Just days before President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Monday night, 300 publishers and representatives of the Black media convened at the (National Newspaper Publishers Association) NNPA’s Mid Winter Training in Las Vegas. Entitled “Training, Innovation and the Reaffirmation of the Trusted Value of the Black Press,” the forum hosted its very own state of the union, more specifically on the State of Black America.
“In 2018 we are recognizing and celebrating the 191th anniversary of the Black Press in America and the 50th anniversary of the death of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.” said NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. “While we honor the past we are planning for the future. This session will include valuable information to guide us in the right direction.”
Dr. Lezli Baskerville, President and CEO, National Association of Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) discussed the “State of Higher Education for HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). Baskerville designed a $1B sustainable endowment to fund HBCUs and students attending HBCUs.
“Our HBCUs are too dependent on government money and are underfunded,” she explained. “It’s time for us to generate the wealth required to fund higher education for our students.”
Dr. Amos C. Brown, Senior Pastor of San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church gave a stirring speech on the “State of Civil Rights.” He shared how at the tender age of 14 seeing the photo of the maimed Emmett Till, murdered by a white mob. Similar in age, Brown said he was compelled to join a protest that nearly got him kicked out of school, were it not for a school advocate.
The events were the catalyst for his unrelenting commitment to the Civil Rights Movement “and my first lesson in the importance of standing up and fighting for what you believe,” said Brown. “Now more than ever we have to stand up for what is right and just.”
Brown, Chair of Religious Affairs for the NAACP and President of the San Francisco NAACP, has fought for Civil Rights for over 5 decades. He says he’s tried to live up to his first name (Amos), which means “the prophet who bears the burdens of the people.”
“We have to pay for our own freedom and not be held in captivity by Trump,” he added.
Brown also discussed local politics and described the unseating of San Francisco interim mayor, Supervisor London Breed, as “an attack on Black womanhood and a blatant bold act of racist politics.”
“Breed was thrown under the bus by the whites and Chinese,” he said. “They changed the rules mid-stream and put in her place a white male venture capitalist (Supervisor Mark Ferrell), representing the wealthy and tech industries. He also voted for taser guns and blocked affordable housing in his Marina district.”
“We’ve got to get back to, “Unbuntu,” (the South African word for human kindness) and the embodiment of, ‘Because I am, we are.”
Following Brown’s rousing speech, Revered Tony Lee, founder of the Community of Hope A.M.E. Church in Hillcrest Heights, Maryland, spoke profoundly on the “State of the Black Church” in America.