NNPA President to Moderate Forum Targeting Millennials

Millennials and a younger generation are the targets of the fourth installment of The HeroZona Foundation’s Bridge Forum, which takes place at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 25, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Phoenix Tempe.

The event is an addition to the Foundation’s series discussing systemic racism in America, and the special segment will include young leaders from various public and private Arizona organizations advocating for change. The invitation-only event is again moderated by National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

Supported by the City of Tempe and Greater Phoenix Leadership, the forum will also be live streamed to the public on TheBridgeForum.com.

“When it comes to major policy change, too often we only speak with elected officials like me,” Tempe Mayor Corey Woods stated in a news release. “It’s important that when we talk about the needs of the next generation, we actually include them in these conversations. That is why I am proud to support the Next Generation Bridge Forum. This event will place a much-needed spotlight on the voices of young leaders who are out in the community making change in unique ways. I look forward to learning the different perspectives of these six exceptionally impressive panelists.”

HeroZona Foundation Founder and U.S. Army Desert Storm Veteran Alan “AP” Powell, said the point of the Bridge Forum series is to be as forward thinking as possible when addressing these difficult issues. “These young voices are the ones who are going to lead us into the future, which is why this installment will be so impactful. We are excited to give them the platform to voice their ideas on how to spark change,” Powell declared.

Not only are these discussions timely but “having this group of young leaders presenting solution-oriented ideas is crucial in inspiring change,” said Ted Trembath, general manager of the Embassy Suites by Hilton Phoenix Tempe. “We are honored to be the host of an event that is truly pushing us toward a better future.”

The event will include a mix of panelists from young prominent community members to policy experts, Powell said.

It includes West Mesa Precinct Judge Elaissia Sears, Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries Allen Kevin Hunter, Arizona NAACP Youth & College President and organizer of several Phoenix Black Lives Matter protests Armonee D. Jackson, Phoenix Suns Community & Player Programs Senior Coordinator Shaquin Albrow, Arizona Coalition for Change Civic Engagement Director Sena Mohammed, and 100 Black Men of Phoenix Health & Wellness Committee Chairman Navarro Whitaker. Also taking place during the event, 19-year-old local poet Jasmin Artaisha will be performing a piece titled “Can’t Breathe”, based on the murder of George Floyd.

“The voices of young Black leaders in the Valley are crucial to how we move our community forward in Arizona,” Judge Sears stated. “Bridging the gap between seasoned leaders and those who are coming after them allows us the opportunity to achieve greater objectives together.”

The forum is supported by City of Tempe Mayor Corey Woods, Arizona State Representative for District 9 Greg Stanton, Arizona State Representative for District 26 Athena Salman, Maricopa Country District 1 Supervisor Jack Sellers, and Greater Phoenix Leadership President and CEO Neil G. Giuliano.

For more information about the Bridge Forum and to stream its upcoming event on Tuesday, August 25, visit TheBridgeForum.com.

NFL Will Play Black National Anthem at Games

When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the national anthem to bring awareness to social and other injustices faced regularly by Black and Brown individuals in America, the National Football League, President Donald Trump, and others wrongly associated the quarterback’s actions as a protest against the U.S. flag and the nation’s military.

In the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, protests and demonstrations have awakened America and most of the world to the plight of African Americans who long have suffered injustice, inequality, and an overall lack of understanding.

The NFL remains at the forefront of the new understanding, and now they’ve taken that knowledge, and, in an unprecedented decision, the league announced it would play Lift Every Voice and Sing – the Black National Anthem – before every opening day game this year.

The performance of the song will occur before “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the NFL said. The league’s season opener is scheduled for September 10, with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans.

“The league taking the opportunity to play “Lift every voice and sing” (the Black national anthem) is sweet. It’s a great way to honor those who started this movement year and years ago,” tweeted Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley.

“For those who aren’t familiar with it, this song seeks to remind us of our past as a country and to strive to be better. It speaks to all of us, not just Black people, even tho it became a rallying cry for Blacks in the Jim Crow era. It is a beautiful message birthed from pain,” Conley added.

“To those claiming the song is derisive, I ask which part? Much like America the Beautiful is played to honor, this song is the same. It’s isn’t for “just Black people” it’s for all who acknowledge the past and press toward a better future.”

As noted in Sports Illustrated, Lift Every Voice and Sing has an extensive history since its first inception as a poem in 1899. According to the NAACP, its lyrics were penned by writer and NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson (a Jacksonville native). It was eventually adopted for music by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson. Years later, it was adopted by the NAACP as the organization’s official song.

According to the NAACP, the song was first performed in Jacksonville at a school where James Weldon Johnson was the principal. As part of a celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, 1900, Lift Every Voice and Sing was publicly performed by 500 school children at the Stanton School.

The NFL has recently acknowledged it was wrong in how it handled Kaepernick, who has mostly been black balled from the game. Commissioner Roger Goodell has said he now would encourage teams to sign the former Super Bowl quarterback.

Because Goodell has reversed course and said he would allow kneeling, the league came under enormous criticism from President Donald Trump, who now is calling for a boycott of the NFL.

Sen. Ted Cruz called the decision to play the Black National Anthem “asinine,” further fueling racial tensions that have already boiled over since the Floyd killing.

Thousands View NNPA’s First Virtual Convention

The first virtual convention in the 80-year history of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) earned a thumbs-up from partners and sponsors.

The successful event’s website, vitualnnpa2020.com, generated more than 55,000 pageviews to conference attendees in only two days. Several hundred thousand additional impressions were generated by social media posts and livestreams on Facebook and YouTube.

“We share in your excitement and applaud your efforts in successfully executing the first virtual NNPA Annual Convention,” Lester Booker, of General Motors Communications, wrote in a congratulatory email to NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

“Over the past two days, I’ve had the opportunity to view some of the convention and was impressed with its content, execution, and professionalism,” Booker continued, noting that GM officials continue to value and appreciate the company’s more than 50-year partnership with the Black Press of America.

Several other partners and sponsors joined General Motors, including Pfizer Rare Disease, RAI Services Company, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the NFL, Facebook Journalism Project, AARP, Black Hollywood Education Resource Center (BHERC), Hyundai, Wells Fargo, Molson Coors, Volkswagen, The United States Census, Comcast Universal, Compassion & Choices, API, Ascension, Nissan, and UAW.

“The NNPA overall is pleased with the impact, the reach and the engagement across the United States and throughout the world for our first virtual convention,” NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., stated.

“This represents a tremendous step forward for the Black Press of America. We note that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Press of America has been able to overcome many of the obstacles that the pandemic continues to present. We plan to rebroadcast the virtual NNPA 2020 convention as soon as we conclude some post-production edits and additions.”

Chavis added that the NNPA remains most grateful to its corporate sponsors for helping to make the first virtual convention a success.

“We intend to let the world know that we appreciate our partners and sponsors and their support,” Chavis declared.

Claudette Perry, the NNPA’s executive administrator, stated that she’s breathing a sigh of relief that the convention was well-received by so many viewers.

“I was very delighted that many of the celebrities whose stories have been conveyed through the Black Press for decades showed their appreciation for our publishers with their congratulatory sentiments on our first virtual convention as well as their recognition of 193 years of the Black Press,” Perry said.

“To the NNPA in-house production team, I say thank you for all the great content and design you brought to the convention virtual space. You are awesome. I thank also the young people on the technology panel who had great advice for us ‘beyond millennials.’”

Perry continued:

“To our corporate partners and sponsors I extend my deepest appreciation for their support of our 2020 convention. The NNPA will continue showing its support for each of you, post-convention and throughout the year.”

Sparking the interests were several important topics and a host of celebrity guests, including livestream interviews and performances by Deniece Williams, Anthony Hamilton, Carlos Santana, Cindy Blackman Santana, Sandra “Salt” Denton, Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman, and journalist Jemele Hill.

“The livestreams were amazing with all of the big names that we had it really brought an element that you don’t always see at a conference, and it really has helped to shine a spotlight on our publishers,” NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards declared. “The shoutouts to the Black Press from people like Magic Johnson, Sen. Kamala Harris, Rep. Maxine Waters, Attorney Joey Jackson, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and the others were simply delightful.”

Richards noted that she’s grateful to the partners and sponsors of the NNPA, and she’s elated that each continues to support the publishers of the Black Press of America.

“That’s who I’m so happy for today,” Richards said.

“Our publishers work so hard, and they have fought the good fight for so long, this conference and what NNPA has put together and accomplished with digital has let the world know how vital the Black Press is and always have been.”

Following opening remarks by Chavis, Richards, and NNPA Convention Chair Terry Jones, Wells Fargo presented a discussion titled, “Navigating Finances through COVID-19,” which was followed by a webinar titled, “Hope, Misinformation, Fear, Sickness and Death: Physicians Discuss the Impact of COVID-19 on Black Communities.”

That physicians’ webinar included nationally-renown African American physicians Ebony Jade Hilton, Leigh-Ann Webb, Taison Bell, Cameron Webb, and Rochanda Mitchell who all are members of the NNPA Coronavirus Task Force.

Terry Jones emphasized, “The Virtual NNPA 2020 Annual Convention was impactful across the nation and throughout the world via print, online and social media. The Black Press retains its relevancy as the trusted voice of Black America.”

A webinar about the Black Press of America’s future engagement and empowerment, included Mississippi Link Publisher Jackie Hampton, AFRO Publisher Dr. Frances Draper, Cincinnati Herald Publisher Jan Michele Kearney, “Make it Plain” host Mark Thompson, and Washington Informer Editor D. Kevin McNeir.

“I thought it was time we show the larger scale folks that we do the same kind of work they do,” McNeir stated during the webinar.

“I’ve been with the Black Press for 25 years. I believe we have a story that is unique and significant, and it has not gotten old. We give the Black story, that’s who we are.”

Day 1 of the conference concluded with the NNPA National Townhall titled, “Education and the Future of Black America, From Pre-K to High School and onto College.”

The education town hall panel included Dr. Peggy Edwards-Jones, Kathryn Procope, and Dr. Elizabeth Primas, program manager of the NNPA Education Public Awareness Program.

The second day of the convention featured webinars on “Technology and Innovation: The Challenges and the Opportunities for the Black Press,” that included data scientists Enchanta Jackson and Jamercia Gray, computer scientist Perry Busby, New York Beacon Associate Publisher Ashley Smith, and Westside Gazette Publisher Bobby Henry Sr. The final webinar of the convention was “Black Millennial Voices and Visions for Transformation,” hosted by Houston Forward Times award winning Associate Editor and BlackPressUSA columnist Jeffrey Boney. The millennial panel included Micha Green, Editor of the Washington, DC AFRO; Lafayette Barnes IV, Editor of The Bridge and Assistant Editor of The Washington Informer; and Franklin Chavis, founder and curator of Black Millennial Voices.

The conference concluded with a star-studded awards ceremony and performances that included a stirring rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend,” by The Temptations, who dedicated their performance to the Black Press, two special songs by Supremes legend Mary Wilson and a pre-recorded performance by Ziggy Marley.

Wilson received the NNPA Lifetime Trailblazer Achievement Award, and Marley received the NNPA Global Icon Award which he dedicated to his legendary parents, Bob and Rita Marley.

“I’ve received many awards throughout my life, but this one feels special to me,” Marley stated in accepting his award. “Music is a powerful tool. Human beings have powerful beings. We can achieve whatever we wish to achieve if we are willing to do what it takes to achieve it. Standing up or kneeling down.”

Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Attorney Ben Crump, Hip-Hop Legend MC Lyte and Congresswoman Karen Bass, Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, were also among those receiving awards.

“Receiving the Outstanding Congressional Leadership Award, I am humble. The work that we have done together over the last few years have been so important to us as a nation, but also to me personally,” Representative Bass stated. “I will take this award and continue to work on behalf of Black America.”

Before concluding the night with a special recorded music mix by DJ D-Nice, hip-hop legend, actor, and entrepreneur Ice Cube received the Artist of the 21st Century Award.

“It’s an amazing honor and would like to thank everyone responsible for getting me this award,” Ice Cube stated. “This is a very cool honor from the Black Press of America. I’ve learned from some of the artist who’ve come before me that just being an artist and not trying to move the social landscape forward in some way, shape, or form is a waste of opportunity.”