The Afro Is American

Raynard Jackson

In last week’s column I wrote about how the NAACP has lost its mind with its resolution supporting gay marriage.  I have very little faith or confidence in most of the traditional Black institutions—NABJ, churches, fraternities, sororities, HBCUs, etc.

But after attending a lunch this past Wednesday, my faith and confidence is a tad bit stronger.  It was though I was taken back in time to a better time and place within the Black community; and after the luncheon, I really feel like we can get back to the “golden years” of Black engagement in our society.

The Afro-American Newspapers ( celebrated its 120th anniversary with a luncheon.  A couple of months ago, their General Manager Edgar Brookins, called to ask me if I could talk with some people about buying a few tables to support the event.  I immediately told him that I would personally buy a table.  Brookins and the Afro have been supporters of many of my endeavors here in the DC market.  Brookins is always responsive to my calls and the paper has been carrying my column for years.  So, when they need my support, I will always be there.

The Afro has a storied history and an evolving future that is just as bright as it’s past.  The paper was founded in 1892 by former slave, John H. Murphy, Sr. when he merged his church publication “The Sunday School Helper” with two similar publications in Baltimore, MD.  The newspaper is one of the oldest remaining family-owned newspapers in the U.S. (Black or white).

Currently, John Jacob “Jake” Oliver, the great grandson of the Afro-American Newspaper’s founder, is the CEO of the newspaper.  A graduate of Fisk University and Columbia University School of Law, Oliver left a promising legal career in corporate America to return to the family business.

Under Oliver’s leadership, the Afro has been able to remain relevant by being the first Black newspaper to continue to print hard copies, as well as to be fully digital—being assessable on the internet.  If you want to know what going on in the Black community within the DC metro area, the Afro is a must read.

Oliver has continued down the path of relevance by hiring a dear friend, Avis-Thomas Lester as their new executive editor.  She spent over 20 years as a writer for the Washington Post Newspaper.    She will bring a new, fresh perspective to the newspaper and position it to continue to be relevant to our community with the full understanding that we are living in a global marketplace.

Under Oliver and Lester’s leadership, the Afro will again branch out to bring news from throughout the world, especially from the continent of Africa.  As they begin to cover news from a global perspective, hopefully this will lead to increased readership on the internet and an increased subscriber base.  An annual subscription is only $ 40 U.S.

Within the Black community, we often complain about how we and our African brothers are portrayed in the media.  Well, now we have a chance to do something about it.  For as little as    $ 40 U.S. a year, the Afro will have the money to report on global issues.

If you want to see our community covered in a different manner, let’s commit to finding 1,000 people between now and September to take out a subscription to the Afro.  If after a year you don’t like the coverage, then cancel the subscription; but if they meet your liking, renew your subscription.

We have to be what we are looking for.  If we want fair, diverse coverage within our community, then we must enable those who best know how to do this to have the money necessary to fulfill this goal.  Remember, when all is said and done, there is more said than done.

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. His website is:





One Response to “The Afro Is American”

  1. Dear Raynard Jackson,

    Indeed such a publication is of great importance in balancing coverage and viewpoints. I am in support of such efforts. My question: why subscription rates are reasonable but advertising is not? On a scale of economy, we are pushing advertising dollars away from our own outlets. Thus, hampering the publication growth and the community it seeks to serve.

    I have seen this time after time where the market we seek to serve we alienate through our pricing structure and drive potential dollars to other non-responsive outlets.

    Blacks are seeking readership outlets and black own businesses are clamoring for focus outlets, and the only outlets that seem reasonable do not truly target the audience we seek.

    I surely hope that Afro examines and restructure its programs not only to attract readers, but also to attract those dollars that should and want to be spent with publications like Afro.

    Thank You,
    James Sanford, easy shave

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