Florida Courier publisher elected to national board
Los Angeles Sentinel Publisher Danny Bakewell Sr., the new chairman
of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a federation
of more than 200 Black-owned newspapers, says he aims to fortify the
power of the Black Press of America by unifying its ranks, while
uniting with other civil rights organizations and driving revenue to
Florida Courier publisher Charles W. Cherry II also joins the
organization's national leadership. He was elected as an at-large
national board member.
Bakewell is widely known as a savvy and successful businessman and
community activist. He's the founder and CEO of the Brotherhood
Crusade, a philanthropic organization that addresses issues in the
Black community and other communities of color. He also is co-founder
of the United Black Front, founded in the late 1960s to unite 50
Black power organizations seeking to address the remaining vestiges
of White supremacy.
The former adviser to the late L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley bought the now
76-yearold L.A. Sentinel in 2004. The Sentinel also was a 2007 NNPA
Russwurm Award winner given by NNPA to the best Black newspaper in America.
'Lift the stature'
Bakewell says NNPA is among the most powerful organizational forces
in the nation.
"It's important to lift the stature of NNPA at least to a place that
it is equal to other major Black organizations in this country such
as the National Urban League, the NAACP, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition,
etc.," Bakewell said last week in a post-election interview during
NNPA's annual summer conference in Minneapolis, Minn. "We must have
constant collaboration with them. They need to be a part of us and
our agenda needs to be a part of them.
"What we have is a national member organization," Bakewell continued.
"But we talk from a local perspective. We distribute 15 million
papers into the households of Black people per week. And if you take
that and multiply it [by the number of people who actually read each
paper], you could get to maybe a hundred million people," Bakewell
says. "There is no stronger or potentially stronger organization in
America than the Black Press. We are talking directly to the people."
Targeting federal dollars
Even during the current economic downturn, Black newspapers are
struggling like others, but none of NNPA's member papers have gone
out of business. Bakewell says he will lead the organization to
leverage its own power to gain advertising dollars from places where
they have been withheld.
"You take the federal government. It is the only remaining
governmental body that still has setasides," he says. "There's a 10
percent mandate setaside in every federal government agency" that
must be allocated for contracts with minority firms.
John B. Smith Sr., immediate past NNPA chairman who was elected first
vice chairman last week, has begun this effort in earnest.
Smith wrote a letter to top Obama aides in April, asking why agencies
were not spending advertising dollars with the Black Press to educate
the Black community about the economic stimulus package.
Congressional Black Caucus Chair Barbara Lee has written a letter to
Vice President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner
pushing for follow up and a meeting on Smith's questions and concerns.
'Revenue, revenue, revenue'
Cherry, a practicing attorney and longtime Florida entrepreneur, is
excited about where the NNPA is headed.
"I'm happy to be able to invest time and talent in an organization
that's so important to Black America," he said. "Our emphasis should
be on revenue, revenue, revenue. Additional revenue will allow Black
newspapers to do more local investigative reporting of the serious
issues impacting our communities. Many of those issues are being
ignored or glossed over by socalled mainstream media.
"My skill set includes strategic planning and building business
organizational infrastructures, especially corporate bylaws, policies
and procedures. I want to help retool the organization so that it can
be successful in the 21st century and beyond," Cherry explained.
The Black Press, Black civil rights organizations, the Black church
and Black businesses have long worked together for the advancement of
Black people. But in recent years, although leaders from those
entities have spoken at each other's conferences, there have been few
instances in which the organizations have actually met and
collaborated on specific issues.
NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous this week applauded
''We welcome the news of Danny's election and his vision for forging
an even stronger relationship between our organizations. I look
forward to working with him,'' Jealous said in an e-mail.
National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial, a longtime
friend of Bakewell, already has begun to reach out.
''Danny Bakewell will utilize his extensive experience and network to
increase the profile of Black newspapers nationwide,'' says Morial,
also chair of the Black Leadership Forum. ''As a longtime colleague
and friend of Danny's, I think he is an excellent choice as the new
chair…I pledged the cooperation and support of both the National
Urban League and the Black Leadership Forum to him.''
Bakewell says he also intends to help strengthen some of NNPA's
smaller papers by creatively escalating the organization's push for
advertising dollars. As a start, he committed to working with U.S.
Rep. Charlie Rangel, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, the
most powerful finance-related committee in Congress. Simultaneously,
a coordination of messages among the NNPA member papers would
influence public policy as it pertains to civil rights and the
advancement of Black people, he says.
"If we ever coordinated our messages and take that to the local
audience as an overriding public policy address, nobody can beat it.
That's our game," he says. "That's the way that we get a real bang
for our efforts. And we've also got to get a lot more visible. People
have got to see us as America's Black Press."