Honor is latest achievement for Dorothy R. Leavell
Dorothy R. Leavell is a hands-on publisher and she most certainly is a true crusader for the cause of the Black Press.
Locally, the Chicago Crusader is recognized as one of Chicago’s leading institutions and one of its oldest and most successful Black-owned businesses. The awards, recognitions and honor attributed to Dorothy R. Leavell are countless.
The latest recognition comes from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), who recently announced its 2015-2016 Hall of Fame Inductees, the highest recognition given by the organization. On Wednesday, December 16, 2015 as part of the NABJ’s 40th Anniversary Gala, Dorothy R. Leavell will be among those inducted into its Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony will take place at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C.
The Hall of Fame Induction is presented by NABJ, an organization of journalists, students and media related professionals that provides quality programs and services and advocates on behalf of Black journalists worldwide.
Founded in Washington, D.C. by 44 men and women on December 12, 1975, NABJ is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation.
The inductees sharing this honor with Mrs. Leavell are Tony Brown, Charles Gerald Fraser, Monica Kaufman Pearson, Dori Maynard, Gil Noble, Austin Long-Scott, Jacqueline Trescott, Morrie Turner, John H. White and L. Alex Wilson.
NABJ Executive Director Darryl Matthews, Sr. said, “NABJ is honored to recognize this exemplary group of African American journalists whose work has broken-barriers and reached the highest standards in journalism.”
Mrs. Leavell is an African American woman who has both succeeded and survived in an industry that is typically male dominated and in recent times seen many publications fail or resort to online editions due to loss ad revenue.
Mrs. Leavell has maintained a readership of nearly 300,000, with neither of her papers ever missing a single issue. Her success is most certainly due to her commitment to the African American communities in Chicago and Northwest Indiana.
“We do not rewrite stories that appear in mainstream newspaper.
We are here to provide service to the community for the purpose that the Black Press was found—to give a voice to a community that did not have one.”
Each day she arrives early and often leaves late. She’s been doing that since 1968 when she became the editor and publisher of both the Chicago and Gary Crusader Newspapers – after the death of her first husband Balm L. Leavell Jr.
The reception area has a framed portrait of her 50th Anniversary photograph and a few of the many awards and recognition she has received for over 50 years of publishing.
Mrs. Leavell didn’t want her portrait hanging out front––her staff insisted that was the right place to hang it.
People who have never met her smile, as they are often impressed with the 50 years of service written on the ribbon across the portrait. It seems to invoke pride, especially in African Americans.
The newspaper maintains its roots in the community with its headquarters in the 6429 S. King Drive in Chicago.
Through the Crusader newspapers, Mrs. Leavell has been consistent in leading many crusades including for the wrongfully incarcerated.
Most recently the Chicago Crusader assisted in clearing and freeing former police officer Howard Morgan, who was shot 28 times by authorities. His 40-year sentence was commuted this year.
When planning the recently held Chicago Crusader newspaper’s 75th anniversary celebration, Mrs. Leavell insisted on pricing the tickets so that her readers could afford to attend.
She reminded her Diamond Planning Committee, “Hey, I would not be here if it weren’t for the Crusader’s loyal subscribers.”
The Gary Crusader was launched in 1961 and will celebrate its 55th Anniversary in 2016.
It’s when you meet Mrs. Leavell that you quickly realized why she continues to be recognized and honored.
Along with her experience, she has a remarkable memory that she uses to provide a unique insight into community, business and government issues affecting African American people on a local and national level.
Last year, Mrs. Leavell received a Proclamation from Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proclaiming October 21, 2014 as “Dorothy Leavell Day.”
On the national level, in 2013 she served as chairman of the National Black Chamber of Commerce and in 2014 was appointed as board member of the National Civil Rights Hall of Fame.
Mrs. Leavell is a powerhouse with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), having served as president, board member and treasurer, as well as chairman of the NNPA Foundation.
She was named “Publisher of the Year” during the organization’s Merit Awards Gala in 2011.
In 2008, during Black Press Week, Mrs. Leavell led a delegation of NNPA publishers to the White House after President Barack Obama was elected. It was the first time the NNPA as an organization visited the White House.
The NABJ Hall of Fame was created in 1990 when 10 distinguished historical journalists became its charter members.
Since then, 53 of the nation’s top journalists have been inducted. Among them: Chuck Stone, Gwen Ifill, Robert Maynard, Lynn Norment, Ed Bradley and Carole Simpson.
Mrs. Leavell looks forward to the NABJ Hall of Fame induction.