The new boards of the NNPA and NNPA Fund were sworn in at the 2023 convention in Nashville, Tenn.. (Photo courtesy of the NNPA)

By Stacy M. Brown,
NNPA Newswire

Bobby Henry, the publisher of the Westside Gazette in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., won the election as chair of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) during the organization’s 2023 convention in Nashville, Tenn.

The NNPA is the trade association of more than 200 African American-owned newspapers and media companies in the United States.

Dr. Frances Draper, publisher of The Afro-American Newspaper in Baltimore and Washington, will serve as first vice chair, while Jackie Hampton, publisher of The Mississippi Link, earned election as second Vice Chair. Fran Farrer, the publisher of The County News in Charlotte, N.C., was elected Secretary, and Cheryl Smith, publisher of The Texas Metro News and CEO of IMessenger Media, will serve as Treasurer.

Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of The Washington Informer, and Walter L. White of The Cincinnati Herald will serve as at-large board members. Henry, whose Westside Gazette has been published continuously since 1971 when his father, Levi, started the newspaper, takes over for Houston Forward Times Publisher Karen Carter Richards who served as chair for the past four years.

Richards will join Brenda Andrews of The New Journal and Guide in Norfolk, Va., Kenneth Miller of Inglewood Today in Calif., Rod Doss of the New Pittsburgh Courier, Carl Anderson of The New Tri-State Defender in Memphis, Tenn. and Sonny Messiah-Jiles of the Defender Network in Houston, as members of the NNPA Fund Board, the nonprofit division of the NNPA.

Levi Henry was in attendance at the NNPA’s Legacy Awards Gala when Bobby Henry was announced as the new chair, bringing the elder to tears. Bobby Henry demanded that the NNPA continue to work together and to ensure that the Black Press remains the trusted voice of the African American community. He waxed poetic about his new role and what he expects going forward.

“It is not always a pleasurable chore to serve and to be a servant,” Henry proclaimed in preparing to lead the Black Press of America.

“What appears to be a joyful moment of basking in bliss quickly fades away faster than a snowflake over an open campfire. Be that as it may, I am honored to be in the business of ‘pleading our own cause’ as ‘Soldiers Without Swords,’” he said, referencing the classic 1999 PBS documentary on Black Press.

Henry said the NNPA’s new executive board would “continue to be a preeminent example of the Black Press of America” regardless of “how ‘stony the road we trod.’”

This article was originally published by NNPA Newswire.