By Mayor Eric Garcetti
America is freer and fairer because of the black press.
That truth has been undeniable ever since the first edition of Freedom’s Journal was published nearly a half-century before the abolition of slavery. “Too long have others spoken for us,” its editors wrote in the first issue in March 1827. “We wish to plead our own cause.”
That tradition has grown and flourished for more than 180 years, and the mission behind it — celebrating black excellence and achievement, holding leaders and institutions accountable, exposing inequality and discrimination and empowering people with the information they need to capture opportunities — has never been more important.
And today, Los Angeles is an epicenter of black media: there are no less than a dozen African-American owned publications in our city and surrounding communities.
These papers and their reporters help us make sense of difficult times — like the ones we are in today — by exposing hate and discrimination, and reminding us to confront injustice with justice. Recent events speak to the importance of this work: in the last week we mourned the killing of two elderly African Americans by a Kentucky white supremacist who had apparently sought to take more lives; and the horrendous attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
The power and value of the black press was on my mind when I sat down last month with writers from several black-owned newspapers — leaders carrying forward a journalistic tradition shaped by some of America’s greatest thinkers and writers, from Ida B. Wells and Frederick Douglass to W.E.B. DuBois, Mary McLeod Bethune and Langston Hughes.
Many of the questions in the briefing were tough, and our wide-ranging conversation lasted more than an hour — covering topics that included how the homelessness crisis is affecting African Americans, to my administration’s work to ensure that our city’s private and public sector workforce reflects the diverse faces of our city.
I gave an update on my A Bridge Home program, which is helping unhoused Angelenos get the housing, healing and hope they need and deserve; spoke about my Evolve Entertainment Fund, which connects young people of color with opportunities in L.A.’s signature industry; and shared a preview of PledgeLA, our partnership to spur more diversity and inclusion in this city’s booming tech sector.
At a moment when national leaders are encouraging hostility toward the news media, it has never been more important for us to show support and respect to the journalists who make it their everyday mission to keep us informed. A free and independent press is one of the core pillars of democracy, and L.A.’s black press will always be there to keep us accountable, call us out when we stumble, and ensure that no one is left behind. We’re partners in progress, and that makes for a stronger city of angels.
Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Community Report” column runs the first Thursday of every month in The Wave.