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Sentinel Pioneers Enshrined by NNPA
Colonel Leon and Ruth Washington were enshrined at the Howard University's Black Press archives during its annual award celebration.During the National News Publishers Association (NNPA) annual awards celebration, Colonel Leon H. Washington Jr., who founded and was the first publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper in 1933 and his wife, Ruth Washington, who followed him as the publisher in 1974, were enshrined at Howard University--the nation's pre-eminent Black university--Black publishers' archives. The Sentinel has a rich history of activism following the tradition of Samuel Cornish and John Russwurm who in 1827, started the first Black publication, aptly named, Freedom's Journal. Col. Washington continued that tradition when he founded the Sentinel based on the premise that Blacks should not shop where they can't work.
It was fitting that Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., who has a long history as a civil rights leader and social activist became the publisher of the Sentinel, with an extensive history of social activism on behalf of people of color in general and Black people in particular, attended the enshrinement ceremonies on behalf of the Sentinel and challenged the Black Press to live up to the commitment as the voice of and for Black people. He said, "It is as important today, as when the Colonel (Washington) started, that Black people should not buy where they can't work. That credo is alive today in many instances."
The Sentinel is Col. Washington's most important monument, the largest Black newspaper on the West Coast and Bakewell has carried on the tradition of the Black Press, at the helm of the Sentinel as "The Voice of Our Community Speaking for Itself." In addition to the Washingtons and Bakewell, the Sentinel has also been guided by publishers, Ken and Jennifer Thomas.
The NNPA has been at forefront as an advocate for the Black press in areas where the strength of its membership has served as the cornerstone since 1940. It continues to be the bastion of the Black media 182 years after Cornish and Russwurm broke the mold and made it possible for other media giants including Frederick Douglass (The North Star); John H. Johnson (Ebony & Jet); Dr. Carlton Goodlett (Sun Reporter); the Honorable Elijah Muhammad (Muhammad Speaks); Robert S. Abbott and John H. Sengstacke (Chicago Defender); and William Trotter (Boston Guardian).
Under Bakewell's leadership, the Sentinel has increased its subscription, despite the current economy and that is due, to a large degree, to the support of the community and the advertisers. As Ruth Washington once said, "No papers can exist without advertisers and readers."