02-19-2017  1:19 pm      •     


In the annals of African American journalism, few names are as revered as that of A. Philip Randolph. His publication, The Messenger, set the standard for the unflinching, incisive character that is the hallmark of the Black press.
That's why it's such an honor for The Skanner to receive an award in Randolph's name.
The Skanner has been named the recipient of a first-place A. Philip Randolph Messenger Award in the Responsibility category for Helen Silvis' article, "Group Offers to Help Desperate Parents," published in the March 9, 2005 edition of The Portland Skanner. Ms. Silvis' story details the efforts of Parents Anonymous, an organization dedicated to aiding families who have been ravaged by addiction.
The Messenger Awards are presented by the Miller Brewing Co. to members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the nationwide network of African American newspapers, at the organization's annual convention. This year's convention and award ceremony took place in June in Seattle, Wash.
Although The Skanner has won Messenger Awards before, this is the first time that the newspaper has earned top honors in a particular category — an accomplishment for which the paper's management and staff take justifiable pride.
"I'm proud of the award, and proud of the job that we do every week," said The Skanner Publisher Bernie Foster. "It's an indication of the responsibility that minority-owned newspapers take to look out for the best interests of our community.
"One of declared values in our mission statement is that we are responsible for the health and vitality of our own community, and this award definitely signifies that for us. It's people like Helen Silvis who help make us what we are today."
The Randolph legacy is indeed a powerful one. Randolph's trailblazing work with The Messenger — in which he advocated for the immediate affirmation of civil rights for African Americans, for broad economic reforms and for the abolition of racism within the labor movement — attracted the attention in 1925 of four New York railway porters. At the time, railway porters around the country were overwhelmingly Black, and the four New Yorkers judged that the time was ripe for them to organize — and that Randolph was the man to carry their standard.
A 12-year struggle ensued to improve the harsh working conditions and poor pay of the porters in the employ of the Pullman Palace Rail Car Co. Finally, in 1937, the company sat down at the bargaining table with Randolph and his associates, and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters won its first union contract.
But Randolph didn't stop there. He went on to persuade President Franklin Roosevelt to desegregate the country's defense industries, and motivated President Truman to desegregate the U.S Armed Forces. In 1963, Randolph organized the March on Washington, and recruited the Rev. Martin Luther King. Jr. to deliver the keynote speech. He went on to found the A. Philip Randolph Institute, which helped more than 50,000 African American men and women find employment in skilled union positions.
"Salvation for a race, nation or class must come from within," Randolph once said. "Freedom is never granted; it is won. Justice is never given; it is exacted.
"Freedom and justice must be struggled for by the oppressed of all lands and races, and the struggle must be continuous; for freedom is never a final fact, but a continuously evolving process to higher and higher levels of human, social, economic, political and religious relationships."
It is indeed an honor to be the recipient of an award bearing Randolph's name, and a privilege to continue his legacy. The Skanner salutes Ms. Silvis for her outstanding journalism, and our readers for their continuing support.

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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