BY THE HONORABLE MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN | LAST UPDATED: MAY 29, 2009 – 11:15:49 AM
[Editor’s note: The following article contains excerpts from a keynote address delivered by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan at the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) annual convention held June 24, 1993 at the Sheridan Grande Hotel in Los Angeles, Calif.]
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.
To our great and esteemed brother, mentor, friend, and bearer of light to a people that walk in darkness: Brother Dr. Carlton Goodlett; to the president of this great organization, Brother Robert W. Bogle; to the Mistress of Ceremonies for this program, Sister Sonceria “Sonny” Jiles; and to the distinguished dais of guests and each and every one of you, it is a great honor and privilege for me to be here this morning to speak to this august and powerful body of Black men and women. I have long wanted to meet the National Newspaper Publishers Association, because, in truth, we do need to promote new partnerships; and we need to strengthen and vitalize old partnerships.
The partnership between the Black Church and the Black Press is absolutely and vitally necessary to carry us into the 21st Century with greater strength. But, the Black Church is in need of revival; and, the Black Press, also, is in need of revival. The revival of the Black Church is germane to the liberation struggle of our people, and the revival and strengthening of the Black Press is as important to the struggle of our people for liberation as air, sunshine and water is to life itself.
Knowing our value is one thing, but being able to maximize our value is another thing. There is not a member of the Black Press who is present who does not know your value; and there is not a member of the Black Clergy present who does not know the value of the Black Church. But oft times we lose sight in the value of the partnership. Individually, we are fine; but collectively, our strength is needed to ensure the survival of a people who are at risk.
The Black Press has been the only one able, or willing, to tell our story. And if it were not for the Black Press, the story of what goes on in our day-to-day struggle for life in the Black community would not be told. If it were not for the Black Church, there would be no spirit in the community to struggle against the powerful forces that subject us to self destruction.
But right now, our community has turned in on itself. There has never been a time in the history of Blacks in this country where we have been as destructive to self as we are today. There never has been a generation of Black people as violent as today’s youth. This did not happen in a vacuum. It happened because we, in ignorance, and in pursuit of self interest, allowed ourselves to take our eyes off of a prize that is bigger than the Black Church; bigger than the Black Press; and bigger than our personal needs or wants. The prize is the liberation and the preparation of a future for our children.
The mentality of a slave is that a slave always seeks the approval of his master. The slave wants to be included with the master. The slave wants to be accepted by the master. And no conduct is too demeaning for the slave to engage in to win the favor of the master. This kind of behavior on the part of those of us who publish, and those of us who write, and those of us who preach have sentenced our people to the degraded condition in which we find ourselves today.
The slave, in desiring to be close to the master, saw an “integration salvation.” But if integration is salvation, why do we need a Black Press? If integration is salvation, why do we need a Black Church? If integration is salvation, why do we need a Black Lodge? It is because in the reality of racist White America, we have found that they don’t speak to our needs better than we can speak to our own.
There is no crime in strengthening a Black institution. That is not what one could call “reverse racism.” It is not considered “ethnic racism” for the Jewish Press to be strong; or, for there to be an Italian Press, Croatian Press, or Chinese Press. People have to speak to their unique needs without fear, or without cowardice. We have to realize that the Black Press has to be, and must become, the strongest institution for liberation in the Black Community, along with the Black Church.
But that can never happen if we, the publishers, forget the aim and aspiration of those who first published a Black newspaper.
They didn’t publish a Black newspaper for money’s sake. No, no, no. The object for the formation of the Black Press was not “Money: The Bottom Line.” Liberation and Truth and Information to our Community were, and must be, the prime focus! If we do our job right, the money will come, and the support will be there. You will never go to the bank and find a check that bounces as long as the hearts of your people are with you!
While our news publications may appreciate the fact that there are beer companies and music companies that will promote something in Black publications, we have to be wise enough to know that until we are strong enough in every respect to promote the best interest of self, then we will be yielding to pressure from advertisers who may not like your editorial policy, or content.
As long as advertisers can dictate the way you look and perceive truth, and direct the way your paper answers the critical needs of your community—if you bow to that, then they will be your major contributor, and the Black people will walk away from your newspaper. And if Black people walk away from your newspaper, then you have failed the aim of those who began this journey, and you have failed our community.
The Black Church must be your strongest partner, more so than any advertiser, because the Black preacher has the ear of the Black people more than Black politicians. And if the preacher and the press form a holy alliance—not an unholy one—then we can encourage, stimulate, motivate and inspire Black people to read the Black Press. That should be a part of every sermon that we preach, because if the Black Press is free, then we are free.
The only thing we want from the Black Press is to “tell the truth.” But if the Black Press is weak; and we have reporters whom we can’t send to investigate a story because we don’t have the finance to send them, then we are slaves to the news service that is controlled by those who want to control and manipulate information, rather than make sure that our people get the right information.
If I have to pick up the Black Press and read what is already on the major news service, then the Black Press has failed because we, as publishers, failed. The stronger we make our papers to search for the truth, and print it, our people will be free overnight.
Since the Jesse Jackson Presidential Campaign, I have been the most vilified spokesperson of Black people in recent history. For years, now, they have beaten me over the head; and, for years, they have threatened even the Black Press by saying: “Stay away from Farrakhan.” For years I could not even be mentioned in Ebony magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential Blacks.” I just made it a few years ago…
But, I’m not condemning the Black Press. Nor am I angry or bitter. I am just pointing out realities that we are going to have to overcome, because it is “Farrakhan” today, and it will be somebody else tomorrow. And maybe it’ll be you the day after, if you take a strong stand on a particular problem that our community faces.
I probably have the strongest support of any Black man in the Black Community, and I did not get that support by bowing down, kowtowing, or, abandoning righteous principle. I got it because I stood firm on righteous principle. I say that the Black Press and the Black Church, if we are going to be liberated by the 21st Century, we must take a stand on righteous principle.
While we are at this convention, I want you to think about real freedom to say what you really think! Write what you really believe! Stand on what you believe! Then you’re free! But if you’ve got to think about what your advertisers will say, you must stand against ever becoming an organization of whores! You must be free men and women who can never be bought in order for us to be free!
Now, there are White companies that want to take the Black market from you, so that you will never be able to expose your people to truth, because once they produce a “Black newspaper,” it will only be the carbon copy—the reflection—of the White newspaper. This means that our people’s perspective on reality will never be what it should be. We have to fight this trend.
I thank God for this body. You are our hope. We will never move down Freedom’s Road without a partnership with you. And you will never be able to write what you think without a deep partnership with your people.