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Black Publishers to Celebrate 70th Anniversary in New York - Advertising Capital of the World

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By Pharoh Martin, NNPA National Correspondent –

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - The Nation's only association of Black newspaper publishers has chosen to commemorate it's 70th year of existence in New York City - the birth place of the Black press - with a line up of civil rights giants, issues panels, glitzy gathers and a first annual Legacy of Excellence dinner.

The National Newspaper Publishers Association's annual summer convention will take place at New York’s Sheraton Hotel & Towers June 16-19. This year's theme is "Power to Influence Black America."

"Our agenda is how do we find common ground in working together to reinforce the challenges of the Black press with advertising?" said Danny Bakewell, chair of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel. "These companies have mega budgets but they don't advertise with the Black press. Many of our major companies like AT&T, General Motors and Ford have come back online and reunited with the Black Press as major partners."

The week's string of events are expected to draw big name civil rights leaders and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

"It benefits the reputation of NNPA to have all of our colleagues - those who we work with in the struggle - to join us to not only commemorate our 70th anniversary, but also to plan with us and gather with us to focus on how we can work together on our mutual agendas," Bakewell said.

The conference will kick off with a "Press and the Pulpit" breakfast hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton and a lunch with Dr. Bernice King , daughter of civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The following day, a breakfast and lunch is scheduled with Marc Morial, president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League and the Rev. Jesse Jackson followed by a panel where national civil rights leaders will discuss the crisis in Black America. The panel will also include Morial, Jackson, NAACP's president and chief executive Benjamin Jealous, Dr. Michael Lomax, the president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund, Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree and Kathy Times, president of the National Association of Black Journalists.

On Thursday evening, following the MillerCoors A. Philip Randolph Messenger Awards, the annual staple event will take place. That’s the glitzy NNPA Merit Awards gala, hostessed by Black press icon NNPA Foundation Chair Dorothy R. Leavell. Among the string of coveted awards, the top John B. Russwurm Trophy will be given to the newspaper receiving the most points in all 22 Merit Awards categories. Also, for the second year, the Thomas Morgan III Merit Award for HIV/AIDS Education will be given to the NNPA member newspaper which demonstrates the most exemplary original HIV/AIDS coverage from last year.

The first annual Legacy of Excellence dinner gala and awards presentation will anchor the week. The event will award U. S. Rep. Charles Rangel and Motown Records founder Berry Gordy. Lead singer of the O'Jays Eddie Levert will highlight that evening's entertainment.

"Both men represent excellence in achievement that is unmatched," Bakewell said. "They come during a time when they set and achieved goals that prior to them people never would have believed could be accomplished by Black people. They were on the threshold of excellence much like the Black press was on the threshold of excellence. We think that they are befitting to be recognized as representatives of the levels of achievement that occurs in our community all the time by people who refuse to accept barriers as an excuse and accept other people's opinions about what we can do and can't do."

With the founding of the nation's first Black newspaper, the Freedom's Journal, in 1827 by two free Black men, John Russwurm and Rev. Samuel Cornish, New York is the official birthplace of the Black press. Bakewell said that he wants to commission a plate or a cornerstone to memorialize the site of the founding of the first Black newspaper. Today there are historic Black newspapers in New York City that are members of NNPA- the New York Amsterdam News, the New York Beacon, the New York Carib News, and the New York Daily Challenge, as well as eight others around the state and immediate area.

The city also holds the distinction of being the media and advertising capital of the world as well, a particular draw for a media outlet that traditionally lacks the same access to resources as their mainstream counterparts. But, Bakewell is optimistic about the future for Black newspapers.

"This has been a landmark year for the Black press," Bakewell said. "We have resurfaced bigger, bolder than ever and it's because of extraordinary leadership of Black publishers across the country and this is just the beginning."

U.N. Refuses to Cancel Prize Named for Dictator

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Special to the NNPA from the GIN –

(GIN) – A life sciences award administered by the U.N. agency UNESCO and funded by the President of Equatorial Guinea has stirred outrage among the exile community and human rights activists worldwide.

In a letter to the Paris-based UNESCO office, Tutu Alicante of EG Justice wrote: “We repeat our call for the $3 million that UNESCO has accepted from President Obiang to be applied to the education and welfare of Equatoguineans, rather than the glorification of their president.” The money could better be used, he said, to buy school books, benches and other supplies for the poorly financed primary school system.

The UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences is a $300,000 grant to be awarded to up to three scientists each year in the name of Equatorial Guinea's allegedly corrupt and repressive ruler.

Equatorial Guinea is Africa's fourth largest oil producer. Most health and quality-of-life indicators rank the country West African nation near the bottom, with life expectancy at around 50 years old.

Objections were first raised in 2008 by executive board members of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said Alicante. More recently, UNESCO received communications from Equatoguinean human rights defenders, global civil society groups, scholars, and others to cancel the prize without delay.

"We hope you agree that a political leader with this record is not worthy of the positive endorsement of UNESCO," Human Rights Watch wrote. Nevertheless, on April 22 UNESCO informed governments that it plans to award the UNESCO-Obiang prize for the first time at the end of June 2010.

Anti-Apartheid Activist Warned of Rich-Poor Gap

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Special to the NNPA from the GIN –

(GIN) - Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, a scholar, author and former member of the anti-apartheid opposition, died this week at age 70 during treatment for liver and other problems.

Before he died, he signaled the dangers of the growing gap between rich and poor. "I do know from talking to ordinary people that there is a great deal of anger at the conspicuous consumption of the new emerging elite," the former leader said in a press interview.

"The biggest gap at the moment is not between black and white, but between black and black in terms of access to economic opportunities."

Once the rugby-playing son of conservative Afrikaners, Slabbert turned towards multi-racial politics in the late 70s and 80s, opening up dialogue between Afrikaners and the exiled African National Congress.

Later, with rights advocate Alex Boraine, he helped formed the Institute for a Democratic Alternative in South Africa, known as Idasa, to organize meetings between whites and blacks in apartheid South Africa. The group is now the Institute for Democracy in Africa.

Meanwhile, in an unscheduled visit to a Johannesburg slum, President Jacob Zuma said he was nearly reduced to tears when he saw a family's living conditions in a shack he visited there. "You could swear no-one lived in that shack," Zuma told premiers and ministers at the President's Coordinating Council in Pretoria.

There is currently a 2.1 million housing backlog and more than 2,700 informal settlements.

Thousands of Graduates are All Dressed Up With No Place to Go

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By Pharoh Martin, NNPA National Correspondent –

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - Like thousands of recent college graduates who have marched proudly in their caps and gowns, 22-year-old Nikole Pegues' plan is to now get a job. But, how that plan is going to pan out is a little bit of a mystery at this point.

The Queens, New York native, upon receiving her bachelor's degree from Howard University, went from being a college student with high hopes to an unemployment statistic with a six-month countdown to pay back four years of student loans.

"I don't know many people who have paying jobs lined up after graduation," Pegues said. "I only know of two or three."

The good news is that the economy produced 290,000 jobs last month, the largest gain in four years, according the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report. The bad news is that the unemployment rate for African-Americans is an unacceptable 16.5 percent.

Pegues has been sending out resumes since January, but she’s gotten very few responses. Two weeks ago, she received two rejections. But two days following her graduation ceremony she received two calls for interviews.

"I'm not sure if companies were waiting on me to graduate or what," she said.

Her back-up plan is to start applying to jobs completely out of her field.

"It really hurts me to think that I've spent four years in school and spent about $100,000 dollars to end up working in a field that is not related to my degree,” Pegues said. “In the same breath, six months out I have to start paying on my school loans."

And as a very last resort, if she is still unable to find some type of gainful employment, she'd be willing to drive herself further into debt and apply to graduate master's programs in an attempt to become even more competitive. But, while searching for options, the impact on self-esteem can be grueling.

"What's wrong with me where I'm not competitive enough? Why am I not getting a response that I thought I would? I felt entitled,” she said. “I thought once I got a college degree I'm entitled to a job, that's just how this was supposed to work. You're told your whole life, "If you go to college you'll get a degree and make 'X' amount of money.""

Carol Dudley, director of career development for Howard University's School of Communications, is sending job leads to the hundreds of other students and graduates who are scrambling for positions. She said that while full fledged jobs are still hard to come by for post-recession graduates, many are taking advantage of post-graduate internships to get a foot inside with employers.

"The trend I'm noticing is that employers are not yet ceasing all of their jobs but what they are offering are college graduates post-graduate internships,” Dudley said. “They are paid. And you [are] expected to work full-time as a permanent employee."

The benefit to the company is that they don't have the permanent commitment to somebody that may not workout. But at the same time, the person interning will have an opportunity for permanent employment after their internship ends, which is typically in about 8-12 weeks.

Internships are good for temporary income, but they are not stable.

Jan Challenger, a recent graduate from City University New York- Brooklyn College, will be working on a 10-week paid internship for a company in Philadelphia for the summer.

Unfortunately, she's not counting on getting hired afterward.

"I wanted a job but because they are in bankruptcy even if I do well I won't get a job,” Challenger said. “After that, I really don't know what the future holds."

The internship will still give Challenger some tangible work experience and maybe a few contacts in her field.

"What job recruiters are looking for, and I don't think this ever changes, is someone who is skilled, confident and knowledgeable about the job, someone who has a vision beyond the expectations of the job,” Dudley said. “I think a company is looking for a kid that is work-ready, has an adequate resume that not only establishes leadership and academic preparation but they are looking for someone that has service and overall preparations to be competently employed, including being technologically prepared by being familiar with applications that are used across workplaces."

Dudley advises that a functional resume should briefly demonstrate an applicant's education, relevant work experience, awards, skills and service. She suggests that job seekers be concise in their descriptions and use a clean, reader-friendly format for the layout of a resume. And while not always the rule, she advises applicants to try and limit the resume's length to one page as it makes it easier for an employer to quickly and accurately evaluate their qualifications against the dozens perhaps hundred of other of resumes that may have been submitted for the same position.

She said that the cover letter is one of the keys to the application.

The letter should introduce the applicant and introduce that person's qualities and characteristics as a potential employee that can't quite fit on a resume. The cover letter is pretty much a professional profile that attempts to convince employers to "read further. Find out more about me." The cover letter should be concise as well, no more than three or four essential paragraphs- an introduction, the meat of profile in the body and a conclusion.

President Obama Reveals Strategy to Curb Drug Abuse

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By Melanie R. Holmes, Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspapers –

(NNPA) - President Obama has outlined a broad initiative to reduce drug abuse in the U.S. over five years, which focuses on treating the problem as a public health issue rather than a criminal-justice problem.

The National Drug Control Strategy, developed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, addresses drug prevention, treatment, enforcement, and international cooperation, Obama said.

“By boosting community-based prevention, expanding treatment, strengthening law enforcement, and working collaboratively with our global partners, we will reduce drug use and the great damage it causes in our communities,” Obama said in a statement. “I am confident that when we take the steps outlined in this strategy, we will make our country stronger and our people healthier and safer.”

By 2015, the plan is expected to reduce by 15 percent the rate of youth drug use and the number of chronic drug users, as well as reduce the incidence of drug-induced deaths and reduce by 10 percent the prevalence of drugged driving and drug use among young adults. Prescription drug abuse, drugged driving, and preventing drug use are the top three drug-related problems in the country.

National Drug Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske led a nationwide listening tour to receive input for the strategy and also met with police, medical professionals, drug treatment providers, elected officials, corrections officials, academics and others.

“In following President Obama’s charge to seek a broad range of input in the strategy, I gained a renewed appreciation of how deeply concerned Americans are about drug use,” Kerlikowske said in a statement. “It touches virtually all of us, whether we know a family member, a friend, or a colleague who suffers from addiction or is in recovery, a police officer working to protect the community, or a parent striving to keep a child drug free.”

Jay Rorty, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Drug Law Reform Project, gave credit to the Obama administration for moving away from “failed and unconstitutional” drug enforcement policies, but said he wants to ensure that drug importers, rather than smaller domestic dealers, are the main targets of law enforcement efforts.

“Attempting to reduce demand by continuing to focus on the search, arrest and conviction of street sellers rather than importers will further erode the Fourth Amendment, exacerbate the crippling financial effects of our nation’s addiction to mass incarceration and is no substitute for an effective public health-based strategy that promotes public safety while preserving communities’ constitutional rights,” Rorty said in a statement released by the ACLU.

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