Wells Fargo Bank has made a large contribution to the National Newspaper Publishers Association to fund internship programs at local minority-owned newspapers, executive director of the NNPA announced.
Students can contact their local newspapers for possible internships. “You should go to the Baltimore Afro and say you heard Wells Fargo is giving money for interns— also, the Baltimore Times,” the executive director, Dr. Benjamin Chavis Jr., told students and faculty at Morgan’s School of Global Journalism and Communication.
Publications such as, the Baltimore Afro and the Baltimore Times, are struggling to stay afloat financially. The grant would provide a workforce for the minority-owned press entities that would not otherwise be able to fund positions.
Chavis wants student journalists to connect with the NNPA’s newspapers. “I would associate myself, now, with some black-owned or minority-owned business,” Chavis advised. “I was a better student when what I learned in the classroom had direct application to my career-track.”
As executive director of the NNPA, Chavis is in charge of a network of more than 200 minority-owned press newspapers across the nation. “It’s very important as an undergraduate to have these connections related with what you’re doing,” said Chavis.
Chavis has a long history of work as a civil rights activist and a public figure. As a teenager, he started his career as a statewide youth coordinator in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, under the direction of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Later, he was falsely accused and convicted in 1972, along with nine other activists, for arson of a white-owned store in Wilmington, North Carolina during a campaign to integrate pubic facilities.
Twenty years later, Chavis spent a brief stint as president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. And, then went on to lead the Million Man March at the nation’s capital in 1995. Before this long career as an activist, Chavis did some writing. “I found out at a very early age the importance of writing. At eleven, I wrote a column for the Carolina Times,”Chavis recalled.
Chavis is not only, an advocate for civil rights, but he is an advocate for the black press, too. Chavis is acting out his passions since becoming the executive director of the NNPA this past June.
John H. Sengstacke, of the Chicago Defender, and other African-American publishers, founded the NNPA in 1940. During the Jim Crow Era, the purpose of the organization was to create a network of black newspapers marginalized by mainstream media that could band powerfully together. In today’s climate Chavis said, there is a growing concern that, like historically black colleges and universities, black press is irrelevant.
“The reason we had black press is the same reason we have HBCU’s,” Chavis voiced. “I am a strong advocate of historically black colleges and universities as I am a strong advocate of black press.”