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Black Press: The Voice of Black America

Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

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COMMENTARY

By Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
NNPA

The June unemployment rate was down to 6.1 percent. Yet, for the vast majority of more than 45 million Black Americans, the persistent unemployment rate in our communities is still way too high. It was 10.7 percent in June, down from 11.5 percent in May 2014.

This is the lowest Black unemployment rate since September 2008. For Black women, the unemployment rate fell in June to a single digit at 9 percent. If these unemployment trends continue, poverty in Black America may decline.

The Black Press of America not only reports the news, but we are also responsible to share perspectives about how to further improve the economic condition of Black America. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers across the United States added 288,000 jobs last month. This figure was significantly higher than the 215,000 new jobs leading economists had predicted.

An analysis of these latest labor statistics reveals the “business sector” led as the largest growth creation over the past 30 days, with 67,000 jobs, compared to the retail and food services sector adding 40,000 and 33,000 jobs, respectively. Health care and manufacturing sectors added 21,000 and 16,000 jobs, respectively.

What does this mean for Black America?

First, we have to see ourselves beyond solely being trillion dollar annual consumers in the U.S. economy. Yes, we want more jobs. Yes, we want more economic development, equity and expanded wealth in our communities. We would like to end poverty in America. Yet, clearly the latest jobs report reveals in order to create more jobs, we have to create more businesses.

The National Newspaper Publishers Association is a national trade association of nearly 200 Black-owned newspapers. We are employers. If we expand our businesses, we will be able to hire more people. The more people we hire, the stronger the U.S. economy.

More than 45 million Black Americans and more than 45 million Latino Americans hunger for consistent and trustworthy news, relevant information, business development opportunities, career options, youth business and vocational apprenticeships.

We must articulate a strategic plan for advancing the socioeconomic, political, cultural and spiritual interests of our respective communities.

Corporate America should understand that with rapidly changing demographics, it is in its best interest to support the economic development of our businesses and communities.

The truth is every inch of socioeconomic or political progress we have made in America has only come as a consequence of a long protracted struggle for freedom, justice and equality.  “The Voice of Black America” is, therefore, the resolute voice of empowerment. The Black Press is the voice that articulates the clear interests of Black America without apology or kowtowing to the forces of oppression and division.

The Black Press has a proud and valiant history of being the standard bearer of news and information distribution that advances the causes for freedom, inclusiveness, democracy and prosperity.

Even in this growing digital age there is a vital role the Black Press of America must continue to play. Digital media should complement — not replace — print media. Social media should also complement the printed press and give extended distribution outlets to our newspapers on mobile devices around the world.

The “Voice of Black America” will not be silenced nor erased. We will continue to stand. We will continue to print and be active on our digital platforms. We will continue to distribute the news and information yearned for by millions of people every day.

The future of the Black Press of America is bright and there are many new opportunities on the horizon.

Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the interim president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. He can be reached at dr.bchavis@nnpa.org.

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