NNPA Chairman Danny Bakewell Sr. passes mantle of leadership to Arizona’s Cloves Campbell Jr.
By Jasmyne A. Cannick
NNPA National Correspondent
Led by Chairman and Sentinel publisher Danny Bakewell Sr., over 200 Black newspaper publishers from all over the country gathered at Chicago’s legendary Drake Hotel for several days of robust conversations on the future of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, also known as the Black Press of America.
The conference kicked off with Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III, Senior Pastor of the Dallas, Texas based Friendship- West Baptist Church, who addressed the significance and historic relevance of the relationship between the pulpit and the press. In front of hundreds of attendees, Haynes eloquently retold the history of Blacks in the United States pointing out role that the Black Press has traditionally had in African American communities as the drumbeat of communication.
NNPA publishers made history when Bakewell announced a historic new partnership between Nielsen and the NNPA that will produce an annual report entitled the NNPA Nielsen State of the African American Consumers Report with its inaugural release to take place later this year at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Conference in Washington D.C.
“This report will be able to put into black and white and more importantly quantitative data the shopping habits and spending power of Blacks in America,” remarked Bakewell.
Spearheaded on the Nielsen side by vice-president of Public Affairs Cheryl Pearson- McNeil, who says that, “over the next three years the report will be issued in September at the CBC conference and it will provide America with a snapshot of the African American consumer in one report. This is a first for Nielsen and we’re very excited because we’ve never ever done anything like this before, but we understand the importance of having this information available.”
“While a lot of our readers appreciate our editorial coverage of Black America,” explains Bakewell, “many have no idea that what they’re reading is just one part of what it takes to put out a newspaper. “The partnerships and relationships that the Black Press hold with corporate America is key to making sure that we are able to share the African American experience. The Nielsen partnership is just one example of such a relationship.”
NNPA corporate partners representing Ford, GM, Nielsen and Wells Fargo attended the Chicago conference and participated in a conversation led by Mr Bakewell on the future of these partnerships.
“The Black Press is tried, tested, and true when it comes to Black America,” explained Bakewell. “African Americans trust us and our partners and that results in increased brand loyalty for our partners.”
Nationally syndicated journalist George Curry moderated a discussion with some of America’s leading advertising agencies that specialize in African American marketing including the Chicago-based Burrell’s Communications, Carol H. Williams Advertising, Flowers Communications, GlobalHue, and Uniworld Group.
Reverend Al Sharpton, civil rights leaders and founder of the National Action Network addressed the issue of unity among African American leaders as well their responsibility to work with the Black Press in order to ensure that our issues are front and center to keep Black America aware and engaged that the struggle continues on.
Later, Sharpton and Dr. Cornel West sat down for a conversation moderated by journalist George Curry in front of a SRO (standing room only) crowd and streaming live on the Internet to thousands on the state of Blacks during President Barack Obama’s administration.
Other Black leaders in attendance at this year’s conference included Dr. Charles J. Ogletree who moderated a discussion on Black leadership that included panelists Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Rev. Al Sharpton, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Rev. Marcia Dyson, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, and Dr. Cornel West.
The legendary Motown group the Temptations provided the entertainment at the NNPA Legacy of Excellence Dinner and Awards where Trumpet Awards founder Xernona Clayton and Miami Times publisher Garth C. Reeves were honored.
Additionally, NNPA hosted its annual coveted Merit Awards for publishing and editorial excellence. This year’s winners included The Miami Times for General Excellence, the New Pittsburgh Courier received the Robert S. Aboott Best Editorial Award, and the Final Call’s Akbar Muhammad took home the Emory O. Jackson Best Column Writing.
At the conclusion of the fourday conference NNPA’s body of publishers voted on a new board of directors and executive committee resulting in the passing of the leadership mantle from Chairman Danny Bakewell Sr. to Arizona Informant publisher and former state legislator the Honorable Cloves Campbell Jr.
Bakewell who has served at the helm of NNPA for the past two years declined to run for re-election in an effort to focus on growing his two newspapers, the Los Angeles Sentinel and the L.A. Watts Times as well as spend more time with his family.
Although Bakewell is no longer the organization’s president, he still plans on being actively involved in NNPA and is both delighted and excited at Mr. Campbell assuming the leadership role for NNPA.
“Cloves will be an excellent leader for NNPA,” said Bakewell. “Over the past two years I’d hoped to lay a foundation for this eventual passing of the mantle so that the next president would inherit an NNPA that was both financially secure and stronger than when I assumed the role. I think that through my work and the work of NNPA’s board and member publishers that’s been accomplished.”
NNPA’s other elected officers include the Atlanta Inquirer’s John Smith as 1st Vice-Chair, Mollie Finch Belt publisher of the Dallas Examiner as 2nd Vice-Chair, Cleretta Blackmon with the Mobile Beacon in Alabama as Secretary, and Yvonne Coleman, publisher of the Louisville Defender serving as Treasurer. Each executive committee officers will serve for two years.
“We’re going to go continue with what Danny [Bakewell] started in terms of advertising and in terms of being a voice for the African American community,” said Mollie Finch Belt, publisher of the Dallas Examiner.
Atlanta Inquirer publisher John B. Smith Sr. said that he gives kudos to Bakewell for his outstanding leadership.
“Mr. Bakewell’s leadership is unparalleled to any previous administration including my own and this is in part due to all of the wonderful things he has done for the NNPA.” He continues, “Danny Bakewell has been outstanding leader and he has taken all of us members of the Black Press to unprecedented heights. Though he has passed the baton to a younger generation his stalwart support is evident by the character that we all possess going forward in growing NNPA and by our willingness to become better chaplains for the better good as well as to remain vigilant in our efforts to promote our beloved communities.
The leadership that Cloves Campbell Jr. will exhibit will be unprecedented in the 61-year history of NNPA. We have one of the best teams that has ever been assembled since NNPA started in1940 and through Mr. Campbell’s leadership we’ll see a stronger federation of newspapers for years to come.”
Outgoing Chair of the NNPA Foundation and publisher of the Crusader Newspapers in Chicago, Illinois and Gary, Indiana Dorothy R Leavell said, “We were devastated upon first receiving the news that Mr. Bakewell wasn’t running for re-election—and there were those of us including myself who wondered whether Cloves [Campbell Jr.] was mature enough to handle the position. But my doubts vanished when I first heard him speak. Cloves showed us older publishers that he has respect for us and our history. In Cloves, I see the wisdom that he’s learned from being involved with NNPA and the vigor and energy that comes with being a young man with fresh legs. The guidance that Mr. Bakewell will provide him through this transition period will help him succeed and I am assured that we are in safe hands. I pledge my full support to him. We all just want to thank Danny Bakewell for his two years of service as he has certainly set a high bar for anyone following in his footsteps.”