Recently there was an issue between the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and the NAACP.
NNPA member publishers had become upset when they discovered that the NAACP had inserted multi-page Viewer’s Guide advertising for its 42nd Image Awards in several markets throughout the US, to the exclusion of African- American newspapers. Upon being informed of this “mis-step,” Chairman, Danny Bakewell called NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous and suggested a meeting to discuss the issue.
NNPA publishers said they felt righteous indignation with the NAACP, as they viewed their actions as being contrary to their joint historical struggles. Since the inception of the Black Press and some 82 years later when the NAACP was born, the two had partnered unconditionally in the fight for freedom and equality.
Consequently, Bakewell invited NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous to attend an NNPA Board of Directors meeting in Washington, DC, to explain his actions. The meeting proved fruitful and initiated renewed commitments by each association to work closer together.
During the meeting NAACP President Ben Jealous said: “I am recommitting the NAACP to advocate for increased ad dollars and support for the Black Press. There is a long and storied history between the Black Press and the NAACP. I, like many of my predecessors, including WEB Dubois and Roy Wilkins, emerged from the Black Press. As an investigative reporter and editor for the Jackson Advocate—the most frequently firebombed Black community newspaper in the country—and former Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the mission and voice of the Black Press is something I personally hold in the highest regard. The NAACP and NNPA share the same mission: the liberation of our people. The Black Press is our voice and the NAACP is a voice for the Black Press. Together we can be a mighty force to speak truth to power.”
NNPA Chairman Danny Bakewell said that he appreciates the frank dialogue between the two groups, as it presents a better understanding of their respective operating procedures, one that will prevent any such “mis-step” in the future.
Bakewell continued, “The 200-member NNPA has always supported and will continue to give voice to NAACP efforts--with or without advertising support.
We give credit to the NAACP for their activities that create interesting copy and graphics. Publication of these events has kept the Black communities aware of the NAACP's actions and leadership team. The circumstance that initially brought us together ultimately proved to be a reminder of the interconnection of our missions, and our groups are closer today as a result. We will forge ahead with a new and profound commitment to work together.” Bakewell added, “I commend President Jealous for his honesty and his apology to the NNPA publishers.
We are brothers in the struggle against racial injustices, and as the NAACP fights the battles in the courts, it is our mission as the Black Press to illuminate the issues and keep our people informed.”
Christopher Fleming of the NAACP and Walter Smith of the NNPA authored this article.