Crusader Staff Report
The Chicago Crusader won three Merit Awards for excellence in journalism at the National Newspaper Publishers Association annual convention held June 26–30 in Norfolk, VA.
It was a high-spirited affair at the Hilton Norfolk The Main, where the Crusader was among several newspapers that won multiple awards in various categories.
The Crusader’s Entertainment Contributing Editor Elaine Bowen captured 2nd place for Best Entertainment Section. Crusader Design Production Artist Karen Ysaguirre won 2nd place for Best Layout and Design/Tabloid and Broadsheet. The Crusader’s Yaounde Olu captured 3rd place for Best Editorial Cartoon Award in a category that was reinstated this year.
The Miami Times received the top prize, the John B. Russwurm Trophy, after capturing a total of 11 awards, including two first-place honors in Best Layout and Best Special Edition.
The St. Louis American, which was named the best Black newspaper for six years, earned six first-place finishes for Best Business Section; Best Entertainment Section; the Miller Coors A. Phillip Randolph Messenger Digital Excellence; Best Use of Photographs; Best Original Advertising; and Best Circulation Promotion. The Philadelphia Tribune captured eight awards, including two first-place honors for Best Church Section and Best Sports Section.
The Birmingham Times in Alabama posted a stunning victory after it won 1st place in the prestigious John H. Sengstacke General Excellence Award category.
Other winners included: the Baltimore AFRO-American, Seattle Medium, Los Angeles Sentinel, Houston Defender, the Memphis New Tri-State Defender, Richmond Free Press, New Journal and Guide, the Atlanta Voice, the Indianapolis Recorder, and Insight News.
Houston Forward Times’ publisher and NNPA 1st Vice Chair, Karen Carter Richards, won the Samuel E. Cornish Publisher of the Year award. Last April, Richards suffered a massive aneurysm that ruptured her aorta. Her staff rallied as she underwent an eight-hour “acute Type A aortic dissection” surgery.
Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. was given the 2018 Lifetime Legacy Award at the convention’s annual black-tie gala. Jackson spoke to NNPA publishers about the need to adopt legislation to address the despicable act of lynching.
“Lynching should be a federal crime,” Jackson said after the award. “Blacks are still being lynched today. Not just with a rope. Unarmed Blacks are being killed on a regular basis, and it must be addressed. More people were killed after slavery than before slavery. Prior to the ending of slavery, we were considered assets, but after slavery, we were considered a threat because we could vote. We need this legislation now.”
The NNPA Merit Awards is the oldest and most prestigious honor given to the nation’s top Black newspapers. With 22 categories, the Merit Awards are the most anticipated event of the year among the nation’s 221 Black newspapers.
This year’s theme at the convention was “Celebrating 191 Years of Black Press in America: Sustaining, Engaging & Mobilizing Black Communities.”
For five days, members of America’s Black Press attended seminars, meetings, conference sessions and social events to network, discuss and confront the challenges in the print industry and the future of the Black Press.
Civil rights attorney, Benjamin Crump, who has represented parents whose children have been killed by police across the country, attended several events to urge the Black Press to keep their stories in the news.
Norfolk’s first Black mayor, Kenneth Alexander, kicked off the convention with a proclamation that declared “Black Press of America Week.”
The Norfolk New Journal and Guide and its publisher, Brenda Andrews, hosted this year’s convention, which included a cruise on the Spirit of Norfolk and a reception and concert at the restored Crispus Attucks Theatre, the oldest Black-owned and Black-built facility in the nation. Named after the freed Black soldier who was the first to die in the Revolutionary War, the Crispus Attucks Theatre will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.
“The work you do telling stories—rich and deep stories—would not ordinarily be told if not for the Black Press,” said Alexander, a Democrat who became Norfolk’s first Black mayor and the 99th in the city’s history when he was elected in 2016.
“We thank you, because of the stories that you have been telling over the years…whether it’s [the story of] Plessy v. Ferguson; whether it’s Brown v. Board of Education; the ending of the poll tax; if it’s [story of] the election of the first African-American mayor of Norfolk—Brenda, you told that story—we certainly thank you for doing that.”
Stacy Brown, a contributing writer for the NNPA contributed to this report.