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Jessyka Faison (center), the product communications coordinator specializing in SUVs for the Ford Motor Company, accepted the NNPA’s 2018 National Meritorious Leadership Award on behalf of the automaker. Dorothy Leavell (left), the chairman of the NNPA and Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA, pose for a photo with Faison. (Mark Mahoney/NNPA)

Ford Motor Company sent one of its millennials to host a session at the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) annual summer convention in Norfolk, Virginia.

Jessyka Faison, the automaker’s product communications coordinator specializing in SUVs, delivered a spirited message in a session titled, “The Black Press: Our Community Advocate and Champion.”

Faison touted the history of the NNPA, and the Black Press in general, shared her reverence for publishers past and present, and implored publishers associated with the 220-member newspaper trade group to continue its mission of telling and recording African American history.

“As a young millennial, my parents knew the value of the Black Press. For me, the Black Press represents history,” Faison said. “One hundred and ninety-one years of life-changing history.”

Jessyka Faison said that the Black Press has been in the trenches, keeping the spotlight on a host of issues that are important to the Black community. Faison delivered remarks during a luncheon session at the 2018 NNPA Annual Convention in Norfolk, Va. (Mark Mahoney/NNPA)

Faison spoke passionately about the monumental achievements of the Black Press in reshaping and diversifying the print media industry, which has successfully influenced the mainstream society.

As a staunch supporter and the oldest automotive partner, Faison said that Ford has remained a legacy partner and has shared similar values with NNPA in promoting the importance of educational STEM programs and higher education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

“The Black Press has been in the trenches, keeping the spotlight on a host of issues and they are so important to the African American community,” Faison said. “Without the Black Press there would be no Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; there would be no Rosa Parks; there would be no Booker T. Washington or Thurgood Marshall or Malcolm X.”

To that list, Faison added current NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., himself a civil rights icon; and NNPA National Chairman Dorothy R. Leavell, the publisher of the Crusader newspapers in Gary, Indiana, and in Chicago. Leavell recently announced the purchase of the Chicago Reader, an 85,000 weekly-circulation newspaper, which had been owned by the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The Black Press has been on the frontlines for social change for almost 200 years,” Faison said.

chavis and Leavell presented Ford Motor Company with the 2018 NNPA National Meritorious Leadership Award for their outstanding support of the Black Press and its contributions to the Black community.

Together, the unique collaborative partnership will continue to make a difference in the Black community, Chavis said, noting that the Ford Motor Company regularly promotes its unique partnership with the NNPA, which counted as one reason for the award.

The NNPA hosted its 2018 Annual National Convention at the Hilton Norfolk The Main in Norfolk, Virginia.

Faison said that the Black Press consistently been the incubator for news that makes history and impacts the entire country. As the largest and most influential Black-owned media resource in America, the NNPA continues to deliver relevant news, information and commentary to over 20 million people each week, Chavis said.

This year’s convention theme, “Celebrating 191 Years of Black Press in America: Sustaining, Engaging & Mobilizing Black Communities” focused on the importance of remaining on the frontlines for reporting and distributing the news and ongoing advances in the mission of progress relevant to the African-American community.

“We need you now more than ever,” Faison told the NNPA publishers. “The Black Press has been a means to tell the authentic stories of our culture and no one can tell the story like the Black Press.”

Stacy Brown is an NNPA Newswire Contributor and co-author of “Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask: An Insider’s Story of the King of Pop.” Follow Stacy on Twitter @stacybrownmedia.

This article was originally published at BlackPressUSA.com.

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