The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) will hold its annual summer convention next week in Chicago, Ill. This year’s celebration will take place June 22-25, at the Drake Hotel in Chicago.

Established 69 years ago, the NNPA is made up of more than 200 Black-owned community newspapers around America and serves as a gateway for Black news and information in the country. In conjunction with the NNPA Foundation, the association works to provide its members with a number of programs to ensure the success of Black newspapers and other Black news media outlets.

Every year, the association, also known as The Black Press of America, hosts the meeting of its member newspapers at different locations and provides valuable information to convention attendees.

At the convention, speakers from across the country will be leading workshops and lectures on subjects concerning Black America. According to Danny Bakewell, chair of the NNPA Board of Directors, the workshops are a chance for attendees to receive detailed and useful information about issues that are important to the Black press.

“They provide information on the role that we play as the messengers to our people,” said Bakewell.

This year’s speakers include the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Michael Eric Dyson, and NAACP leaders and representatives. The Rev. Freddie Haynes, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, will be the keynote speaker at the Press in the Pulpit Breakfast on the convention’s opening day. Harvard University professor Charles Ogletree will also lead a workshop.

In addition to the workshops, participants anticipate the annual Messenger and Merit Awards presentation. A highlight of the convention, the awards gala will reveal the results of the Messenger Awards, which has five categories, and the Merit Awards, which has 19 categories ranging from general excellence to best entertainment section.
Dorothy Leavell, chair of the NNPA Foundation, looks forward to the Academy Awards-themed affair, calling it a “very grand event.”

According to Bakewell, the highly anticipated awards presentation will take place on Friday night of the convention and will feature a special performance by The Temptations.

Two of the big awards to be presented at this year’s gala are the John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish Awards. The John Russwurm Award is given to a newspaper that has placed in the General Excellence category and has also earned the most points in other categories. The Samuel Cornish Award for the Publisher of the Year is granted to a nominated publisher that meets the award criteria and receives the most member votes.

In addition to the workshops and awards gala, this year’s conference attendees can also acquire information from various advertising agencies, as well as on-site information and materials on AIDS provided by the NNPA Foundation. There will also be training for publishers on treatment and response to the AIDS illness.

According to Leavell, the NNPA Foundation feels it is important to supply the necessary information about AIDS and its impact in the community. “We want to continue to provide the best information to newspapers across the country to eliminate and prevent the spread of AIDS,” said Leavell.

Another highlight to this year’s convention is the News Cruise hosted by eight local publishers. According to Leavell, the Saturday night cruise, sponsored by GM, will take guests up the Chicago River as they enjoy hors d’oeuvres, music, and an open bar while taking in the sights of the beautiful city.

During their spare time, convention guests can also take a nice stroll to Grant Park to enjoy The Taste of Chicago, an outdoor festival celebrating Chicago’s diverse and delicious dinning. The family-friendly cultural event runs from June 24-July 3, and is just eight blocks from the convention site at the Drake Hotel.

For more information on the Annual NNPA Convention, or to register for the convention, please visit


Ashley Crawford

Special to the AFRO