By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
The Black Press of America entered its 195th year in 2022, highly engaged in the continued fight for freedom, justice, equity, and equality.
Just one year after the Jan. 6 insurrection not only threatened America’s democracy but freedom for people of color, the United States and the hundreds of millions of news consumers demonstrated a need for the Black Press like never before.
Fake news and the growing number of overt racists who dispensed misinformation and false reports had taken over social media and mainstream headlines.
But like in 2020, when the Black Press was the first to reveal that the coronavirus was airborne, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) issued facts on which African Americans and others could be certain.
The NNPA is the trade association representing the more than 230 African American-owned newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America.
Reeling from the deaths of American icon Sidney Poitier; civil rights leader and legal scholar Lani Guinier; Helen Chavis Othow, the beloved sister of NNPA President and C.E.O. Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.; and many others, the Black Press challenged Congress.
Many urged lawmakers to eliminate the racist filibuster that suppressed needed laws like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) responded, calling for a vote to change the filibuster on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The vote failed, but America heard the clarion call from the Black Press.
When the Black Press noted President Joe Biden’s declining approval ratings among African Americans, the commander-in-chief responded on several fronts.
First, the Biden-Harris administration took a historical approach to advancing racial equity, including directing every agency across the federal government to address the lasting impacts of systemic racism on Black communities.
Maya Angelou became the first Black woman on the U.S. quarter, and Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman appointed and confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
With the help of federal authorities, the killers of Ahmaud Arbery received life in prison.
Black Press U.S.A. ran the headline, “Will Commission Conclude that Trump was Negligent in Jan. 6 Insurrection?”
In December, the Jan. 6 Commission referred criminal charges to the Department of Justice, emphatically stating that the former president should face a judge and jury for inciting the insurrection.
Having already spearheaded a lawsuit against prison officials in Mississippi over conditions there, hip-hop superstar Jay-Z and his team publicly demanded that authorities investigate racism and corruption in the Kansas City Police Department.
In February, the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) began facing bomb threats, while Howard University’s lacrosse team met racial slurs during a game in South Carolina.
As critical race theory proved all the rage, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton called on Congress for $30 million to combat implicit bias in schools.
In a year of Black achievement, Snoop Dogg purchased Death Row Records, the label that made him, Dr. Dre, and many others famous.
The three officers involved in the murder of George Floyd finally received the justice many had sought, each pleading guilty for their role in killing the Black Minneapolis man.
As Russia invaded Ukraine, the Black Press reminded the world why Black lives should matter in Ukraine.
Russia responded to America’s assistance to Ukraine by taking WNBA star Brittney Griner hostage, charging her with possessing a small amount of cannabis oil.
A Russian court found her guilty, and the basketball player received a more than 9-year sentence. However, in a December prisoner swap, Griner finally returned home in exchange for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
The P.G.A. Tour reiterated its commitment to the Black Press and continued offering scholarships and grants to HBCUs and other initiatives to people of color.
Meanwhile, an emotional Tiger Woods opened up for the first time.
During his induction into the Pro Golf Hall of Fame, Woods spoke candidly about the racism and discrimination he faced as a child.
As African American homeowners continued to face bias in real estate, Vice President Kamala Harris released a plan to stop appraisers from putting an unfair low value on the homes of Black people.
Congress also passed the Crown Act, which ends discrimination against natural Black hairstyles.
In entertainment, despite the controversial Will Smith slap of Chris Rock, Florida A&M graduate Will Packer led an all-Black production team for the 94th annual Academy Awards.
Deion Sanders, who survived life-saving surgery that resulted in the amputation of his toes, led Jackson State University’s football team to another successful season.
Sanders then signed a multi-million-dollar contract to lead Colorado State in 2023.
The Black Press made news with outstanding accomplishments within its ranks.
William Garth Sr., a philanthropist, community leader, activist, political influencer, and freedom fighter, earned posthumous enshrinement into the Black Press Archives and Gallery of Distinguished Black Publishers at Howard University’s historic Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.
The guiding force behind the Chicago Citizen Newspaper Group, Garth joined a host of others enshrined, including Lenora “Doll” Carter, Marcus Garvey, Frances Murphy, Dr. Mary Ellen Strong, Charles Tisdale, and M. Paul Redd.
Dr. Toni Draper, the publisher of the AFRO, earned NNPA Publisher of the Year honors and won selection as one of “25 over 50” by Editor & Publisher Magazine.
Texas Metro News Publisher and IMessenger Media boss, Cheryl Smith, also earned the same distinction. Additionally, Smith earned induction into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame. She was also named Distinguished Alumni by Florida A&M University School of Journalism and Graphic Communications.