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So. Floridas leading Black voice turns 90

caines | 9/6/2012, 5:30 a.m.

The Black press has served a vital role in our community since March of 1827, when Samuel Cornish and John Brown Russwurm collaborated to form the nations first Black newspaper the Freedmans Journal in New York City. It was a weekly newspaper and the two publishers said they had taken on the mission of pleading our own cause. Many others would follow suit, in places like Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and here in Miami. Some would struggle to survive battling racism of the white world or seeking ways to make ends meet in order to maintain their publishing schedules. At one point there were some 200 Black newspapers, nationwide. Today just under 100 remain in circulation. Among them is The Miami Times, which this week celebrates its 90th year of continuous service. As was the case when The Miami Times was founded in September 1923 by H.E. Sigismund Reeves, our primary concern has been to share local news that impacts or reflects on the lives of Miami-Dade and Broward Countys Black communities. As our publisher emeritus, Garth C. Reeves, Sr., has often said. Since our inception, it has been the role of The Miami Times to ensure that we featured stories that were often overlooked or ignored by other city publications and to make sure the truth was told. When Blacks were being treated unfairly or the victim of character assassination, we got to the bottom of the issue and made our readers aware. But if our leaders were wrong, we had to make sure the public understood that as well.

Making changes for the better

After many years of distinguished service, Reeves Sr. passed the responsibility of publisher to his son, Garth C. Reeves, Jr., followed by his daughter and current publisher, Rachel J. Reeves. And as has been the case since 1923, another Reeves and the fourth generation of the family, Garth B. Reeves, is now full time at the paper, learning the ropes, taking over advertising and bringing in a new wave of ideas including a newly-revamped website. Other changes that have occurred within the last year have been increasing our presence on Facebook, Twitter and other newer forms of social media. Finally, we hosted our very first political forum, moderated by the editor [McNeir] and a guest moderator and MSNBC correspondent, Joy Ann Reid. The forum was supported by an insert, The Political Agenda the brainchild of young Garth Reeves. Readers may recall that last year The Miami Times continued its legacy of effectively reporting on local news that matters to Blacks. As confirmation, the paper was presented with five awards at the National Newspaper Publishers Association [NNPA] convention, including the prestigious Russwurm Award given to the nations top Black newspaper. This year, the Times brought home four more awards from the convention. Some things may change but others will remain the same. I seek to put my own mark on the newspaper by becoming more visible in the community and taking a stand on the issues that are recognizably my own, said Rachel J. Reeves. But there is a commonality in my desire to provide our community with the best newspaper that we can and and that of my father and grandfather. Her son, Garth, echoed her sentiments. Well continue to uphold integrity with first-rate news coverage and provide insight to our readers about stories and issues that we feel are most important to the Black community. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com