Dorothy Leavell is the newly elected chairwoman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). As a 50-year publisher of the Chicago Crusader, Leavell has served previous terms as president, treasurer and board member of the NNPA. At the helm of the NNPA’s 200-member network with Dr. Benjamen Chavis as president, Leavell is confident about change.
“We are energized, we are ready and my colleague Dr. Ben Chavis has an invaluable amount of resources due to his activism and experiences,” she said. “I have joined Dr. Chavis in the day-to-day endeavors of the NNPA.”
Leavell also appreciates the support of seasoned activists and allies such as Jesse Jackson and attorney Thomas Todd.
While work with the current administration and President Trump has been a challenge, Leavell says the NNPA will continue to push for parity, dialogue and change.
“We need to find a clear path to speak to the administration. We are locked out, but we are working toward dialoguing with those that are reasonable and understanding to ensure our voices are heard,” said Leavell.
NNPA recently hosted their annual retreat in Chicago and reignited coalitions in the fight to promote unity and overcome disparities in the light of racial tensions and violence.
“A young man was shot and died due to a lack of a trauma center here in the neighborhood. As a result, youth showed up to every University of Chicago meeting to protest and make their presence known, said Leavell. “Now there is a trauma center at the University of Chicago.”
But keeping print afloat in the digital age, and getting mainstream companies to advertise in the black press is yet another concern of Leavell’s.
“Major advertisers only want to use digital advertising due to costs and mainstream America doesn’t understand us. We are culturally different and have our own sets of values and making us a carbon copy of others is not the proper approach.”
Leavell says people still like to read a paper, pick it back up and read it again, clip it and post it.
“In the black press, our emphasis is print first and digital as an added value complementary to print,” she added.