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NAACP president-elect Stresses Church, Press and Community

NNPA, News Report , Hazel Trice Edney Posted: Jul 02, 2008

LOUISVILLE (NNPA) NAACP President-elect Benjamin Todd Jealous, applauded by members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association for whom he once served as executive director, says Black organizations must work hand in hand in order to increase NAACP membership and fight the ills of racism still pervasive in America.

The NAACP is a house, its a big house, its a mighty house, its a house that our people will never see again if we dont keep it strong, he told the more than 200 publishers, journalists and supporters during the NNPAs annual Merit Awards Dinner June 27. Its built with at least four pillars - the Black church, the Black Press, the Black business community and the membership who pay their dues.

Jealous, named the new NAACP CEO last month, worked for NNPA from 2000-2003. He led the construction of the organizations Black Press USA network as well as the NNPA News Services partnership through the Converged Media Lab at Howard University.

We did great things together Jealous told the audience. But he said the partnership is not nearly over. He said the 274,000 members that the NAACP now claims must be increased to at least the 500,000 once claimed by Walter White, who served as NAACP executive director for nearly a quarter of a century, 1931-1955.

We need to do it because while the evil of de jour segregation is gone, while the evil of out and out lynching is gone and while the evil of slavery and the slave trade is gone, our people are still finding their dreams squashed, their families torn apart, their young men thrown in the bars of prisons far too frequently, Jealous said to applause.

The school house to prison pipeline has to be dismantled. And the only way for that to happen is for our two great institutions, three great institutions, four great institutions the NAACP, the Black church, the Black Press, and the community to establish it as a priority.

The NAACP-Black Press connection is historic. Jealous, former managing editor of the Jackson Advocate and protg of its late publisher, the legendary Charles Tisdale, pointed out the connections

Roy Wilkins, an executive secretary of the NAACP in 1955, had also worked as editor of the Kansas City Call another NNPA member newspaper. W.E.B Dubois, an NAACP founder in 1909, wrote columns for the Chicago Defender, the Pittsburgh Courier and the New York Amsterdam News, all NNPA members. Dubois then served as editor of the NAACPs Crisis Magazine for nearly 25 years. Ms. Ida B. Wells-Barnett, also an NAACP founder, was best known for her anti-lynching crusades in the Memphis Free Speech, which she co-owned.

John B. Smith Sr., honoring Jealous with the organization's Chairmans Award, recalled words that he had written to Jealous when he first came to work for NNPA.

I said a blessing has been bestowed upon us. He was a guardian angel who had been sent to us, Smith recalled. We are open to build coalitions with you and NNPA.

Jealous responded with a charge.

We have serious work to do, he said. Of course the former managing editor of a Black newspaper, the former executive director of the NNPA will work more closely with the Black Press. But weve got to work as if the success of our publications depends on it, the success of our small businesses depends on it, as if the success of our children depends on it.

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