AFRO publisher Jake Oliver and honoree Simeon Booker. (Photo by Rob Roberts)
The United State’s oldest African-American communications association celebrated its 70th anniversary along with honoring nine individuals for their contributions in capturing news for the Black community.
“We honor nine living legends who have not only committed themselves tirelessly to the field of journalism, but to causes much larger than themselves or any of us,” Hazel Trice Edney, president of the Capital Press Club said in a message given to all of the attendees at its anniversary gala, “70 Years In The Black,” held at the National Press Club in Northwest D.C. on Dec. 4. The association’s mission is to increase and support the presence and role of African-Americans in communications.
Honorees included Simeon Booker, legendary editor of Jet Magazine; Dr. Barbara Reynolds, founding editor of USA Today; April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Network; Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of the Washington Informer Newspaper; Roy Lewis, photographer for National Newspaper Publishers Association (Black Press); Richard Prince, columnist for the Maynard Institute; Paul Brock, founding executive director for the National Association of Black Journalists; Joe Madison, radio talk show host for The Black Eagle on Sirius XM; and JC Hayward, D.C.’s first African American woman anchor.
“It’s so exciting to see so many serious journalists, communicators from every walk of life,” Edney told attendees. The gala’s purpose was for Black communicators to look back as they prepared to move forward.
Booker , 96, who has over half a century of experience working at Jet and Ebony magazines, the Black Press, the AFRO and the Washington Post is particularly known for providing news on and about the Black community through his weekly Jet column, Ticker Tape USA.
“There aren’t many left like Simeon Booker,” Jake Oliver, publisher of the Afro-American Newspapers said during his introduction of the news monarch, referring to the sacrifice, commit and great risk Booker had to endure, for over 50 years, to bring news to the Black community.
Throughout the night, Black media figures from across the communications industry shared stories, jokes and bits of wisdom from their varied experiences; whether on the job in the White House or from the stark reality that Black journalists aren’t always welcomed or appreciated.
“The Capital Press Club, of course, is so special…the atrocities against African Americans are increasing and by the same token the numbers of African American journalists are decreasing and therefore the Capital Press Club is needed more than ever in order to tell our story,” Hayward told attendees.
The club also presented the Raymond H. Boone Scholarship for Racial Justice in Journalism to Howard University student Megan Sims.