Norfolk’s First Black Mayor Kenneth Alexander Declares ‘Black Press of America Week’

Norfolk’s First Black Mayor Kenneth Alexander Declares ‘Black Press of America Week’

by July 6, 2018

Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander issued a proclamation declaring “Black Press of America Week” in the waterfront city in Southeastern Virginia, kicking off the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) annual convention at a welcome reception at the Chrysler Museum.

Reading from the proclamation, the mayor said: “I, Kenneth Alexander, mayor of the city of Norfolk, do hereby proclaim June 26-June 30, 2018 as ‘Black Press of America Week’ in the city of Norfolk, encouraging all citizens to recognize the National Newspaper Publishers Association for its monumental achievement and historic role in reshaping and diversifying the print media industry.”

Alexander said that he was happy that the Black Press was in Norfolk, home to the largest Naval base in the world, for their annual convention. More than 40 percent of the population of Norfolk is Black.

The theme of the 2018 NNPA annual convention was, “Sustaining, Engaging and Mobilizing Black Communities.”

The convention, which concluded on June 30, brought together many of the 220 African American-owned newspapers and media companies around the country that comprise the Black Press of America.

Alexander praised NNPA members, particularly “The New Journal and Guide” and its publisher Brenda Andrews, who hosted this year’s convention.

“The work you do telling stories—rich and deep stories—that would not ordinarily be told, if not for the Black Press,” said Alexander, a Democrat, who became Norfolk’s first Black mayor and the 99th in the city’s history when he was elected in 2016. “We thank you, because of the stories that you have been telling over the years…whether it’s [the story of] Plessy v. Ferguson; whether it’s Brown v. Board of Education; the ending of the poll tax; if it’s [story of] the election of the first African American mayor of Norfolk—Brenda, you told that story—we certainly thank you for doing that.”

The New Journal and Guide, which was founded in 1900 and has served the Hampton Roads area ever since.

“It’s such a thrill to be the host publisher for the NNPA’s annual convention,” Andrews said.

Not to be outdone, Virginia Democratic Delegate Cliff Hayes also presented NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., and NNPA National Chairman Dorothy R. Leavell with a proclamation from the 100-member state House of Delegates.

That proclamation praised the Black Press for its “high quality journalism” and “engagement in African American communities across the nation.”

Dorothy Leavell, the chairman of the NNPA, said that she had fond memories of Norfolk, in 1997; as then-President of the NNPA she remembered that she was treated well.

“This city has grown tremendously since 1997,” Leavell said. “I can assure you that the warmth and the sincerity that we have been afforded to us have been outstanding.”

Hayes said that it can be challenging to get stories told the way they need to be told in the Black community; that’s why it was so important to honor the NNPA during this year’s convention.

“The House of Delegates saw fit to make sure we honor the NNPA,” Hayes said, noting the 191-year history of the Black Press that started in 1827 with the publication of “Freedom’s Journal,” the first African American-owned and operated newspaper published in the United States.

“Somebody asked me if we were the Black Press ‘of’ America or the Black Press ‘in’ America,” Andrews said. “I told that individual that, ‘We are the Black Press ‘of’ America; we are located ‘in’ America.’”

Andrews said that sometimes running a small newspaper with a historic purpose and mission in Norfolk can get a little lonely.

Andrews continued: “But, when I get in the company of my brothers and sisters who own newspapers across the United States, it reminds me of the importance and the purpose for which we were created and have kept to the mission for 191 years.”

Stacy Brown is an NNPA Newswire Contributor and co-author of “Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask: An Insider’s Story of the King of Pop.” Follow Stacy on Twitter @stacybrownmedia.

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