From left, participants including Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis, Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, Rev. Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network, and Phyllis Giles, mother of Michael Giles, march to the Florida Capitol Monday, March 10, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla. Participants were rallying against the state's 'Stand Your Ground' laws. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – (NNPA) Cleopatra and Nathaniel A. Pendleton, Sr., parents of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendelton, who was fatally shot in the back while standing in a park after taking her final examination at King College Prep High School in Chicago on Jan. 29, 2013, and Ron Davis and Lucy McBath, parents of Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old who was shot to death November 23, 2012 in Jacksonville, Fla. by Michael Dunn on a convenience store parking lot after an argument over loud music being played by Davis and three teenage companions riding in a Dodge Durango sports utility vehicle, will be honored as part of Black Press Week as “Newsmakers of the Year.”
The parents of the slain teens will be presented with NNPA Foundation’s “Newsmaker of the Year Award” at dinner on Thursday, March 20. At that same event, former North Carolina Congressman Melvin L. Watt, the first director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, will be presented the Torch Award for Political Achievement. Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., leader of the Wilmington Ten and president and CEO of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, will be presented the Torch Award for Religious Achievement.
Florida resident Michael Dunn, who is White, fired 10 shots into the SUV carrying the four Black teenagers even after it was speeding away. Three of the shots struck Davis and the other seven shots missed his friends. The jury found Dunn guilty of three counts of attempted murder, but deadlocked on a second-degree murder charge in connection with Davis’ death. Bullets fired by Dunn pierced Davis’ liver, a lung and his aorta.
Dunn testified that he thought he saw a gun sticking out of the Dodge Durango, but no weapon was found or seen by any witnesses at the scene. Dunn never reported the shooting to police and was arrested after witnesses recorded his tag number and gave it to police.
In Chicago, young Pendleton was killed one week after participating in the second inauguration events of President Barack Obama. First Lady Michelle Obama, whose home was just a mile away from the shooting, attended Hadiya’s funeral. The president mentioned Hadiya’s death in his 2013 State of the Union address as her parents sat as honored guests in the first lady’s box. The two suspects arrested in connection with Hadiya’s death told police that she was standing in a group that was mistaken for members of a rival gang.
“We know there’s nothing anyone can do to bring back Hadiya Pendleton or Jordan Davis, but we wanted their parents to know that the nation not only mourns their loss, but rededicates itself to reducing senseless gun violence that is all too common in our communities,” said Mary G. Denson, publisher of The Windy City Word in Chicago and chair of the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation, the sponsor of Black Press Week.
Cloves C. Campbell, Jr., publisher of the Arizona Informant and chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a federation of approximately 200 newspapers, said: “The deaths of Hadiya and Jordan were stark reminders that all of us must redouble our efforts to rid our communities of violence. The loss of any life is a tragedy and the loss of teenagers with their future ahead of them is particularly appalling and totally unacceptable.”
Also Thursday, March 20, Charles W. Tisdale, the late publisher of the Jackson Advocate, the oldest Black-owned newspaper in Mississippi, and the late M. Paul Redd, publisher of the Westchester County (N.Y.) Press, will be inducted into the Distinguished Black Publishers Enshrinement Ceremony at HowardUniversity. Tisdale, died in 2007 at the age of 80.
“Charles Tisdale purchased an innocuous, nearly defunct weekly newspaper in 1978, transformed it into a strident voice for African Americans and poor whites in Mississippi, then endured the wrath of those who wanted to silence the paper – and him,” the Los Angeles Times observed in an obituary. “The office of the Jackson Advocate was attacked – firebombed, riddled with bullets, burglarized, ransacked – at least 20 times over the years. Tisdale often received death threats.”
Redd, who purchased his newspaper in 1986, died Jan. 9, 2009 of a heart attack at age of 80. He wrote a column called “M. Paul Tells All” for more than 40 years. He was a major figure in Democratic politics in New York, serving as Rye City Democratic County Committeeman for 46 years. He was also vice chairman of the Westchester County Democratic Committee. Whether through his newspaper or his political activities, he was always urging African Americans to become more active in politics as a means of improving the Black community.
The NNPA will visit the office of the National Republican Committee on Wednesday to hear about their outreach efforts and visit the White House on Friday for a briefing on President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” Black male initiative.
On the morning of Friday, March 21, a breakfast panel on confronting HIV/AIDS titled, “Black Press and the Black Pulpit,” will be moderated by Rev. Walter Silva Thompson Jr., Pastor, Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, Jamaica, N.Y. Panelists will included Rev. Dr. Kendrick E. Curry, Senior Pastor, Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church, Washington, D.C. ; Rev. Dr. Lewis Brogdon, Director, Black Church Studies Program, Louisville Seminary; Rev. Yvonne Cooper, Associate Minister, Allen Chapel AME Church, Washington, D.C. and Pastor Frances “Toni” Draper, Freedom Temple AME Zion Church, Baltimore, Md.
Black Press Week activities will conclude with a luncheon Friday, March 21, at the National Press Club featuring a panel discussion on Black economic empowerment. Moderated by NNPA News Service Editor-in-Chief George E. Curry, the panel will consist of Maggie Anderson, founder of The Empowerment Experiment and author, Our Black Year, a book that catalogues the Anderson family spending a year buying only products and services produced by African Americans; Dr. William Spriggs, Chair of the Department of Economics and Howard University and former Assistant Secretary of Labor in the Obama administration, and Dr. Valerie Ralston Wilson, newly-appointed Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.