Black Press Week Highlights 2017 Edition

It was an honor and a privilege to join distinguished members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) in celebration of the Black Press’ 190th Anniversary in Washington D.C. this week. Though I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Forward Times Publisher in Memoriam, Lenora “Doll” Carter, I had the unique opportunity to design a sacred piece for her Enshrinement. The Enshrinement ceremony took place at Howard University’s historic Andrew Rankin Chapel and was prefaced with African drumming. A host of speakers talked in length about her vast accomplishments, the impact she had on them personally, and the lasting impact she made on NNPA’s culture. Before the ceremony’s conclusion, Chelsea Lenora, granddaughter of Lenora Carter, took the stage to pay tribute to her Mama with a beautifully stirring rendition of ‘When You Believe.’ The plaque now hangs in Howard University Founders Library; among such legends as Fredrick Douglass, Ida B. Wells and many more impactful figures, including her husband Julius Carter who founded the Forward Times Newspaper.

Other highlights of the trip included witnessing a certain member of The Apprentice/Trump’s administration, Omarosa Manigault, storm out of the NNPA breakfast. Manigault stated that she was there to answer the tough questions but soon after Hazel Trice Edney posed a tough question to her, voices were raised and she swiftly left the building. A more enjoyable aspect of the trip, politically, was sitting in a luncheon on Capitol Hill as the vote to replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was taking place. Several members of Congress popped in to address the NNPA and NHPA, respectively and expressed their concerns about the proposed replacement. I enjoyed listening to Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, speak. I definitely felt like Shonda Rhimes had written me into an episode of Scandal. Spoiler alert: In what might be the first bipartisan effort of my lifetime, the bill was pulled on Friday after it didn’t receive enough votes in its favor. As Olivia Pope would say, “It’s handled.”

Last but not least, visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture was a sobering, humbling, and inspiring experience. It took a few hours but I managed to make my way through one floor of the museum. There are six floors so I will return someday to finish. However, that one floor impacted me in a way I never imagined possible. For the first time walking through a museum, I felt included. For so long African American’s history was glossed over or limited to blurb about slavery. It was made very clear that our history started long before the American perversion of the practice of slavery.