The Black Press: ‘Same Spirit. Same Mission. New Vision.’
7/22/2019, 10:55 p.m.
By JEFFREY L. BONEY
“You down with O.B.P.? Yeah, you know me!”
That was the chant being sung by many people as they attended the recent annual meeting of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, in support of the newly elected chair of the NNPA, Karen Carter Richards, publisher of the Houston Forward Times.
Richards was overwhelmingly elected as the new chair of the NNPA in a landslide victory, garnering 78% of the vote from her peers.
Running on a theme of “Same Spirit. Same Mission. New Vision.” Richards emphasized throughout her campaign the importance of the NNPA being fully recognized and identified as the “Original Black Press” of America. Her focus was to build on the foundational and historical standards that have helped the NNPA and its members make a significant impact in this country since its inception, while also strengthening every NNPA member publication to make even more of an impact during the challenging social and political climate in this country.
“I’m a second-generation publisher and my family has been a part of the NNPA for over 50 years,” said Richards during her acceptance speech at the NNPA Annual Convention that was held in Cincinnati, Ohio, this past week. “It’s time for a new vision and leadership that goes beyond where we used to be. We are the Black Press of America, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, so when I ask, ‘Are you down with O.B.P.?’ I am talking about letting people know that we are the Original Black Press, and we aren’t going anywhere!”
The NNPA, a trade organization that represents over 200 Black-owned media companies across the United States, is celebrating 79 years of existence this year, while the Black Press of America is celebrating 192 years since Freedom’s Journal was published as the first Black newspaper in this country in 1827.
Karen is a native Houstonian and is the CEO and publisher of Houston Forward Times, the South’s largest independently owned and published newspaper. Her parents always stressed the importance of the Black Press and the value of sustaining its consistent voice.
At the age of 7, Karen’s father, the Forward Times founder Julius Carter, put a basket on her bicycle and had her deliver the newspaper in her neighborhood.
As part of her father’s foresight, Karen was exposed to a world of politics, culture and business, which had a lasting impact on her emotional growth and professional development, allowing her to develop a strong work ethic and a sense of timeliness at an early age.
Karen was often told by her mother and eventual Forward Times publisher Lenora “Doll” Carter that her father would often say to her that if he died on a Monday, be sure to bury him on that Tuesday and get the paper out.
For Karen, those prophetic words from her father came true and impacted her family and business on two separate occasions.
In 1971, the Forward Times reported a story that subsequently led to their building being bombed. From all of the pressure, Julius Carter died of a massive heart attack four days later. In honoring her husband’s wishes, Doll did not miss the next issue and immediately took over the reins of the newspaper in 1971.