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The Black Voice News: An Open Door to the Community for Three Decades

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In 1980, Hardy and Cheryl Brown bought The Black Voice News and formed Brown Publishing Company.  They had been active community leaders and budding community journalists.   Hardy was known as the City Editor of the Black Voice News and The American News.  And Cheryl, the first Black planner in the county of San Bernardino, was known for her journalistic contributions o­n community events, religious events, and later her published images of the famous and not-so-famous.  As young publishers, they worked every week, often spending late hours at the office, never missing a deadline.

When they took over the publication, its circulation was 500.  There was no staff.  There were no employees.  They were virtually a two-person operation.  As publishers they prescribed to a mission and value driven philosophy in the spirit of the Black Press: giving a voice to the voiceless and disenfranchised.  The newspaper and its o­nline edition now tout a combined circulation of 32,000.

As publishers, the Browns have been consistent in their fight for social justice in the Inland Empire. When Jack Clarke became the first Black to run for city council in the City of Riverside, they endorsed him, beginning what has become a longstanding tradition of political endorsements and strong editorial opinions.  Hardy Brown’s down home wit, candor, and detailed research can be read every week o­n the Black Voice’s commentary page.

When the City of San Bernardino entered a float in the Rose Bowl Parade and wouldn’t allow the Black History Queen to ride o­n it, the publishers published their objections, sparking a community debate about the culture of racism that plagued the city.  When the Browns discovered that there were no Blacks o­n city commissions in Riverside, they published articles and changed the face of those commissions.

When they found that Community Block Grant Funds, targeted for underserved communities, were being used to build tennis courts in an affluent Riverside area, they joined forces with the NAACP to protest the misappropriation.

In the 1980’s when Tony Evans, then-president of Cal State University San Bernardino, wrote a memo questioning the academic abilities of African American students, the Black Voice broke the story.  And when Tyisha Miller, a 19-year-old Rubidoux resident, was shot 15 times by four Riverside police officers, The Black Voice News was relentless in its coverage of the shooting and the aftermath.

As a record of the community’s history, obituaries are published o­n the front page.  During graduation season, graduates are highlighted in their own special supplement.  Recognizing the demands that fast growing communities encounter, the publishers implemented its Building Better Communities initiative, focusing o­n health, economic development, civic responsibility, public safety, and education within the Inland Empire’s Black communities and communities of color.

For much of their efforts, the publishers have received numerous regional and national accolades including being named Publisher of the Year by their peers and selected as the o­nly living publishers to be highlighted in the Miller’s Gallery of Greats honoring 175 years of the Black Press of America. The Black Voice News continues to also be awarded by community organizations and businesses for interminable devotion and dedication to the community.

The future of the newspaper is slowly shifting to the next generation of Brown family publishers, as daughters Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds and Regina Brown begin the transition to newspaper stewardship.

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