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NAMAD Honors James Farmer with Lifetime Achievement Award

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “I can remember at a NAMAD banquet there were two tables, maybe three at a conference of minority dealers,” he said. “But I watched it grow to the level that it is today with many [tables] and, to be in a position within General Motors and to assist the industry and see it grow, has been gratifying,” he said.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

After a half-century in the automobile industry, James Farmer has certainly seen it all.

And, after receiving a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD) earlier this month, Farmer took time to reflect.

“I’ve seen this industry grow – and grow for African Americans,” Farmer said.

“I can remember at a NAMAD banquet there were two tables, maybe three at a conference of minority dealers,” he said. “But I watched it grow to the level that it is today with many [tables] and, to be in a position within General Motors and to assist the industry and see it grow, has been gratifying,” he said.

Farmer has set the example for many inside and outside of the automobile industry.

He earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in marketing from Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio in 1967 and, after nearly 10 years in advertising, sales and marketing at the Airtemp division of the Chrysler Corporation, he began his career with General Motors at the former Delco Products Division in Dayton, Ohio, in 1976.

He held a number of key leadership positions at GM including: Group Director of Communications for GM’s Small Car Group in 1994; Group Director of Public Relations and Communications, GM North American Sales, Service and Marketing in 1998; General Director Marketing and Constituency Communications with GM’s Worldwide Communications Group in 1999; and Vice President of Merchandising, Advertising and Communications at GMAC until his retirement in 2004.

Even though Farmer retired as a vice president of GMAC in 2004, he remained committed to fostering positive business relationships between the Black Press and the auto industry.

“Jim Farmer has done so many great things, solved so many problems, and he’s bridged so many gaps for our industry,” said Damon Lester, the president and CEO of NAMAD, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that’s dedicated to developing strategic relationships and advocating for the advancement of business policies and practices that ensure diversity and economic parity remain a priority in all aspects of the American automotive industry.

“His value goes well beyond his tenure at General Motors,” Lester said.

“His character and integrity are legendary and no matter what the issue was, no matter how dire the situation, he could pick up that phone and call a Rev. Jesse Jackson or a Rev. Al Sharpton or someone and have a dialogue with them and get their perspective and come back to everyone else with some sort of middle ground that was fair for all parties,” Lester said.

“He has a heck of a legacy,” he said.

Farmer, who also has been honored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA, The Black Press of America) with the organization’s prestigious Torch Award, Legacy of Excellence Award and Lifetime Achievement Award, recalled his youth when he sold EBONY and Jet magazines and the Cleveland Call and Post newspapers.

He said that’s where his connection to the Black Press began.

“I grew up with it,” said Farmer, who remains an advocate of the Black Press.

“James Ellis Farmer is the epitome of more than a half century of career excellence in the automotive industry,” NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., said.

“The Black Press of America via the NNPA salutes Jim Farmer for his outstanding global leadership,” Chavis said.

Farmer was appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities under President George W. Bush where he traveled the world as a cultural ambassador.

A member of the Board of Advisors at the Harvard School of Divinity Summer Leadership Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in Washington, DC, Farmer also served on the National Board of Advisors Development Team, planning the commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University, Washington, DC.

Farmer also has presented the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in France, Vietnam and India, and most recently in China, as part of a Global Cultural exchange program with the U. S. Department of State and the Theolonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

However, Farmer’s passion has always been in the auto industry.

“My career has been gratifying,” he said.

“I do remember the unfortunate economic conditions that befell the country and the automobile industry, and we saw a drop off in automobile dealers – a dropping of Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn,” Farmer said.

“That meant that it affected a number of dealers of color who had franchises,” he said.

Now that the economy is steady, or some would say robust, Farmer said he’s hoping that more young people of color will look to own dealerships.

“There are opportunities at GM and other places and the time is right,” he said.

“Today, it’s so diverse. I remember when GM, Ford and Chrysler had more than 90 percent of the market. Today, they collectively might have 40 percent.”

“So, in the auto industry these days, people have to have diversity. Not just in color, but in thought because we have cars today that we didn’t have 50 years ago, and I also remember when there were only about six black dealers [nationwide] and now GM has 50,” Farmer said.

With that, it’s important to capitalize on the opportunities available, which was a lesson Farmer said he learned when he was a child.

“I am one of 14 kids and my mother and father were married for 61 years and they raised us with the idea that, when much is given, much is expected,” Farmer said.

“So, when you’re blessed, you have to share those blessings and that is just basic philosophy and it’s kind of a religious belief that I have always had during my years at Chrysler and GM,” he said.

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PGA Tour and Wells Fargo Embrace Golf’s Color of Change at TPC Potomac

NNPA NEWSWIRE — At the championships outside of Washington, D.C., the game’s inclusivity proved discernable in key places if not yet on the course itself, where Howard University phenom Greg Odom Jr. stood out as the only Black player to participate in a field of 156.
The post PGA Tour and Wells Fargo Embrace Golf’s Color of Change at TPC Potomac first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

If there were ever a perfect marriage between a corporate sponsor and one of golf’s alphabet soup organizations, the Wells Fargo Championships at TPC Potomac Avenal Farm provided such a bond.

Wells Fargo, the namesake for the tournament and one of the world’s most prolific financial institutions, has again become embroiled in controversy over accusations of discriminatory residential mortgage policies and lending practices against its Black customers.

Meanwhile, the PGA Tour has worked diligently to ensure that, after decades of anti-Black behavior, it’s slowly and relatively quietly becoming one of the more inclusive sports in America – if not globally.

Both entities have forged a working relationship with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade association of America’s 230-plus Black-owned newspapers and media companies.

Together, both entities are working to change negative optics for which both understand they are responsible for their reputations.

At the championships outside of Washington, D.C., the game’s inclusivity proved discernable in key places if not yet on the course itself, where Howard University phenom Greg Odom Jr. stood out as the only Black player to participate in a field of 156.

At the exclusive “Executive Club,” where corporate citizens enjoy birds-eye views of the beautiful 16th hole and 17th tee, a fantastic mix of about 525 patrons yukked it up.

They talked golf, dined on catered meals, swallowed Bud Light, Stella Artois, and Coca-Cola, and enjoyed a full bar.

Interestingly, the large and exclusive tent highlighted how the color of golf is changing.

“I don’t think the game, or at least the PGA Tour and some of its sponsors, see Black and white anymore,” Daniel, a D.C. lawyer, said as Stewart Cink botched a birdie put on 16 just as another downpour emptied the seating area just off the tent.

Daniel didn’t want his last name used because a rival law firm had provided him the expensive tickets to the Executive Club.

“I’ve loved this game forever but could never understand, even as a wealthy white guy, why there wasn’t this effort or idea that having Black people, all people, included would only make it more attractive,” Daniel remarked.

Even as Odom – who had little time to soak in leading Howard University to the PGA Works Collegiate Championships a day earlier – failed to make the cut, there were many opportunities to realize the newly found inclusivity that golf offers.

Near the Wells Fargo Welcoming Center at Avenal Farms, African American bank representatives greeted patrons.

They helped the thousands of fans in attendance find their way to and from parking lots, hospitality areas, the course itself, and shuttle buses.

Ticket takers, traffic enforcers, and executives worked while several took time to talk golf.

When Montgomery County, Maryland native Denny McCarthy strolled from the driving range, a small group of fans braving the early morning elements yelled encouragement.

That small group included Darryl McKinley, an African American who works for a bank not named Wells Fargo.

“First, I’m just glad the championships are here because I live about 30 minutes from here,” McKinley asserted. “But to see McKinley representing Maryland and Odom repping Howard University and all HBCUs is exciting on different levels.”

McKinley explained that the presence of McCarthy, who is white, and Odom, a Black man, had encouraged many like him.

“Denny is from here, so it lets you know that this area can produce champions,” McKinley explained further. “Then you have Greg, a Black man, a Howard University dude doing his thing and shining a spotlight on us in this game. What else do you need to see to be convinced that the doors are now wide open for everyone in this game.”

Though Odom missed the cut, it wasn’t just the amateur who had problems with the weather. Veteran Sergio Garcia fought both the elements and officials after hitting a tee shot that went astray from the rolling terrain at Avenal Farm.

Garcia became frustrated with an official after being assessed a penalty for taking too much time while looking for his ball that went into a hazard.

Players are allowed three minutes to locate the ball once they arrive in the general area where they hit it.

“You want me to swim through the river?” Garcia barked at the official. “I wasn’t looking for the ball there. I was looking for the ball once I got onto this side. Does that make sense?”

The moment also provided a glimpse of the change in golf for some.

“They never used to argue,” Alexis Battersby, attending the event with a group of other women, stated. “But, this is fun because the game seems more real to us,” she said.

Battersby, who said she would attend the entire weekend, joined a group of 12 Black women at the championships.

Meanwhile, back inside the Executive Club, Daniel, the lawyer, offered a course for Wells Fargo and the PGA Tour.

When told Wells Fargo provided the Black Press with unlimited access to the event, he shook his head in approval.

“That’s a start,” he asserted. “They have to do many things to improve access for their African American customers and engage Black people the right way by doing more with you guys (the Black Press).”

He said the PGA Tour’s efforts are more pronounced.

“You got Odom playing here, and I’m certain they would like to see more people of color on the course,” Daniel stated.

“But, I’m also aware that in the corporate offices and other places within the PGA Tour, there are African Americans – men and women and who knows, LGBTQ individuals, who are working important jobs.

“But, if I’m you (the Black Press), I keep pressing. I’m never satisfied, and neither should African Americans until there’s concrete proof that the efforts have been sustained and the word ‘diversity’ isn’t needed in our vocabulary anymore.”

The post PGA Tour and Wells Fargo Embrace Golf’s Color of Change at TPC Potomac first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Standing on Shoulders of Giants, April Ryan is Opening Doors for Others

NNPA NEWSWIRE — April Ryan covered Obama’s two terms as president and wrote about more history when Kamala Harris became the first Black vice president and Ketanji Brown Jackson earned confirmation as the first African American female on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The post Standing on Shoulders of Giants, April Ryan is Opening Doors for Others first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

After 25 years working as a White House correspondent, April Ryan has seen it all.

Before he became president, Barack Obama invited Ryan as a guest of his for a Congressional Black Caucus dinner.

She covered Obama’s two terms as president and wrote about more history when Kamala Harris became the first Black vice president and Ketanji Brown Jackson earned confirmation as the first African American female on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ryan also joined a host of other journalists and minority women to draw the ire of former President Donald Trump, who infamously railed at the decorated journalist in 2018, calling her a loser.

“After what I’ve seen, no,” Ryan remarked when asked whether anything surprises her anymore.

“I hope I don’t have to be surprised anymore. I’ve seen 25 years of ebb and flow, and, at the end of the day, it’s about people and reporting for people.”

Ryan noted that she once worked for a “boutique” news organization, and now she’s achieved near unparalleled success at theGrio, where she opened up the news department and the White House Bureau.

On Saturday, April 30, Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group and theGrio honored Ryan for 25 years of distinguished and passionate service as a White House correspondent during a star-studded bash, “A Seat at the Table: A Celebration of Black Media.”

The bash took place at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture and immediately follows the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) Dinner at the Washington Hilton.

Ryan, a Baltimore native, and Morgan State University graduate, serves on the board of the WHCA, only the third African American in the organization’s more than 100-year history to hold such a position.

“It’s been 25 years, so what an honor,” Ryan said.

She added that the secret to her longevity is simply keeping her head down and doing the work.

“It’s not about me. It’s about the story,” Ryan insisted.

“Along the way, people found out about me, but if you’re true to the story and telling all sides, that’s where my longevity has been.”

With fake news, misinformation, and social media wreaking havoc on traditional journalism, Ryan maintains that she’s praying for a middle ground.

“There’s always been opinion, but now the line is obscured more than ever, and there’s misinformation,” she asserted.

“People are in need of facts. They don’t need lies and entertainment. They need facts. We’re in perilous times where the gas prices are higher than they’ve ever been. We’re looking at stores, and they can’t keep stuff on the shelves.

“We’re dealing with a pandemic, and we’re watching one conflict on television when there are several around the world.

“The World Food Organization says it can’t meet the demand for food. We are in a crisis. It’s a pandemic, and people are wearing masks, and then they’re not wearing masks. We need facts, and I don’t have the stomach for entertainment when the stakes are so high.”

An honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta, Ryan has earned numerous journalism awards, including the 2019 Freedom of the Press Award from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Last year, Ryan earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for Social Justice Impact.

Backing up her often-professed love of her hometown, Ryan has served as a mentor to aspiring journalists, and she’s assisted the development of up-and-coming broadcasters.

She’s authored “The Presidency in Black and White,” “At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White,” and “Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House.”

“I watched history, and now I’m scribing the first woman of color who identifies as Black as vice president,” Ryan stated.

“Now, I see someone who identifies closely to Thurgood Marshall, this amazing Black woman who is authentic in herself with her braids, beautiful brown hue, and voice that comes out of the wisdom of our ancestors and our culture and history.”

Ryan said she’s also honored that the WHCA will honor Ethel Payne and Alice Dunagan, two Black Press alumni who blazed trails as White House reporters.

“I stand on their shoulders. So many of us stand on their shoulders,” Ryan said.

“They are brave women, and I thank them because if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be in the room.”

Ryan counts daughters Ryan and Grace as her life’s “greatest work.”

“I’m a Baltimorean. I grew up, and I’m still here,” Ryan declared.

“I can’t leave, my family is here, and I know that there’s this vibe here.”

She said Baltimore is primed for a comeback, much like the recent rise of Detroit, which had for decades been mired in problems that stemmed from local government mismanagement and other woes.

“Baltimore is a real community, and I’m an HBCU baby who grew up on the campus of Morgan State, where my mother worked until she died,” Ryan related.

“My heart is here, and I want to see Baltimore come back like Detroit. I see Morgan State’s renaissance, and it’s like a Phoenix – one of the most beautiful schools in the country, and it’s in the heart of Baltimore City. Like Maya Angelou said and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson repeated, ‘and still I rise.’”

The post Standing on Shoulders of Giants, April Ryan is Opening Doors for Others first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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President Biden Announces Clemency and Pardons for 78 People, Details New Steps for Criminal Justice Reform

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Helping those who served their time return to their families and become contributing members of their communities is one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism and decrease crime,” said President Biden.
The post President Biden Announces Clemency and Pardons for 78 People, Details New Steps for Criminal Justice Reform first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

President Joe Biden announced he’s using his clemency powers for the first time, issuing commutations for 75 drug offenders.

Biden also issued three pardons, including to the first Black Secret Service agent to work on a presidential detail, who had long professed his innocence.

“Helping those who served their time return to their families and become contributing members of their communities is one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism and decrease crime,” Biden stated.

The president added that those receiving clemency had “demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation and are striving every day to give back and contribute to their communities.”

The clemency recipients include Abraham Bolden, an 86-year-old former U.S. Secret Service agent and the first African American to serve on a presidential detail.

In 1964, authorities charged Bolden with offenses related to attempting to sell a copy of a Secret Service file.

His first trial resulted in a hung jury.

Following his conviction at a second trial, even though crucial witnesses against him admitted to lying at the prosecutor’s request, the court denied Bolden a new trial.

He has maintained his innocence, arguing that he was targeted for prosecution in retaliation for exposing unprofessional and racist behavior within the U.S. Secret Service.

Bolden has received numerous honors and awards for his ongoing work to speak out against the racism he faced in the Secret Service in the 1960s and his courage in challenging injustice.

Betty Jo Bogans also counted among those cleared by Biden.

A jury convicted the 51-year-old in 1998 for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine in the Southern District of Texas.

Authorities said she attempted to transport drugs for her boyfriend and his accomplice, neither of whom were detained or arrested.

At the time of her conviction, the White House said Bogans was a single mother with no prior record who accepted responsibility for her limited role in the offense.

“Because of the harsh penalties in place at the time she was convicted, Ms. Bogan received a seven-year sentence,” the White House said in a statement.

In the nearly two decades since her release from custody, Bogans has held consistent employment, even while undergoing treatment for cancer, and has focused on raising her son.

Administration officials signaled that the president would no longer wait on Congress for needed criminal justice reform.

Biden announced a $145 million plan to provide job skills training to federal inmates to help them gain work when they are released.

He added the implementation of new steps to support those re-entering society after incarceration.

Those steps include a new collaboration between the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Labor to provide job training; new grants for workforce development programs; greater opportunities to serve in the federal government; expanded access to capital for people with convictions trying to start a small business; improved reentry services for veterans; and more support for health care, housing, and educational opportunities.

“As I laid out in my comprehensive strategy to reduce gun crime, helping those who served their time return to their families and become contributing members of their communities is one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism and decrease crime,” Biden remarked.

“While (this) announcement marks important progress, my Administration will continue to review clemency petitions and deliver reforms that advance equity and justice, provide second chances, and enhance the wellbeing and safety of all Americans.”

The post President Biden Announces Clemency and Pardons for 78 People, Details New Steps for Criminal Justice Reform first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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