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Basic Black 'GBH Bay State Banner's new owners are keeping the tradition of Black storytelling alive

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Host Callie Crossley with new co-owners of The Bay State Banner: Ronald Mitchell, editor and publisher; André Stark, associate publisher; and Glynn Lloyd, executive director, Mill Cities Community Investments

June 23, 2023

Thousands of civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King Jr. marched peacefully on Washington, D.C., nearly 60 years ago in pursuit of jobs and freedom for Black Americans. For many participants, this anniversary will not just be a commemoration, but a continuation of the legacy of the civil rights movement and activists.

This historic movement inspired Melvin L. Miller to found the Bay State Banner, a Black-owned urban community newspaper which he led for 58 years before its recent sale. Now, the Banner's new owners promise to keep the tradition of informing and celebrating communities of color alive. They joined Callie Crossley on Basic Black to discuss.

Ronald Mitchell, co-owner, editor and publisher of the Bay State Banner noted how crucial it is for Black people to be able to tell their own stories and not have the message get lost.

"It's really important for us as Black people to tell our stories and be in charge of our message. When you're not in charge of your message, it always gets co-opted. So, I think the most important thing for us is to continue to tell the true stories about our community, and ownership is the key," Mitchell said.

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Mitchell said the Banner will work on expanding coverage areas such as sports, which had previously been downsized. He also said they are in the process of upgrading the website and making it interactive.

One of the new website initiatives is a Black business directory, said Andre Stark, co-owner and associate publisher of the Banner, who added that he sees the paper as vital community resource where people can find news but also helpful features like the directory.

Reflecting on the March on Washington, Stark said, "It's an iconic moment and that it tells us as publishers of the paper of how much we have to promote ourselves to reach limits that we haven't even begun to see yet. So it really inspires us to work harder."

Many news outlets are moving toward a digital first format, which is an exciting time for expansion and growth that the Banner will follow, said Glynn Lloyd, the executive director of Mill Cities Community Investments. He said many community members have expressed gratitude for the Banner and its leadership.

"They trust us and they will continue to come up to me and say, you know, thank you for taking the paper over because we see you two in front of it. We know who you are. And we know it's a Black business that we can trust," Lloyd said.


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