By Ashley Benkarski 

NASHVILLE, TN — The National Newspaper Publisher Association held its 2023 State of the Black Press luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. last Friday, bringing member publishers of the Black press together to commemorate 196 years of truth and trust.

NNPA National President and CEO, The Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr. was joined by the Honorable Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chair of the January 6 Commission, to assert the critical yet overlooked role the Black press has played throughout its nearly bicentennial life.

“Thank God for the Black press,” Dr. Chavis remarked. 

The NNPA board of directors voted unanimously to present Congressman Thompson with the 2023 Global Newsmaker of the Year award.

Congressman Thompson, whom Dr. Chavis referred to as a “freedom fighter of the Congressional Black Caucus,” noted the importance of the Black press’s efforts to hold the former president accountable amidst a glaring disparity in revenue sources compared to corporatized, white-owned media institutions. “It is so important that we not forget who we are. And without the Black press, it would be forgotten,” Congressman Thompson relayed.

“The Black press in 2023 remains the trusted voice of Black America,” Dr. Chavis explained.

He unveiled the NNPA World News App, developed with the help of Carol Davis, one of the only Black international developers in the world. It aggregates not only world and national news of general interest—In true NNPA fashion, it also generates news of particular importance to the Black community globally with the touch of a finger. “I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the 196th anniversary of the Black press than to launch our world news app, and it’s free,” Dr. Chavis said.

Special guests included Dr. Benjamin Talton, Director, Moorland Spingarn Research Center and the Black Press Archives Digitization Project at Howard University, which he said houses the largest repository of archives detailing the global Black experience. 

“If our ancestors were here they’d be shocked that we’re still fighting the fight … [I]n terms of legitimating our history, legitimating our humanity in 2023,” Dr. Talton remarked. “What I say about the Black press, the Black press is the truth. Not only are they custodians of democracy in America, but they fight against mythology, they fight against the lies. And I always say if you just read African American newspapers, you’ll see who African Americans really are.”

The keynote was presented by Dr. Chavis and the Reverend Mark Thompson served as the luncheon’s Master of Ceremony.

Quoting the legendary W.E.B. DuBois, Rev. Thompson said the role of the Black press is as important as activism, and that Dr. Chavis has for generations been present to speak truth to every major issue facing the Black community.

Find the NNPA YouTube channel at BlackPressUSA TV and find Howard University’s Black Press Archives Digitization Project on social media (@hu_blackpress).