On Nov. 8, the Afro-American Newspaper, in conjunction with Morgan State University, hosted a symposium entitled “125 Years of Speaking Truth to Power.” The symposium covered the 125 years of the AFRO, it’s coverage of all things pertaining to Black people in this country and the overarching impact each presidential administration has had on the Black community.

Jake Oliver, AFRO CEO and Publisher (Photo by Anderson Ward)

Jake Oliver, AFRO CEO and Publisher (Photo by Anderson Ward)

In attendance were MSU President David Wilson, Dean of the School of Global Journalism DeWayne Wickham, MSU Board of Regents and AFRO board member Rev. Frances “Toni” Draper, who also served as moderator for the panel, AFRO CEO and Publisher, Jake Oliver as well as students and faculty.

The panelists for the symposium were Emmy award winning journalist, filmmaker and news anchor Tony Harris, writer, analyst and contributor Lauren Victoria Burke and MSU professor and political analyst  Dr. Jason Johnson.

David Wilson opened the symposium by saying, “I have to say to the Murphy family and to that great institution, thank you for giving me and others like me a perspective on the Black condition during the time in which I was searching for meaning and purpose and for validity.”

Oliver was interviewed on camera before the symposium about newspaper’s coverage of five historical periods and the impact and influence each period had on Black America. The panelists would then react to Oliver’s comments.

Oliver addressed the audience after the panel and said, “My objective in that film was to give the world of listeners and viewers a sense of what the AFRO’s ostensible role has been historically. I, early on, have been mostly attracted by the early days because that’s when the pattern was set. Back in 1905 or 1906, the environment with the respect to the Black race was intolerable compared to what it is today and today it’s not good. But the fact of the matter is I wanted to give a sense of where we were then and how we have evolved to this point.” He continued, “In every part of the decades you saw covered, there was an underlying theme that the AFRO really focused on. At every inauguration there was always an enormous amount of hope that ‘wow we have suffered for the last four years’ because it wasn’t perfect by this last President but regardless of what we’ve been through we have always had hope that it was going to get better even though we were often disappointed we never gave up that hope. Every time there was an election there was also a sense of relief.”

The symposium is one of many events to mark the celebration of 125 years at the AFRO and 150 years for Morgan. The milestone celebrations will continue Nov. 12 with a concert by Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy at the Carl Murphy Auditorium on the campus of MSU. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com.