In Remembrance of Bernal E. Smith, II

MEMPHIS – The Memphis Association of Black Journalists mourns the death of Bernal E. Smith II, publisher of The New Tri-State Defender and one of the city’s leading media voices.

{Read about funeral arrangements on the New Tri-State Defender site.}

Smith’s commitment to journalism – both as a member of MABJ and as an officer of the National Newspapers Publishers Association – was unparalleled.

At a time when both mainstream and ethnic newspapers struggle to thrive, Smith wisely positioned the city’s only black newspaper for growth by creating new revenue streams and strategic partnerships. Just one example is the Best in Black Awards. Born in 2012, the event quickly became an eagerly anticipated annual celebration of African-American businesses.

Smith also played a major role in MABJ. He was a sponsor and worked closely with the MABJ Black Male Media Project this year. The goal was to change the negative stereotypes of how African American men were portrayed in the media. Smith told MABJ at the time, “We as African American men really need to assert ourselves to define our image and our presence in media on our own terms.”

“If you look across the landscape of media and see the consistent images of black men that are portrayed, sometimes they’re not the most flattering and sometimes they’re just downright derogatory.”

MABJ president Siobhan Riley says Smith’s life stood in stark contrast to those negative images. “Smith made a huge impact in Memphis and loved MABJ. He taught our organization the importance of leadership and telling stories in a way that would bring about change in our community,” said Riley.

At its December convention, MABJ will honor Smith’s legacy with the creation of the Bernal E. Smith II scholarship. If you would like to contribute, donate HERE.

Please send checks with “Memo: BES Scholarship” to this address: MABJ, P.O. Box 42176, Memphis, TN 38104

For more information, email MABJ president Siobhan Riley at

MABJ- Back to school drive

Thanks to everyone who helped make our MABJ Back to School Drive in August a success!

Because of you, we were able to give more than 400 school supply kits and backpacks to the kids at New Horizon Apartments.

Thanks to our sponsors WMC, WRBO, Two Men in a Truck, School Seed Foundation and Kroger.


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JULY: MABJ PUBLIC FORUM: Bridge Protest, One year later

On Monday, July 10th , MABJ held a public forum.  The theme was: Bridge Protest: One year later.  On July 10, 2016, about 1,000 people marched along the I-40 bridge during a protest that shut down the bridge for four hours.  The historic protest came after the black officer involved shooting deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.  Protestors in Memphis said they wanted to put a stop to officers killing African American men and women. 

They also demanded positive changes in the city of Memphis.  Last year, protestors asked the city to investigate public works spending and requested more funding for African American businesses to help reflect the city’s demographics.  They asked to see an increase in community and youth empowerment initiatives and requested sensitivity training for officers.

MABJ held the public forum on the anniversary to discuss how media, community leaders, public officials and citizens were impacted by the protest last year.  The purpose of the public forum was to discuss what positive and negative changes have taken place since the protest and what are long-term and short-term solutions.  Many MABJ members cove


On Saturday, April 29th, MABJ held a general body meeting, expounding on the subject of mental health in the workplace. The theme was “Media and Mental Health: How the Epidemic is Impacting our Journalists.” Leon Freeman, a Clinical Supervisor with Youth Dimensions, spoke about the subject. 

We discussed the following; What’s aired during the first 5 minutes of a newscast, how covering those topics affect the journalists’ psyche, etc.

The meeting’s topic opened a much needed discussion on how a job can affect the personal life and relationships of a journalist.

Congratulations to WMC’s Jerry Askin for being named the Journalist of the Month.


Are you interested in membership, partnership, or collaboration? Complete the form below and an appropriate member of the MABJ team will contact you with next steps.