02-19-2017  1:12 pm      •     
Black Newspapers mastheads

The nation's 250 Black publishers will head to Portland this summer for the National Newspaper Publishers Association 2014 convention.  

In past years the convention has visited Atlanta, Ga., New York, Nashville, Tenn., Chicago and Seattle.  This year for the first time the convention will be hosted in Oregon.

“The Portland Observer and I are very fortunate to host this distinguished group,” said Bernie Foster, The Skanner News’ publisher and former vice chair of the NNPA Foundation’s board. “We have members coming from all over the United States and even from Toronto, Canada and the Caribbean.”

The convention, which runs from June 25—28, will be lodged at The Nines Hotel, in downtown Portland. Mayor Hales and other local leaders will welcome the group to Portland. The gathering will include a prayer breakfast, workshops  and an awards gala, as well as opportunities for networking, sightseeing and shopping in Northeast Portland and around the city.

“I am very excited for the NNPA to be coming to the Northwest,” said Portland Observer Publisher Mark Washington.

“I think it is going to be a real extravagant event.   I just wish my brother, the late publisher of the Portland Observer, Charles Washington, was here to see it.  We talked about it for years, how it would be great if it could be hosted here in Portland, Oregon…I have always had respect for Mr. Foster and I know The Skanner and The Portland Observer and will welcome the NNPA to Portland with open arms.”

With hundreds of newspapers reaching a combined audience of some 15 million people, the NNPA continues to play a crucial role in civil rights and economic empowerment for Black Americans.

Historically, Black publishers have played a powerful role in American politics and culture, since the first African American newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, was published in 1827. Its editors were Rev. Samuel Cornish and John B. Russwurm, who famously said,

“Too long have others spoken for us … We wish to plead our own cause.”

The association was founded in 1941 when John Sengstacke of the Chicago Defender invited publishers to a meeting aimed at “harmonizing our energies in a common purpose for the benefit of Negro journalism.”

Some of the most influential journalists in the history of the American Press have worked for Black newspapers. Among them:  Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Ida B. Wells Barnett, Langston Hughes, Romare Bearden, James Weldon Johnson, Mary McLeod Bethune and Daisy Bates.

The Black Press gallery, which features publishers who have made significant contributions to Black journalism, is housed at Howard University, and the Black Press archives are stored at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, also at Howard.  

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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. 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