Dedication of the Black Press

The Dallas Examiner | 3/31/2014, 12:10 p.m.

The Dallas Examiner

Since 1827, the African American community has depended on Black newspapers to tell their stories and provide information relevant to their community. And despite the decline in support due to advances in technology, the printed press stands determined to continue to empower the community, as well as provide reliable and timely news. In observance of those efforts, the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation hosts an annual Black Press Week.

Last week, Black publishers from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., to celebrate Black Press Week. The one activity cherished the most during the celebration is the ceremony where we enshrine publishers who have been deceased five years or more. This ceremony takes place at a luncheon on Thursday at Howard University.

Howard’s library on the lower level has large photos of publishers on the wall who have already been enshrined. It is a time when we reflect on Black publishers, Black newspapers and what they have meant to our community.

This year, the two publishers enshrined were Charles Tisdale and M. Paul Redd Sr.

Redd published The Westchester County Press, but he was also an activist in his community. The landmark housing discrimination case he brought when denied a home in Rye led to the passage of state anti-discrimination legislation call The Redd Bill in 1962. He was a life-long member of the NAACP and served on numerous boards including the Urban League, the United Way and the American Red Cross. Redd wrote a political column for the newspaper, M. Paul Tells All, for more than forty years. The column informed and educated the African American community about politics and how it affected every aspect of our lives. He was determined to make things better for African Americans in Westchester and worked at it daily.

Tisdale was the former publisher of the Jackson Advocate in Jackson, Miss. Ben Jealous, former president of the NAACP and executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association gave the group brief historical information about Tisdale. Jealous interned at the Jackson Advocate and worked alongside Tisdale. He learned much from him and most of all the pulse of the Black Press. Additionally, Tisdale’s daugher, Denese, told about the many trials and tribulations her father and mother experienced publishing the Jackson Advocate. The paper was firebombed three times but they never missed a week printing the newspaper. She remembers her mother not going outside for a whole week while working to complete the paper.

The importance that Tisdale put on publishing the paper is an inspiration to other publishers, who experience different challenges today. Though our challenges today do not involve firebombs, they are still challenges of survival. Challenges today involve getting enough advertising to continue to publish the newspaper. Making sure we’re able to continue to tell the stories that only Black newspapers tell. In spite of the fact that according to the latest Nielsen study, Blacks spend $1 trillion in the economy. Black newspapers are not viewed as a vehicle to get advertising messages to our community.