ABOVE: Kevin Granger, Texas Southern University Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics, and Trailblazer Honoree Karen Carter Richards, Forward Times CEO and Publisher
This past Saturday, March 5th, the Texas Southern University (TSU) Department of Athletics honored the Forward Times at the beginning of their exciting basketball game versus Prairie View A&M at the TSU Health & Physical Education Arena.
The Forward Times has played an integral role in documenting the success of TSU Athletics for nearly seven decades, as well as the University as a whole.
Forward Times CEO and Publisher Karen Carter Richards accepted the honor on behalf of the storied institution. The Forward Times was founded in January 1960 by Karen’s parents, the late Julius P. Carter and Lenora “Doll” Carter.
“I would like to thank Texas Southern and the TSU Department of Athletics for this honor,” said Karen. “My parents were pioneers in the world of publishing Black newspapers and content, and I remain humbled to continue their vision of highlighting the great work of institutions like TSU, while continuing the premier legacy of impacting change and empowering our respective communities every day.”
Karen is the second-generation owner of Forward Times Publishing Company, Inc., a national award-winning multimedia company which publishes weekly, and serves as the largest Black-owned and independently published newspaper in the southern region, that has consecutively printed its newspaper without missing a week a print since the newspaper’s founding in 1960.
Karen continues to spread her parent’s legacy with the establishment of The Julius and Lenora Carter Scholarship & Youth Foundation which supports students by granting scholarships and internships to those who aspire to have a career in journalism and communications, several of which have matriculated to TSU. She has also received numerous awards from various organizations in Houston while also serving on the Board of Directors for Greater Southeast Management District and the Houston Texans YMCA. Karen also serves as the Chair of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a trade association of over 200+ African American-owned community newspapers from around the United States.
Being honored along with Karen and the Forward Times that evening, were four TSU legends and another longtime Houston area media trailblazer.
TSU honored Acting Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs & Research Dr. Lillian B. Poats; Distinguished Professor of Law and former President Dr. James M. Douglas; Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and TSU Administrator Dr. Bobby Wilson; former TSU men’s assistant, women’s basketball head coach, Professor, and Interim Chairperson Dr. Lacey Reynolds; and Sonny Messiah-Jiles, CEO & Publisher of the Defender Media Group.
“These individuals we honored have had a direct influence in shaping the narrative of TSU across all avenues for decades,” said TSU Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Kevin Granger. “It was an honor to recognize them for their service, dedication, and commitment in ensuring Texas Southern remains at the forefront.”
Dr. Poats has worked at TSU for 33 years and is a two-time graduate of TSU. She currently serves as the Acting Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs & Research and has also served as a faculty member in the Department of Educational Administration and Foundations in addition to serving as Associate Dean and Director of Certification at TSU. Dr. Poats has also held positions at Texas Medical School of Houston, Department of Defense and her alma mater, Purdue University. She’s also active in numerous community initiatives in the Houston area and a sought-after presenter in the academic sector.
Dr. Douglas has been associated with TSU for 60 years as a student, faculty member and administrator. Dr. Douglas currently serves as the Distinguished Professor of Law in the Thurgood Marshall School of Law while also serving as TSU’s President, Vice President, Provost and Thurgood Marshall School of Law Dean throughout his career. He’s a former president of the Houston Chapter of the NAACP and has also served as a professor of law at Northeastern, Syracuse, Florida A&M and Cleveland State. Dr. Douglas is a well-respected historian and an active contributor across several media outlets across the Houston area. He also serves as a board member for a variety of organizations in Houston ranging from the educational, business, social and legal sectors.
Dr. Wilson is a nationally regarded research chemist, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Shell Oil Endowed Chaired Professor of Environmental Toxicology and a former Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at TSU. Dr. Wilson has played a huge part in encouraging and mentoring African Americans to pursue a career in chemistry on the highest level as 1/3 of African American students who hold a doctoral degree were his students. He’s served as Director of the National Science Foundation and has received several lifetime achievement awards in addition to numerous community organization awards. Dr. Wilson, who was instrumental in establishing the Environmental Toxicology Program as TSU’s first Ph.D. program in 1994, has generated over $100 million dollars in research and training grants during his 45-year association with TSU.
Dr. Lacey Reynolds is currently a Professor and Interim Chairperson in the Health and Kinesiology at TSU and a former men’s basketball assistant and women’s head coach at TSU. Dr. Reynolds is best-known as one of the top basketball recruiters to grace the SWAC, as he had a direct hand in the success of the TSU men’s basketball program with five regular season titles and three NCAA Tournament Appearances. Reynolds, who was the top assistant under legendary head coach Robert Moreland, is personally responsible for securing the signatures of some of the top men’s players in TSU history. Reynolds also spent several years as head coach of the women’s basketball program in addition to serving as head coach at Grambling State and Mississippi Industrial College, where he was one of the youngest head coaches in the nation at 23. Reynolds, who always had dual roles in the classroom and athletics while coaching at TSU, transitioned to the classroom full time once he stopped coaching and continues to coach up the next generation of students on the administrative level.
Sonny Messiah-Jiles has been at the helm of the Defender Media Group (formerly the Houston Defender) for 42 years. A former TSU Athletics Employee, Messiah-Jiles has built the newspaper into one of the most well-respected publications in the nation as the publication is one of the few outlets in the city of Houston to cover TSU prominently. Messiah-Jiles’ success in the newspaper industry has propelled her to prominent positions such as the chairperson of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the first African American female board member of the Greater Houston Partnership and numerous advisory board positions across Houston. Messiah-Jiles received the Houston Association of Black Journalists Trailblazer Award and was inducted into the Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce inaugural Hall of Fame.