By Dee Ford Byas
A common theme that resonated during the night of the Arizona Informant’s anniversary gala was acknowledging the newspaper’s impact on the local Black community for the past 50 years.
More than 250 people gathered in their finest attire to attend the newspaper’s celebration on Thursday, Dec. 9, at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa. The night’s events kicked off with a reception and live Jazz performance to greet guests as they entered the palatial venue.
Attendees perused 50-years of photos and mementos that were dispersed throughout the lobby. Lots of people were even photographed by backdrops and on a winding staircase to capture the moment. Many people signed a tribute card, leaving their imprint with words of encouragement for the paper to continue being a voice for the Black community.
In addition to dignitaries in attendance, proclamations and congratulations were received from the city of Phoenix, the U.S. House of Representatives, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, notable sponsors and more.
The gala was hosted by Cody Williams and Danielle Williams who happened to have the same last names but unrelated. The atmosphere included mingling, partaking of a full-course meal, a silent auction with round-trip airline tickets offered among gift packages, a cigar bar, musical interlude, and slide show featuring local community members whose lives were documented in the paper of record through the decades.
Guests were enlightened by an awards ceremony recognizing the following designated news makers: The late Rev. Dr. Bernard Black for a posthumous award; Milton Cannon; Hon. Christine Ellis; Booker Evans; Charles Fanniel; Dr. Ricardo Guthrie; Mel Hannah; Kenny Harris; Hon. OD Harris; Tremaine Jasper; Eddie and Joy Johnson; William Doc Jones; Hon Bryan Kilgore; Hon. Leah Landrum-Taylor; Dr. Camilla Westenberg; and Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.
For as long as she can remember, the “Infoment” was on the family table, stated Landrum-Taylor, pronouncing the paper the way the older ones in her family and many in the community would say the Informant’s name. Accompanied on stage by her teen son, who almost stood as tall as her, she wanted to show how much her child has grown since she was initially interviewed and photographed for the paper.
Joking about a picture recently shown of her in the paper from when she was pregnant, Landrum-Taylor and others talked about how the paper is not only a staple in the community but told people to be prepared at any moment to see themselves in the printed pages; and dress accordingly because “you never know when your picture might show up in the paper.”
Highlights of the evening also included remarks by Cloves C. Campbell Jr., Arizona Informant co-publisher and board chair, and Vada O. Manager, the event’s honorary gala chair, who is the CEO/president of Manager Global Holdings, Inc. They were among many who gave honor to the publication’s founders, the late Cloves C. Campbell Sr. and Dr. Charles Campbell.
“They were pillars in Arizona and ably represented our state nationally through the National Newspapers Publishers Association and many other organizations,” stated Manager. “Their unique formula of journalism, advocacy and civil rights remain timeless, and their generational family heirs continue this legacy of service to our growing community.”
Thanking honorees and all attendees, who have supported the paper’s long history, Campbell Jr. described how the paper of record spans about 2,600 issues printed and covers “98% of our news you won’t find in any other news media in Arizona,” as prominently displayed atop the publication’s front banner.
“We record Black history every week,” said Campbell Jr. of the motto also noted on the front page.
Although the “landscape has changed” how people receive their news and information about Black culture/history from a Black perspective, the publisher noted that the company will keep adjusting to the times by providing the paper online and on various platforms.
“Yes, we will offer digital, and social media properties as we continue to grow, but we also will print every week,” Campbell Jr. added.
Meanwhile, the community can continue celebrating the Arizona Informant’s milestone and is invited to an Open House for a Kwanzaa celebration, hosted by the foundation, 2-5 p.m., at the office, 1301 E. Washington St., Phoenix. Light refreshments will be available.