By Aria Brent,
AFRO Staff Writer

The Maryland, Delaware and DC (MDDC) Press Association announced winners of the annual editorial and advertising contest, with a total of 16 awards going to the AFRO. 

Team AFRO showed up and showed out, with several awardees attending the ceremony in person in Annapolis, Md. Some of the categories the publication found success in were education reporting, best event, best editorial cartoon, best custom publication and best use of interactive media and featured video. 

Having been around for more than 130 years, the AFRO is no stranger to winning awards, but no matter how often it happens it is always an honor to have the hardwork and talent of team AFRO recognized. 

Nicole D. Batey, a freelance writer for the AFRO took first place in the religion reporting category for her article “Call for Environmental Human Rights Grows Louder.” The judges were impressed. Batey said that the well being and livelihood of the African-American community is something she’s passionate about. She explained that she wrote this article with hopes of drawing in readers and getting them invested in the topic of environmental justice.

“These are really important issues that sometimes get overlooked because we have some many challenges that we face in the African-American community,” said Batey. “We tend to focus on things like gun violence and education. However, when it comes to the environment I think sometimes that can take the backseat. We’re not realizing that the environment around us has just as much impact on us.” 

Another member of the AFRO team who took home an award was Kofi Tyus. The veteran artist has been working as an editorial cartoonist for the AFRO for about five years. He shared that he was honored to be able to help the AFRO and get recognition. Tyus received first and second place awards for his editorial cartoons. He also took home the grand prize of “best in show” for his editorial cartoons. 

Much like Batey, the topics he discusses through his art are relevant to the African American community and dear to him. Tyus said that his work as an editorial cartoonist has been a pleasurable challenge compared to his other artwork. 

“It’s a challenge that I get a lot of pleasure out of. One of the things that fascinates me, especially about the AFRO, is that working with them shifted the focus of my comics,” said Tyus. “I used to feature comics about Donald Trump, criticizing his foolishness until I realized I was wasting my time. I needed to focus on Black people and how we can develop and organize. That’s more important than criticizing Trump. If anything we should criticize ourselves and try to inspire ourselves.”

Several of the AFRO’s events and digital programs were awarded as well such as the weekly live-streamed show Chicken Boxx, AFRO Cooking Live, and the annual AFRO’s High Tea events in Baltimore and D.C.

“Being a part of the oldest Black owned, family business in Maryland and being a part of such a historic newspaper is important to me. I really believe that our stories need to be preserved– they need to be told and nobody can do that better than us,” shared Batey when explaining what her award meant to her. 

“To have our work constantly being recognized, I know it’s not easy but, it’s so worth hearing others acknowledge who we are and the contributions we have made and continue to make,” said Batey. “I feel like the AFRO is one of those institutions that people need to do whatever they can to protect. We need to keep Black press going so that our voices don’t get lost.”

If there was every any question, the AFRO team’s success at this year’s MDDC awards prove that the publication is still relevant, still needed and absolutely “still here.”