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During his speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday, President Biden took a moment to pay hommage to Black-owned media.
Biden began by mentioning that he hosted a screening of the movie Till during Black History Month. The film tells the story of the murder of Emmett Till and the pursuit of justice by his mother Mamie Till.
Till’s story, Biden said “is a story that was seared into the nation’s conscience.”
At Emmett’s funeral, Mamie insisted his casket remain open for the world to see the violence he endured. “She said ‘let the people see what I’ve seen,” Biden recalled.
“The reason the world saw what she saw was because of another hero in this story,” the president continued. “The Black press.”
“Jet Magazine, The Chicago Defender and other Black radio and newspapers were unflinching and brave in making sure America saw what she saw,” Biden said.
The president’s words, recalling on the courage of the Black press, elicited a standing ovation.
Biden credits Black journalist Ida B. Wells with articulating the ‘sacred charge’ of the press
Biden went on to quote famed journalist and co-founder of the NAACP, Ida B. Wells. Wells, who fought to document the horrors of lynching in the United States after the Civil War, was determined to ensure the world knew what was happening in the American South.
“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon the wrongs,” Biden said, quoting Wells.
“That’s the sacred charge of the free press.”
The headliner of the Correspondent’s Dinner, Roy Wood, Jr., also took time to honor an historic figure in Black media – his father.
Roy Wood, Sr. was a pioneer in journalism, covering key stories of the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War and beyond. Wood was also the host of one of the nation’s first Black News programs: Black’s Views on the News.
“The work you do as journalists is important, it’s essential and it’s dangerous,” Roy Wood, Jr. told the audience. “My father wanted to tell Black stories.”
Today, more than 200 Black-owned media companies across the US work to share and elevate Black stories.
The Black Wall Street Times is one of these organizations; founded in 2017 by Nehemiah Frank to honor Greenwood’s legacy. The BWSTimes was created as a local publication, but over the last six years has grown to have nationwide reach.