NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – She’s a trailblazer and one of the most influential women in Middle Tennessee.
Rosetta Miller-Perry has given a voice to the city’s black community for nearly 30 years.
Miller-Perry, the CEO and Owner of the Tennessee Tribune Newspaper, bought the weekly community newspaper in 1991. Today, it reaches 150,000 Tennesseeans with a unique perspective on the issues and concerns of African-Americans.
“I always wanted to be around Black people,” said Miller-Perry.
She was born Rosetta Irvin in the small majority-white town of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania.
“We used to love to get the Pittsburgh Courier,” Miller-Perry said.
The weekly black newspaper became a lifeline to a world beyond her hometown.
“I was looking at the society pages, those big furs, the T- Model Fords, I wanted to be like them.”
Those dreams were deferred in 1954 when Rosetta joined the United States Navy. It created opportunities for government service and a role in the struggle for Civil Rights.
“I was with King from Selma to Washington.”
As a federal observer for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Rosetta was stationed in Memphis during the 1968 sanitation workers strike and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
She left government service in the early 90s to start a publishing career in Nashville. When local banks refused to give her a loan, she used her own money to launch a Contempora magazine in 1990 and The Tennessee Tribune Newspaper in 1991.
“I felt if I wanted to read a black paper, then I’m gonna read something that’s uplifting.,” said Miller-Perry.
The Tennessee Tribune spotlights the accomplishments of African-Americans.
“I wanted our children to see that we had lawyers, doctors, preachers, tv anchors and so forth. So somebody can say I want to be just like Anne Holt,” said Miller-Perry.
The Tribune takes on tough issues like the city’s hiring practices.
“I also wish that the city would finally start hiring black men at the same rate they hire white men and hire them in executive positions.”
She’s called bold and fearless.
“I just tell the truth and you just like me or you don’t like me. I just think people ought to know the real facts and not hide anything.”
Miller-Perry says she’s half-fulfilled, but her body of work suggests she is the best at what she does.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association honored her with the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to the black press of America.