(L-R): Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III, guest speaker at the 70th anniversary celebration of the Northern California based Sun Reporter was joined by NNPA Chairman Clovis Campbell, Sun Report Publisher Amelia Ashley-Ward, California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Los Angeles Sentinel/ L.A. Watts Times Publisher Danny J. Bakewell Sr.
More than 70 distinguished guests, including prominent elected officials, business and faith leaders joined with the community recently to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Northern California based Sun-Reporter during a gala dinner at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel.
State Attorney General Kamala Harris, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, Supervisors London Breed and Maiia Cohen were in attendance along with S.F. Public Defender Jeff Adachi and Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker on June 7.
The program began with a welcome from Sun-Reporter Foundation Board Members, San Francisco City Administrator Naomi Kelly, and businessman and philanthropist Dwayne Jones.
An invocation was offered by Dr. Arelious Walker of the Tabernacle Community Development Corporation.
Jones, founder of the Urban Ed Academy, introduced Evan Carlton Ward, son of Sun-Reporter publisher Amelia Ashley-Ward, who stepped in to serve as Master of Ceremonies as legendary broadcaster Belva Davis was unable to attend the event.
Young Ward, a student at Middle Tennessee State University where he will graduate next spring with a major in broadcast communications, kept the program moving with professionalism and wit. Those who have watched him grow up spoke with pride about the outstanding young man he has become.
Mayor Lee brought greetings, emphasizing the importance of the Sun-Reporter to the city and said he will do all he can at City Hall to support the newspaper.
Harris thanked Ward for early support of her campaigns for S.F. district attorney and attorney General and her many initiatives to help the state and city’s african-american community. She acknowledged Ward as a close friend and commended her for maintaining the Sun-Reporter as a valuable community asset.
Dr. Amos C. Brown, SF-NAACP President, introduced the guest speaker, Dr. Fredrick D. Haynes III. Dr. Haynes, who grew up in San Francisco and , now pastors the Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas.
When Dr. Haynes’ father, Frederick Haynes, Jr., was the pastor of the Third Baptist Church, Dr. Carlton Goodlett, Sun-Reporter founding publisher, was a member. As a youth Dr. Haynes said he sold the Sun-Reporter to his fellow church members, thus enjoying his first job.In his mesmerizing 25 minute presentation, Dr. Haynes chronicled the history of the African-American press in America and its impact on the nation. He noted its early history including that of the North Star, founded by Frederick Douglass, which fought against slavery and Ida B. Wells, who crusaded against the lynching of African Americans.
Dr. Haynes reminded those assembled of their debt of gratitude to the Sun-Reporter and to Ashley-Ward for printing the news of the African-American community that is not covered in the mainstream press. He added that rather than “throwing shade” on the African-American community as the white press does, the Sun-Reporter and black press “throw shine” on the community by spotlighting its achievements. Borrowing a phrase from the National Basketball Association, he stated that Ashley-Ward lends “an assist” to all the members of the community and is deserving of a Most Valuable Player award. Former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. said that he also owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Goodlett and the Sun-Reporter. Mayor Brown said that he when he first came to San Francisco from Texas, Dr. Goodlett was among the African-American leadership that nurtured his early political career. Brown added that today he and Ashley-Ward have a close working relationship.
The program also included a memorable rendition of Dr. Goodlett’s favorite song, “My Way”, performed by vocalist Preston Turner.
Under Dr. Goodlett’s leadership, the Sun-Reporter was also instrumental in the founding of the Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA).
In her remarks, BWOPA State President and CEO Dezie Woods-Jones recalled how the late Sun-Reporter columnist and BWOPA founder Edith Austin wrote an article inviting women who were interested in forming a political group to a meeting at the Rainbow Sign in Berkeley. Woods-Jones said that over 200 women attended the meeting and thus BWOPA was born.
Included on the program were Danny Bakewell, Sr., chairman and CEO of the Bakewell Company and Chair Emeritus of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (Black Press of America), and Cloves Campbell, Jr., NNPA Chairman. Bakewell is also the publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel and the L.A. Watts Times. Campbell publishes the Phoenix-based Arizona Informant. Both men congratulated Ashley-Ward on reaching the 70th anniversary milestone and continuing the advocacy for which the black press is known.
Supervisor Breed also joined the chorus of those thanking the Sun-Reporter for its support. She mentioned that when she ran for her position, the Sun-Reporter was the first newspaper in the city to support her. She said that Ashley-Ward’s faith in her emboldened her to seek the office of supervisor despite facing formidable opposition.
Closing the program, Ashley-Ward humbly thanked the audience for their attendance and lasting support of the Sun-Reporter. She added a special thanks to her fellow publishers, Sun-Reporter staff members, the evening’s silver sponsors, and gold sponsors Lennar Urban, Wells Fargo, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
The evening concluded with a performance by American Idol winner Ruben Studdard. Backed by a guitarist and keyboardist, Studdard performed several original hits as well as a selection of R&B classics.
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