Considering the challenges facing Black Businesses and the Black Press as a result of COVID-19, the National Newspaper Publishers Association Fund Black Press Week zeroed in on the theme ‘Black Business Challenges, Responsibilities, and Opportunities Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic.’ The two-day virtual activities got underway on March 18 and will continue to Friday, March 19.
NNPA Fund Chair Pluria Marshall, Jr. CEO of the Wave Publications based in California, said: “As a business owner, I recognize the plight of Black businesses today from reducing expenses to generating payroll to managing the bottom-line. During Black Press Week, our objectives are to empower our community and our NNPA members with information that will give them insight into opportunities for funding and resources.”
Reportedly, 40% of Black-owned businesses have closed their doors permanently as a result of the pandemic. The challenge now is to sustain the remaining 60% struggling to survive during these uncertain times. Black newspapers are Black businesses, who share some of the same obstacles created by COVID-19.
Because of this shared burden, the NNPA Fund’s first workshop on Thursday featured U.S. Congressman and House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) and U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Penn.), a member of the Small Business Committee and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Economic, Growth and Capital Access. The panel moderated by Real Times Media Publisher/CEO Hiram Jackson, owner of The Michigan Chronicle, the Chicago Defender, The New Pittsburgh Courier and The Atlanta Daily World, addressed the plans Congress is developing to help Black-owned businesses cope with a range of economic issues. On Friday, the second workshop hosted by Atlanta Voice Publisher/CEO Janis Ware will concentrate on alternative funding for Black newspapers, featuring representatives from the Democracy Fund, Media Impact Funders and Knight Foundation that invest in non-profit and for-profit media organizations.
Two cornerstones of Black Press Week are the Enshrinement Ceremony and the Newsmakers Award. This year, Carter Walker Wesley (1892-1969), an American lawyer, newspaperman, and political activist from Houston, Texas, will be enshrined in the Black Press Archives housed at the Moreland Spingarn Research Center at Howard University. The NNPAF 2021 Newsmakers of the Year include two men who had a monumental impact on America’s trajectory and made a significant difference for African Americans: George Floyd and his family, and U.S. Congressman and House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.). Previous NNPAF Newsmakers of the Year include Ben Crump, attorney; and Civil rights activist Al Sharpton; Sen. Kamala Harris; Sen. Barack Obama; the Trayvon Martin family; and many more.