NNPA Chairman Blasts NFL for ‘Slave Mentality’
By Hazel Trice Edney
The chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a federation of more than 200 Black-owned newspapers, says the Washington Redskins’ team – under fire from a Richmond, Va. publisher – is in sync with the entire National Football League in its apparent oppressive treatment of Black businesses and consumers.
“It’s almost a slave mentality. They put us on the field and we entertain the master but we’re not reaping any benefits from the business side of it,” Campbell says. “It’s not just the Redskins. If you look around the country, the NFL as a whole pretty much neglects Black businesses and the Black community,” said Campbell, publisher of the Arizona Informant Newspaper.
He continued, “Here in Arizona, our Arizona Cardinals does zero with the Black community. Every now and then they might show up for a token Black event. But, I don’t see our African-American newspaper here in Phoenix or in Arizona being supported by the Arizona Cardinals. I believe if you called other newspapers that have [teams] in their markets, I don’t believe they’re doing much for them either. I believe the NFL as a whole takes the Black community for granted although we are their major product on the field.”
Campbell was responding to questions pertaining to a conflict between NNPA member Ray Boone, editor/publisher of the award-winning Richmond Free Press, and the Richmond-based Washington Redskins Training Camp, which is partially owned by Bon Secours Health System.
In a letter to NAACP Chairman Roslyn Brock and CC’d to Campbell, Boone states that the team contracted no business with Black-owned or locally owned businesses at its first Richmond training camp between July 25 and August 16. That includes the failure to advertise in the Black-owned Richmond Free Press while advertising with the White-owned conservative daily, the Richmond Times Dispatch which has a history of pro-segregation leadership. The conflict is steeped in an age-old battle constantly waged by Black newspapers, which are historic targets for advertising discrimination.
While Bon Secours placed paid advertisements for the training camp in the Times Dispatch, the Free Press was sent press releases, Boone said in an interview.
Brock, who has served as NAACP chair since 2010, is vice president for advocacy and government relations for the Bon Secours Health System, Inc., in Marriottsville, Md. Boone believes her corporate position has caused her to compromise her stance for economic justice in the Richmond case.
“Bon Secours, along with Mayor Dwight C. Jones and the Washington team, blatantly denied, contrary to the Mayor’s pledge, black businesses and other local businesses the opportunity to receive vendor contracts inside the training camp,” Boone wrote in a Sept. 27 letter to Brock. “Characteristic of Richmond government and big businesses, this Bon Secours decision disgracefully enhanced Richmond’s shameful reputation as ‘The Capital of Poverty,’ with 25 percent of Richmond’s population suffering in poverty.”
When Brock had not responded to his letter for more than a month, Boone followed up with a Nov. 1 email pointing out, “This raises the unavoidable question of whether Bon Secours is restricting you from living up to your responsibility to honor the NAACP mission?”