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Cloves Campbell; Bishop Hezekiah Walker, recipient of The Torch Award for Religion; Benjamin L. Crump, recipient of The Torch Award for Newsmaker of the Year; Mary Denson, recipient of The Torch Award for Politics; Jennifer S. Carroll, recipient of The Torch Award for Business; B. Doyle Mitchell Jr., recipient of The Torch Award for Entertainment; Jeff Friday and Dr. Benjamin Chavis .

The week of March 25 – 29 leaders in Black news, from around the country, attended the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s annual Black Press Week.

The week of events started at the Washington Marriott at Metro Center in Northwest D.C. with a board meeting and luncheon. Things got a little more interesting when 20 college interns from around the country arrived to work with some of the top people in journalism. To kick off their welcome, the interns participated in a two-hour writing workshop with George Curry, editor-in-chief of NNPA.

“The big difference is the young people here this year. They bring so much energy to it and excitement,” Curry said. “I don’t think that they’ll have another event without the core involvement of the young people.”

The interns then had an opportunity to network with publishers and editors at the welcome reception dinner, where Chairman Mary Denson spoke about the power of the Black Press and the association, which includes over 200 Black newspapers across the country.

The main day of the week was March 26, with events from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. It started with the rededication of the NNPA Media Lab at Howard University. The media lab is where many Howard University students in the School of Communications have classes. NNPA has added 16 new Apple computers with wireless keyboards and mice. Chairman Denson cut the ribbon, signifying an increased relationship with the University. The association plans to add artwork from different Black newspapers on the walls of the media lab as well.

“My favorite event was the enshrinement at Howard University in our Black Press office archives,” said Dorothy Leavell, editor and publisher of the Crusader Newspaper in Chicago. “It is so important, not only that we talk about things in the future, but also be look at the past. I enjoyed the opportunity to see their lives and be inspired myself.”

Then onto the National Press Club, where U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif), along with women publishers from across the country, sat on a panel for the Fifth Annual Stateswomen for Justice Luncheon. Waters spoke about the importance of Black-owned business, and discussed how Black-owned newspapers have continued to thrive. Publishers then went to Capitol Hill to meet with officials, while the interns participated in a workshop on financial literacy.

That evening NNPA presented their Torch Awards at the Marriott. The event honors Black men and women making strides in politics, entertainment, business, and religion. It also featured two honorees with incredible stories in the news this year.

Bishop Hezekiah Walker, the Grammy award winning gospel singer, received the Torch Award for Religion; Torch Award for Politics, was awarded to Jennifer S. Carroll, the former lieutenant governor of Florida; Jeff Friday, founder and CEO of Film Life Inc. received the Torch Award for Entertainment; and Torch Award for Business, went to B. Doyle Mitchell Jr., president and CEO, Industrial Bank.

Benjamin L. Crump received the Newsmaker of the Year honor for his work in fighting against racial injustice at the hands of police. Master Willie Myrick, received the Junior Newsmaker of the Year honor. He is a nine-year old who was kidnapped in Atlanta, Ga. and then let go after signing “Every Praise” for three hours.

“I really liked the Newsmaker of the Year and the Torch Awards because we honor people of our community who have served and made news of importance during the year,” said Denson.

The interns attended workshops led by Baltimore News Anchor Marcus Washington on March 27. The festivities went back to the National Press Club as the week ended with a panel discussion on the State of the Black Press. This year’s discussion was also different because there were many more young people in attendance than usual.

“It was a diverse panel and a necessary discussion about how to enhance the Black Press and move forward,” said Dr. Benjamin Chavis Jr., president and CEO of NNPA. “The big difference was the presence of young people. We had just as many young people as senior citizens almost, and that’s important because the future of the Black Press is in their hands.”