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Black Newspaper Publishers Conference Brings Out Black Leaders

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NNPA Chairman Danny Bakewell Sr. Passes Mantle of Leadership to Arizona’s Cloves Campbell Jr.

By Jasmyne A. Cannick, NNPA National Correspondent –

CHICAGO, IL – Led by Chairman and Sentinel publisher Danny Bakewell Sr., over 200 Black newspaper publishers from all over the country gathered at Chicago’s legendary Drake Hotel for several days of robust conversations on the future of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, also known as the Black Press of America.

The conference kicked off with Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III, Senior Pastor of the Dallas, Texas based Friendship-West Baptist Church, who addressed the significance and historic relevance of the relationship between the pulpit and the press. In front of hundreds of attendees, Haynes eloquently retold the history of Blacks in the United States pointing out role that the Black Press has traditionally had in African-American communities as the drumbeat of communication.

NNPA publishers made history when Mr. Bakewell announced a historic new partnership between Nielsen and the NNPA that will produce an annual report entitled the NNPA Nielsen State of the African-American Consumers Report with its inaugural release to take place later this year at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Conference in Washington D.C.

“This report will be able to put into black and white and more importantly quantitative data the shopping habits and spending power of Blacks in America,” remarked Mr. Bakewell.

Spearheaded on the Nielsen side by Vice-President of Public Affairs Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, who says that, “over the next three years the report will be issued in September at the CBC conference and it will provide America with a snapshot of the African-American consumer in one report. This is a first for Nielsen and we’re very excited because we’ve never ever done anything like this before, but we understand the importance of having this information available.”

“While a lot of our readers appreciate our editorial coverage of Black America,” explains Mr. Bakewell, “many have no idea that what they’re reading is just one part of what it takes to put out a newspaper. “The partnerships and relationships that the Black Press hold with corporate America is key to making sure that we are able to share the African-American experience. The Nielsen partnership is just one example of such a relationship.”

NNPA corporate partners representing Ford, GM, Nielsen and Wells Fargo attended the Chicago conference and participated in a conversation led by Mr Bakewell on the future of these partnerships.

“The Black Press is tried, tested, and true when it comes to Black America,” explained Mr. Bakewell. “African-Americans trust us and our partners and that results in increased brand loyalty for our partners.”

Nationally syndicated journalist George Curry moderated a discussion with some of America’s leading advertising agencies that specialize in African-American marketing including the Chicago-based Burrell’s Communications, Carol H. Williams Advertising, Flowers Communications, GlobalHue, and Uniworld Group.

Reverend Al Sharpton, civil rights leaders and founder of the National Action Network addressed the issue of unity among African-American leaders as well their responsibility to work with the Black Press in order to ensure that our issues are front and center to keep Black America aware and engaged that the struggle continues on.

Later, Sharpton and Dr. Cornel West sat down for a conversation moderated by journalist George Curry in front of a SRO (standing room only) crowd and streaming live on the Internet to thousands on the state of Blacks during President Barack Obama’s administration.

Other Black leaders in attendance at this year’s conference included Dr. Charles J. Ogletree who moderated a discussion on Black leadership that included panelists Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Rev. Al Sharpton, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Rev. Marcia Dyson, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, and Dr. Cornel West.

The legendary Motown group the Temptations provided the entertainment at the NNPA Legacy of Excellence Dinner and Awards where Trumpet Awards founder Xernona Clayton and Miami Times publisher Garth C. Reeves were honored.

Additionally, NNPA hosted its annual coveted Merit Awards for publishing and editorial excellence. This year’s winners included The Miami Times for General Excellence, the New Pittsburgh Courier received the Robert S. Aboott Best Editorial Award, and the Final Call’s Akbar Muhammad took home the Emory O. Jackson Best Column Writing. At the conclusion of the four-day conference NNPA’s body of publishers voted on a new board of directors and executive committee resulting in the passing of the leadership mantle from Chairman Danny Bakewell Sr. to Arizona Informant publisher and former state legislator the Honorable Cloves Campbell Jr.

Mr. Bakewell who has served at the helm of NNPA for the past two years declined to run for re-election in an effort to focus on growing his two newspapers, the Los Angeles Sentinel and the L.A. Watts Times as well as spend more time with his family.

Although Mr. Bakewell is no longer the organization’s president, he still plans on being actively involved in NNPA and is both delighted and excited at Mr. Campbell assuming the leadership role for NNPA.

“Cloves will be an excellent leader for NNPA,” said Mr. Bakewell. “Over the past two years I’d hoped to lay a foundation for this eventual passing of the mantle so that the next president would inherit an NNPA that was both financially secure and stronger than when I assumed the role. I think that through my work and the work of NNPA’s board and member publishers that’s been accomplished.”

NNPA’s other elected officers include the Atlanta Inquirer’s John Smith as 1st Vice-Chair, Mollie Finch Belt publisher of the Dallas Examiner as 2nd Vice-Chair, Cleretta Blackmon with the Mobile Beacon in Alabama as Secretary, and Yvonne Coleman, publisher of the Louisville Defender serving as Treasurer. Each executive committee officers will serve for two years.

“We’re going to go continue with what Danny [Bakewell] started in terms of advertising and in terms of being a voice for the African-American community,” said Mollie Finch Belt, publisher of the Dallas Examiner.

Atlanta Inquirer publisher John B. Smith Sr. said that he gives kudos to Mr. Bakewell for his outstanding leadership.

“Mr. Bakewell’s leadership is unparalleled to any previous administration including my own and this is in part due to all of the wonderful things he has done for the NNPA.” He continues, “Danny Bakewell has been outstanding leader and he has taken all of us members of the Black Press to unprecedented heights. Though he has passed the baton to a younger generation his stalwart support is evident by the character that we all possess going forward in growing NNPA and by our willingness to become better chaplains for the better good as well as to remain vigilant in our efforts to promote our beloved communities.

The leadership that Cloves Campbell Jr. will exhibit will be unprecedented in the 61-year history of NNPA. We have one of the best teams that has ever been assembled since NNPA started in1940 and through Mr. Campbell’s leadership we’ll see a stronger federation of newspapers for years to come.”

Outgoing Chair of the NNPA Foundation and publisher of the Crusader Newspapers in Chicago, Illinois and Gary, Indiana Dorothy R Leavell said, “We were devastated upon first receiving the news that Mr. Bakewell wasn’t running for re-election—and there were those of us including myself who wondered whether Cloves [Campbell Jr.] was mature enough to handle the position. But my doubts vanished when I first heard him speak. Cloves showed us older publishers that he has respect for us and our history. In Cloves, I see the wisdom that he’s learned from being involved with NNPA and the vigor and energy that comes with being a young man with fresh legs. The guidance that Mr. Bakewell will provide him through this transition period will help him succeed and I am assured that we are in safe hands. I pledge my full support to him.”

On Mr. Bakewell’s leaving the Chairmanship she continued, “We all just want to thank Danny Bakewell for his two years of service as he has certainly set a high bar for anyone following in his footsteps.”

For more highlights from NNPA’s annual conference please log onto http://www.nnpa.org/

Rapper, Producer Diddy Settles Civil Suits with Victims in 1999 Nightclub Shooting

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers –

More than a decade after Sean “Diddy” Combs' legal woes surfaced after a shooting at a New York nightclub, the hip-hop mogul has settled all civil actions filed against him.

The New York Post recently reported that Diddy, his former artist Jamal "Shyne" Barrow and the now-defunct nightclub struck a deal with the three club-goers who were harmed in the bar fight in 1999, according to court records.

While many of the parties were required to stay silent on the settlement due to a confidentiality agreement, the nightclub's former owner Michael Bergos wasn't bound by the deal and revealed specific details.

Bergos explained to the Post that Natania Reuben, the most seriously injured shooting victim, received $1.8 million. Reuben, 40, was shot in the nose and suffered seizures following the incident due to several bullet fragments still stuck in her face. According to Reuters, she filed a $130 million lawsuit for compensation back in 2008.

The two other victims received $500,000 and $50,000. He added that he was unsure about who was paid what amount in the deal because his portion and Barrow's were taken care of by their insurance companies. Combs, on the other hand, was forced to cover his share of the settlement out of pocket because his insurance company has since closed.

Barrow fired the shots that evening after Combs' group got involved in an argument with another club attendee. While charges against Combs and then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez were dropped, Barrow was convicted on two counts of assault, gun possession and reckless endangerment. The rapper then served nine years out of a 10-year sentence and was released in 2009. The rapper was then deported back to his native Belize following his release.

In 2004, Barrow, who had always claimed innocence in the shooting, told MTV News that he was acting in self-defense.

"I'm a regular guy, man”, Barrow told MTV News. "I'm not tougher than nobody. I'm no better than nobody. I know real killers. I know people that really snatch bodies. I'm not that. I just did what I had to do. Somebody pulled out a .40 caliber and I had to pull mine out or I was gonna die."

'X-Offenders' Fight Barriers to Employment

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By Rebecca Nuttall, Special to the NNPA from the New Pittsburgh Courier –

Last year, Gov. Ed Rendell’s office received nearly 600 clemency requests. Of those requests, the pardon board reviewed half and of those 358 requests reviewed, nearly 140 people received public hearings. Ultimately, in the year 2010, 119 pardons were recommended.

However, under the new administration, the pardon board will only hold three public hearings per year and at these hearings only 33 individuals will have the chance to plead their case before the pardon board. Regardless of the number of request for clemency, this means less than 100 people will have the chance to receive a pardon each year.

“We’re going to continue to do what we do and hopefully at some point we’ll do some organizing around it. There needs to be some direct action on the pardon board to go back to the old system,” said Wayne Jacobs, co-founder and executive director of X-offenders for Community Empowerment in Philadelphia. “This process, when the prior administration was in office, we had eight public hearings a year. Now that this administration is in, we have four a year and only 33 will be heard (at each hearing).”

Jacobs asks that ex-offenders be referred to as people who were formerly convicted.

Without a pardon, many formerly convicted people find themselves unable to find employment. In light of this reality, the group XCE is working to lessen the barriers to employment for people with criminal records.

“I’m a formerly convicted person. I have over 30 years going in and out of the jailhouse. Millions of us are getting convicted everyday, getting disenfranchised. I felt our community needed an activist organization to work for our interests,” Jacobs said. “We noticed there was a large segment of the population who were crime free for 5, 10, 15, or even 20 years that were being judged on their past history not their current history.”

XCE, which was founded in 2000, works to remove the legal barriers to employment, housing, education, public benefits, jury service, and driver’s license restoration, as well as to increase voter participation. At a “Pardon Me” workshop hosted at the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh on earlier this month, Jacobs and local XCE Director Dean Williams met with formerly convicted participants to walk them through the process of requesting a pardon. When one receives a pardon, the question have you been convicted of a crime is taken off the employment application.

“They did some research on people who have been formerly convicted and on their likelihood to reoffend. If a person is home for four years or more, they are as likely to reoffend as anyone who has never been convicted of a crime,” Jacobs said. “They deserve a second chance because they earned it. When they talk about people who have been formerly convicted, they lump us all into one class.”

Since pardons are often hard to come by, XCE is tackling the issue of employment from another angle. Earlier this year in Philadelphia, as part of their “Ban the box” campaign, the group worked to pass legislation requiring the removal of the question on applications asking about a person’s criminal history.

“We have been successful at getting issues addressed for our people. ‘Ban the box’ gives them a second chance. It takes the box off the application,” Jacobs said. “The question would be asked, but towards the end of the process. Employers would know who they’re hiring.”

District 9 Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess proposed similar legislation in April, but it did not gain traction in city council. Jacobs said the locally proposed legislation was inadequate because it only pertained to city employees.

“That bill is dead. It only had the hiring of city employees and most of what the city does is contract out, so it would’ve never had an impact. We want to include vendors, grantees, and if the city has the power, private employees,” Jacobs said. “The bill that was introduced was not strong enough or adequate. It neglected to include a lot of other opportunities. By the bill not having those types of things included, it wouldn’t have had the same impact.”

Despite his work with the formerly convicted, Jacobs has never applied for a pardon from the governor for himself.

“I have not applied because I don’t have a need to. My background helps me rather than hurts me because I work with formerly convicted people,” Jacobs said. “I might do it one day just to do it, but I don’t need to.”

Civil War Re-enactor On An Education Mission

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Special to the NNPA from The Charlotte Post –

NEW BERN - Bernard George dons the blue wool uniform of a U.S. Colored Troops Civil War soldier to celebrate the role of African-Americans in claiming their freedom.

A member of the N.C. African American Heritage Commission and New Bern Historical Society, George travels the country on a mission of education by re-enacting the role Black warriors played in the conflict between the United States and Confederate States.

“We are always the most photographed group at re-enactments; it’s such a well-hidden story of U.S. Colored Troops and sailors during the Civil War,” he said.

Re-enactors can give a reality to history that the written word can’t, said Jeffrey Crow, deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources and co-author of “A History of African Americans in North Carolina.”

“The immediacy of another living person representing an earlier time allows people to connect in a way that they can’t with books. That is even truer when the recorded history is limited or misunderstood.”

George re-enacts as a member of the N.C. Colored Volunteers, a group recruited in New Bern and part of the First African Brigade. When he’s not re-enacting, George is a New Bern city planner, historian, and community volunteer. As a member of the AAHC, he helps ensure that African-American history and culture are appreciated.

“My grandfather told me when I was a young boy that his grandfather was a soldier. His grandfather fought for the Union,” George said. “I was concerned that this was contradictory to what I had learned in history. But when I went off to college, I learned there was a cornucopia of experiences of African- Americans during the Civil War.”

Through oral history from his grandfather and father, George learned that his family was free and had come from the Tidewater Virginia area to New Bern about 300 years ago. Documents from the 1700s at the Craven County courthouse further substantiate this history, along with family records. He notes that free Blacks in N.C. were the thesis subject for eminent historian John Hope Franklin.

As a re-enactor, George finds many adults do not know the story of Blacks fighting for their freedom in the war and during Reconstruction. He said African-Americans are particularly drawn, because most Civil War re-enactors are usually white.

“It is important to talk with and re-educate people,” George said. “As more historical research and study is done, we are shifting the paradigm and a more complete truth of American history will be known.”

Denzel Washington Joins Steve Harvey in DFW

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By Jihad Hassan Muhammad, Special to the NNPA from The Dallas Examiner –

At a glance, people may look at Steve Harvey and his accomplishments and possibly only see him as an entertainer. On television, he is the host of one of the longest airing game shows of all time, Family Feud and also The Steve Harvey Project. On the radio, his syndicated show, The Steve Harvey Morning Show, reaches millions of listeners daily. On the road, he recently started a comedy and gospel tour with local Grammy award winning gospel artist, Kirk Franklin. He is also a best-selling author and comedy icon.

What do his accomplishments mean to the average young man hanging on the streets, growing up without a father figure or a single mother to help her son become a man? Well, as statistics point out, close to 70 percent of African American children live in single parent homes.

His accomplishments have great meaning to hundreds of young men and their mothers whose lives he touches each summer. Harvey uses what he has learned and gained throughout his lifetime to give back to the community. Each summer, he takes time out of his schedule to mentor young men from across the country, which he brings to his private ranch located in the Dallas area.

For the past three years, Harvey has opened up his 120 acre ranch to more than 100 young men during the Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend, a four-day/three-night program that aims to teach the principles of manhood, how they can be better emotionally, economically and overall.

“Steve Harvey is doing a lot of great things by reaching out to those who are less fortunate, and any time you are doing something like that we have an obligation to reach and help out in any way you possibly can. So anytime they call me out here to speak on those issues – to be a part of this – I feel obligated, I can’t turn that down,” Stephen A. Smith, ESPN sports anchor, said. Smith was one of many famous and influential people who came to help mentor the youth.

Other mentors included: Academy award winning actor, Denzel Washington; Jermaine Dupri, hip-hop icon and multi-platinum producer; Terrance J of BET’s 106 and Park; Will Packer, movie producer, who has brought to the world such films as This Christmas, Stomp The Yard, Obsession and Takers; Myles Kovacs, founder of DUB Magazine and self-made millionaire and many more.

“I just flew in from L.A. where I’m in pre-production on my new movie I’m doing based on Steve Harvey’s book, called ‘Think Like a Man,’ he [Harvey] called me and told me about the program and I said there is no way I can’t be involved. I have to be involved,” Packer said.

Upon arrival, the young men had the opportunity to receive a free haircut and image consulting before sitting down to a Texas steak dinner with welcome from Harvey. During their stay, they participated in early morning boot camp style exercises, fishing, football, basketball, and paintball.

There were a number of workshops that cultivated the principles of manhood and self-determination, such as: You Can Be Me Panel Session; Looking Good and Feeling Healthy; Conversations with Jermaine Dupri; Life Opportunities (Discipline & Motivation); Teen Distracted Driving and a Music 101 and Do-It-Yourself.

Harvey chose Black leaders from across the country, such as, Dr. Steve Perry, CNN contributor and principal/founder of Capital Preparatory Magnet School; D’Wayne Edwards, of PENSOLE School of Footwear Design; Dr. Albert Cheek, Alex O. Ellis, of Tied to Greatness; Kevin Folkes of SoftSheen-Carson; motivational coach Jonathan Sprinkles; CSM Hershel Turner, of the U.S. Army; Lt. Tommy Elkins of the National Guard; Carlos Treadway, of Ford Motor Company; Benjamin Raymond, of State Farm; KRNB Radio’s Benny Pough and Azim Rashid; Enoch Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam; and Marvin Ellison, from Home Depot.

One youth expressed that his best learning experience was through the Hip-Hop Detox Workshop.

“It expressed to us how not to conform to today’s society, and how to overcome the negative things, said Nicholas Young, a 15-year-old from Waldorf, Maryland.

During the sessions, the youth were coached on behaviors and work ethics needed to fulfill their visions. Many heard personal stories of struggle and triumph from the mentors.

“I was told I wasn’t good enough. People my whole life have told me, I was too small, too skinny, not smart enough, and eventually I interned at BET for over a year and a half, just learning everything, then one day after living on the floor, struggling, not paying rent, I got the biggest job on the network hosting 106 and Park … So never let anybody tell you that you can’t live out your dream,” Terrance J told them.

For a young man, Hakim Elam, a teenager from Los Angeles, California, this was an experience extremely special to him.

“I’m in a situation where I can’t walk right now and being around these other kids my age and even some whose experience is worse than mine right now, I have learned from this, and will always embrace everything taught to me this weekend,” he stated.

Mentors expressed that the weekend was a very important and positive experience to them, as well as to the youth.

“Just growing up being raised by a single parent, by my mom …” Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Shaun Smith said, pointing out the similarities between him and the youth. “A lot of these young guys don’t have a father, so what Steve is doing is giving them an experience to last a lifetime.”

Harvey recently received the Humanitarian Award during the BET Awards. That portion will highlight moments of his life, from 1957 – when he was still known as Broderick Steven Harvey – to present.

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