The Nashville PRIDE, dba, Pride Publishing Group, Inc. is in its twenty-fifth year of sharing “The Voice of a Proud Community,” which has not only been the theme, but the goal of this weekly newspaper, since it’s inception by founders, Dr. Larry D. Davis and Dr. Cynthia Hodge.
During this 25 year period Nashville PRIDE, Inc. has grown, changed from a single news publication to a multi-media news service.
Meekahl Davis, President/CEO and co-publisher says that he wants to take this opportunity to thank PRIDE readers, the advertisers, the staff, and affiliates, past and present, for their continued support. “I remember selling our first issue in the freezing cold on Buchanan Street outside Ed’s Fish and Pizza,” said Davis. “I want to thank the community for 25 years wonderful years and many more to come.”
Meekahl, Dr. Davis’ middle son, is now running a second generation newspaper business. He is married and the father of three children, two boys and one girl.
Councilman Navada Scott Davis, younger brother, who is the co-publisher, is also in charge of advertising sales. Councilman Davis said he is simply honored to be a part of the paper. “I feel honored to be a part of Nashville’s longest running African American print media publication,” said Davis. “Working with the paper as a child taught me not to be afraid to stand up for those, who may be unable to stand up for themselves.” Scott is a Political Science graduate of Berthume Cookman College. From an early age, it appeared that he has had a zeal for the “political.” He is married and has one daughter.
In October of 1987, a small two-room office, with a two-person staff and the commitment of the initial financial investment from the co-founders/publishers, Drs. Davis and Hodge, the Nashville PRIDE’s newspaper publishing company began.
The goal was to go to press by December, 1987. It soon became clear that additional expertise was needed. Considerable time and effort was spent in an attempt to identify a competent editorial staff. After several weeks a new publication date was set, January 15, 1988 (the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).
As that date drew near, Davis and Hodge decided to put together that first edition without the assistance and guidance of an editorial staff.
The first edition was distributed on Dr. King’s birthday, receiving overwhelming response, at 25 cents per copy. It appeared that the city was hungry for a black orientated newspaper, even though this response was tempered with the comments of doubters who felt it would not last.
Dr. Larry Davis, a practicing dentist, says that he is proud that his sons are continuing to carry the “torch” forward. “It is my hope and prayer that years after I’ve left this earth, the Nashville PRIDE will still be going strong,” Davis said. “Hopefully, through my sons, their children, and others with a heart to share good news, the PRIDE will continue to be a blessing to the people of Nashville. Surely, it will serve as a beacon for the people of Tennessee, through the affiliate papers.” The Nashville PRIDE serves as the anchor newspaper for The Chattanooga Courier, The Clarksville Press, The Knoxville Enlightener, and the Murfreesboro Vision.
Geraldine D. Heath joined the Nashville PRIDE staff as managing editor and continues to serve in that capacity. She is also an investor in the newspaper.
Hodge reflects on an earlier time
Dr. Cynthia Hodge, co-founder and publisher of the Nashville PRIDE, Inc., reflects on the early days and the challenges of starting a newspaper. “We started the PRIDE for the sole purpose of bringing ‘good news’ to the African American community in Nashville.” Hodge goes on to say, “We knew there were many positive things happening in our community that weren’t being talked about in popular media. [Larry] Davis especially was angered by all the negative coverage of African Americans. He felt it was too one-sided.”
“However, just having good news to share proved not as easy as we thought. We spent many hours writing, editing, proofing, preparing the ‘galleys,’ basically everything was done by hand initially. Then getting it printed was a real challenge. Often times, we would go down to the wire in terms of the deadline to get it to the printer in order to have a paper Friday morning. So I remember waiting for hours in the cold for the printer to open so we could hand them the galleys!”
“We would wait for the printer to print the paper, then take it and deliver it around town to vendors. Alkebulan books was one of the original vendors and advertisers.
“The PRIDE has survived I believe because it is a repository of the positive history in our community. We can be phenomenal, and it should be recorded for our children and for their children.”
Currently, happily retired after thirty years of dentistry, Hodge keeps busy as President of the National Dental Association Foundation, Inc., as well as serving on a number of boards and think-tank panels. “I can’t say I’m surprised that the PRIDE is still publishing, given the commitment we had back then, I would be disappointed if it weren’t! I’m sure it will be around for its fiftieth birthday!”