The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ) celebrated its 30th anniversary Nov. 19. The reception was held in the Public Room at the Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News Building.
PABJ was recognized for its three decades of service to the African-American community through media-related professions. The date was also declared PABJ Day by Mayor John Street and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). PABJ is an alliance of print and broadcast journalist in the Philadelphia area, as well as public relations and other media-related professions.
The evening began with PABJ’s Student Outreach Project, where the Temple University chapter, TABJ, was able to mingle with professional members of PABJ and representatives from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. The networking session allowed students, whose majors include journalism, broadcast and film, to receive advice and, more importantly, contact professionals who have been in the field for years.
The reception began with opening remarks from the current PABJ president Denise Clay. Mayor Street followed with words of congratulations and acknowledgments to the members that he has know throughout his many years in politics. The mayor also read an official proclamation decreeing Nov. 19 as PABJ Day.
The history of PABJ is a rich one. PABJ, which was formed in 1973, is the founding chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. NABJ was formed by 44 men and women in Washington, D.C. in 1975. The Association now boasts more than 70 registered chapters throughout the country, 10 student chapters, including TABJ, and more than 3,000 members.
The remainder of the evening was filled with the history of PABJ. A “Taking Us Back” roundtable was composed of founding and early PABJ members, including Acel Moore, Joe Davidson, Francine Cheeks, Elmer Smith, Sam Pressley, Sandra D. Long, Reggie Bryant and Claude Lewis.
Their stories of entering into the journalism field during the 1970s were ones of inspiration. At a time when racism was still blatant and overt, these men and women overcame many obstacles. PABJ not only felt responsible to report the truth to the black community with accuracy and sensitivity, but they wanted to create an environment within their profession where they could feel comfortable and encouraged. PABJ is the first association strictly for journalism.
“PABJ really meant community and family,” Davidson, a panelist, said. “It gave us a great deal of strength to fight those battles.”
PABJ has faced many controversial issues in the black community. One of their most infamous founding members is Mumia Abu-Jamal who is in prison on a life sentence. He was convicted in a controversial trial for shooting a police officer in 1981. Despite these tribulations, PABJ has triumphed in creating a presence of black journalists in Philadelphia and the rest of the nation.
The panel ended with words of encouragement for the college and high school students in attendance.
“We want to come back 30 years from now and [listen] to what you have accomplished and say ‘job well done’,” Bennett said.
Jasmine Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.