The Black Press has gained a powerful ally in the U.S. Senate, promising unwavering support for the historic voice of the African American community. Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-CA), appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to complete the late Senator Dianne Feinstein’s term, promises to be a transformative force in the United States Congress.
During a Zoom call with publishers from the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), Sen. Butler expressed her dedication to ensuring the long-term viability of the Black Press. She also pledged to host a delegation of Black newspaper publishers on Capitol Hill to discuss advertising and other opportunities for Black-owned newspapers and media companies, whom candidates and the federal government have done very little business with. “The existence of your outlets is the lifeline to our community,” emphasized Butler during the 30-minute Zoom call. “I appreciate the work you do tirelessly.”
The NNPA is a trade association of more than 240 African American-owned newspapers and media companies in the United States.
As the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California in the Senate, Butler’s appointment marks a historic moment. Additionally, she’s the second Black woman to represent California in the Senate, following Vice President Kamala Harris. Her appointment represents a significant milestone, and her unwavering commitment to the Black Press and the communities she serves is poised to bring about positive change for years to come.
Butler’s extensive experience as a senior adviser to Harris and her advocacy for women and the working class, position her as a formidable advocate. She has identified crucial issues facing the Senate, including robust support for Ukraine and Israel, particularly in these times of conflict. She also highlighted the pressing need for a Speaker in the House to prevent government shutdowns.
“I want to make sure that we as a community are talking about the importance and impact of this pending government shutdown and the consequences of a broken Congress, led by a Republican Party that can’t govern themselves and is putting the future of our country in peril as well as our national security,” Butler told the NNPA.
The former CEO of EMILY’s List pledged to bridge the gap between the government and the Black Press. “I have spoken directly with the Biden-Harris campaign on several occasions about their commitment to communities of color and engaging directly with the most credible vehicles that speak with them,” Butler remarked.
She remained resolute when addressing concerns about prioritizing Black communities’ issues. “I recognize that not only am I the only Black woman in the U.S. Senate, but I also know I’m the most junior. But here’s my commitment: by joining together and building partnerships with Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Raphael Warnock, we can tell a very different story and have a much greater impact,” Butler asserted. “I intend to lead the same way I’ve led my entire life.”
Butler has an established history with the Black Press. Her ties to African American-owned media were demonstrated by her direct request to Los Angeles Sentinel Publisher and NNPA Chair Emeritus Danny Bakewell Sr. to convene a meeting with Black publishers.
Before ending the 30-minute meeting, Butler reiterated her pledge to work to ensure the long-term viability of the Black Press. “The existence of your outlets is the lifeline to our community,” Butler insisted. “I know that my being in this position is an important opportunity. As the only Black woman in the United States Senate, as our Senate and government are taking on issues that are critical to the future of our communities, I wanted to make sure I was in conversation with all of you as I start my tenure in my appointed role, I want to hear what the concerns of your readers are. I want to be a voice and a champion for those issues and for all of you.”