetings,” said Levi. “We are family and need to show more love towards one another. Thank you NNPA and board members for thinking about me.”



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