The first Black newspaper, FREEDOMS JOURNAL, was founded in 1827 to give African Americans a voice in fighting the negative treatment being received under the hands of White Americans. The little known fact is that included among the founders who met in New York at the home of a Black caterer, Boston Crummel, were Bishop Richard Allen, one of the Pioneers of the African American Methodist Church (AME) and Reverend Samuel E. Cornish, pastor of the first Negro Presbyterian Church in New York and John Russwurm, one of the first African Americans to graduate from an American College.
All of these men were fierce anti-slave fighters, abolitionists, and seekers of freedom and Independence for Black Americans. In every fight since that first newspaper, the Black Press has been at the forefront of the fight. In the February, 2012 issue of Black Enterprise magazine, publisher Earl Graves admonishes Black Americans that Black Americans need to keep on telling the story of our struggle and progress. In the May 2012 Issue, he reminds us that we must support the Black Press, even in these down economic times. Maybe even more in order that we all help to keep the Black Press alive.
Graves writes in May 2012 that, "We, as Black people, are losing our voice . . . As Black Americans, we must fight to protect and grow our share of voice in the form of robust media ownership, even in a changing media world. We must challenge the companies that depend on our consumer spending to pay that loyalty forward by spending likewise with Black-owned media...
Needless to say that just as the Black Press has been our voice, the Black Church has been our institution that has housed and provided a place of prayer, strength and faith to keep on moving on. Since both the Black Church and the Black Press were present at that meeting in 1927, both are still important today. If either is weakened, then we as a people are weakened and vulnerable to attacks and destruction.
This subject was inspired by incidents around when another Black Newspaper, THE WAVE, wrote an article in their May 8, 2012 issue about a church dispute. The dispute was between a historical Black Church in Los Angeles, Pacific Mount Olive COGIC, and their pastor that has spilled over into the civil courts. This has not been the first time Mount Olive has been in the press. They made news in 1989 when two fellows went into the church and shot three people, killing two, and wounding a third. In the current case, the pastor, in order to avoid a public fight, voluntarily resigned and left the church.
Rather than let it die, the church, with fewer than twenty members, initiated an expensive lawsuit spending thousands of church dollars in an effort to destroy the reputation of the young pastor. The lawyer for the church, Kaivan Harouni, placed on his website for all the world to read, his version of the story and bragged that the case had been won and the church had been paid damages after winning the lawsuit. As the lawyer for the pastor in this case, I declare that the case is neither well-founded nor is it over, nor have any damages been paid. The church lawyer is simply not telling the truth. In my opinion, the church lawyer has found a sugar tit and convinced the mostly elderly members who are in control at the church that it is better to spend the church's treasury making him wealthy than spend it on the needs of the people in the community. In all probability, the community could use the treasury for educational nutritional and other purposes.
The church lawyer wrote a letter to The Wave Newspaper writer Betty Pleasant, demanding she stop mentioning his office location (Beverly Hills) and his ethnicity (Persian) he said she wrongfully identified as Armenian. He implied with that statement that "race doesn't matter" and that he knows what is best for this Black Church. I note that he doesn't deny the allegation in the article that over one hundred thousand dollars has been spent on this case. Well, I would say to him, "When you are Black, as I am, you would know that race always matters, and when it has to do with the Black Church and efforts to shut up the Black Press, you have stepped into a pile of it."
As a Black Christian, a publisher, and former President of the West Coast Black Publishers Association, I would also tell him that not only does race matter, but in the opinion of our Black Press, race always matters. Further, I am the father of a son who is a minister and professor at a Black School of Theology (ITC), and I advise him that he probably needs to step away from and get out of grown Black folks business, because he doesn't know what he is talking about!