Last updated on October 3rd, 2017 at 06:43 am
More than 200 publishers and their associates were in Nashville at the Hutton Hotel last week for the NNPA Annual Convention held from June 26-29. The theme this year was ‘The Voice of the Black Community.’
One of the highlights of the convention was a message given at Friday’s ‘Education and the Black Press’ luncheon, given by Sacramento, Calif. Mayor Kevin Johnson. He warned the audience of a “crisis in public education” in this country that has to be addressed.
“Only 52% of our third and fourth graders are reading at grade level,” said Johnson. “If you’re Black, only 16% of our kids in the third and fourth grade are reading at grade level. To make matters worse, if you’re not reading at grade level by the time you leave the third grade, 75% of the kids never catch up.
“So, essentially if you can’t read by the time you leave the third grade, the chances of you ever reading are very slim. This should be enough to outrage every single person in this room when 84% of the kids who look like us cannot read.”
Johnson said that education should be a top priority, but first we have to be aware there’s a problem. He said the community needs to be aware, and shared a quote from Harriet Tubman:
“As good as freedom is, I’m willing to go back and share it with some other people,” Tubman said.
Johnson also said that in an interview Tubman described what it was like to save so many people from slavery.
“Three hundred saved feels good,” she said. “I could have saved thousands more had they known they were slaves.”
Johnson posed the question of whether or not education is a civil rights issue.
“I know some of us got nice clothes, drive a cool car and live in good neighborhoods,” he said. “That’s not enough. We win and we lose as a race. It’s going to take all of us collectively to do our part to change those dismal numbers. The role of the Black press is more important today than it has ever been, in my opinion.”
He also said that the next time he is invited to speak, he would like to discuss the economy, reminding the group: “You’ve got to be economically liberated to become free.”
There was an air of excitement when the time for the NNPA Legacy Awards Dinner was held Friday evening. The master of ceremonies was Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones. Legacy Awards honorees were Jim Farmer and Jesse Jackson, Sr. Newly elected officers of the organization were also named as well as the winners in various categories of the organization’s member newspapers.
The week began with the Chairman’s Welcome Reception where Drs. Larry Davis and Cynthia Hodge, co-founders of the Nashville PRIDE were given Community Recognition Awards. The Nashville PRIDE was one of the hosts for the convention.
Other guests included Councilman Scott Davis, publisher of the Nashville PRIDE; Rosetta Perry, publisher, Tennessee Tribune; Terry B. Jones, New Orleans Data News, chairing the convention; Tenn. state Sen. Thelma Harper; Nashville Mayor Karl Dean; Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover, president, Tennessee State University; Dr. Forrest E. Harris, president, American Baptist College; Roland S. Martin, journalist; Ralph McDaniels, journalist; Sheryl Lee Ralph; and other persons of note.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association, also known as the Black Press of America, is a 69-year-old federation of more than 200 Black community newspapers from across the United States.