Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. the fiery chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, who gained a national reputation for challenging corporate America for fair advertising dollars over the past two years, has announced he will not seek re-election at the end of his tenure this week.
"Over the past two years, as promised, I have moved us toward the goal of returning NNPA to its rightful place as one of the most powerful and influential institutions in Black America," Bakewell wrote in a May 19 letter to the more than 200 Black newspaper publishers also called the Black Press of America. "It is my hope that the vision of responsible fiscal stewardship and securing advertising for all publishers, which the board of directors and I established and implanted during my administration, will continue with the next administration."
He continued, "I believe that the new leadership follows this vision, which has established a solid foundation and illuminated the path toward economic empowerment, it will continue to guide us into a bright future."
In addition to his desire to spend more time with his wife and family, Bakewell, who could not be reached for comment at Trice Edney Wire deadline, mentioned in his letter that he sees the need to pass the NNPA "leadership mantle to its younger responsible publishers."
NNPA member sources told Trice Edney News Wire that Bakewell, publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, has endorsed the candidacy of Cloves Campbell, publisher of the nearly 45-year-old Arizona Informant and former member of the Arizona House of Representatives. Campbell, a current NNPA board member who has held several top leadership positions with NNPA, confirms he is indeed a candidate.
In an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire, Campbell envisioned a continuance of Bakewell's campaign for advertising equality, but intensifying the quest into the digital and online presence of Black newspapers.
"When we look at where we've been in the past and how we've quickly moved back into the forefront of leadership, now we have to make sure that we can deliver on the things that we have promised," Campbell says. He said part of that means assuring that all members accountable to their readerships with timely and professional publications. "But, then secondly, we have to make sure we are a part of the information age in the process - moving into social media and maximizing our opportunities to make money on the Internet as well."
Campbell says he will make sure that all of the papers are at least informed and able to participate in the social media platform and ready to receive advertising in print and with websites.
The annual NNPA Summer Conference will take place in Chicago June 22-25. The election is on Friday, June 24. The first Black newspaper was founded in New York City on March 16, 1827 by Samuel Cornish and John B. Russwurm, making the institution nearly 185 years old. NNPA was founded in 1940. Despite the historical significance, corporations - and even the U. S. government - have long engaged in advertising discrimination, often preferring White-owned publications and other forms of media.
Under the leadership of former Chairman John B. Smith Sr. and NNPA Foundation Chair Dorothy R. Leavell, who is also serving her final term, NNPA was thrust into the national media spotlight with its 2008 presidential forum, featuring Hillary Clinton after then presidential candidate Barack Obama declined the invitation. Following Obama's election, he kept a promise to host the organization at the White House during Black Press Week in March 2009, during which Leavell presented him with NNPA's News Maker of the Year award.
Bakewell, in his frequent visits to Capitol Hill and his vocal challenges to corporate America - including car dealerships and the banking industry - quickly gained a reputation among top civil rights leaders. He was a frequent guest on panels of national organizations and spoke about equity in advertising during a Congressional hearing.
Campbellconcludes: "We just have an opportunity to really deliver the Black Press and the news to the Black community like nobody ever has in the next few years if we follow the blueprint that's out there ... And the Black Press will be out there for a long time."
Editor's Note: Hazel Trice Edney is former editor-in-chief of the NNPA News Service and former interim executive director of the NNPA Foundation.