October 23, 2017 mabjwp

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 mabjourno@gmail.com.

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