WASHINGTON — Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, urged a group of black women newspaper publishers March 26 to continue informing their readers in the wake of technology advances that threaten to make newspapers obsolete.
“We must keep the black press alive,” she said. “I don’t care how much technology is introduced into our society and how much [people] tell you you’re going to be obsolete, you tell them to go to hell.”
Waters was the keynote speaker at the fifth annual Stateswomen for Justice Luncheon here at the National Press Club. The event was sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association as part of its annual Black Press Week.
Among those listening to Waters’ speech were Dorothy Leavell, publisher of the Chicago Crusader; Marcia Griffin, founder and president of Homefree-USA; Barbara Arnwine, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Denise Rolark Barnes, a partner in the Washington Informer; and syndicated columnist Julianne Malveaux.
Waters also stressed the need for preserving black businesses as a means of ensuring economic prosperity in urban communities, particularly among African Americans.
“The great recession impacted the black community more due to the way they accumulate money,” she said. “When the housing market collapsed, so did our community.”
Waters gave startling statistics, sharing that while African American’s lost 52 percent of their wealth during the collapse, whites only lost 16 percent in correlation to the amount of resources available. She also highlighted that after the recession ended, whites gained more in proportion to what African Americans did.
Waters also acknowledged the role the black press plays in the African American community.
“The NNPA tells our story although others continue to ignore it. … [It] represents one of the longest standing black businesses,” she said.