By: MARK FITZGERALD
AS NATION OF Islam leader Louis Farrakhan toured the world and burnished his controversial image with such events as appearances with Libyan strongman Moammar al-Qaddafi, directors of the National Newspaper Publishers Association/Black Press of America decided to name Farrakhan as its “Newsmaker of the Year.”
Officials of NNPA, the major association for publishers of black-oriented newspapers, will officially issue the proclamation March 14 in Washington, D.C., at an event kicking off National Black Press Week.
NNPA president Dorothy R. Leavell said the association decided to honor Farrakhan for his organization of the Million Man March ? and the credit he gave black newspapers for the success of the march.
For this first-ever Newsmaker of the Year award, Farrakhan was selected by directors, but future honorees will be picked by surveying member publishers, Leavell said.
“This will be like Time magazine’s ‘Man of the Year,’ but it will not look at the whole world. It will be [for] those who did the most in Black America. [Future honorees] most likely will be an African American, one who we feel was the most outstanding,” she said.
Before the award was formally voted, Farrakhan was lauded in an article sent to member newspapers by NNPA executive director William Reed.
“Who did the most in 1995 to lead blacks to a higher plateau?” the article asked. “Through informal polling of numerous grass-roots and establishement leaders by the staff of (NNPA), there was a total consensus that such an undisputed individual is Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam. With the success of the Million Man March last October, the Honorable Louis Farrakhan has emerged as the most important leader of the masses of African-American people . . . .
“In his 40th year of public ministering, some belive the 62-year-old Jesus-quoting Muslim has eclipsed even the stature of Martin Luther King at his apex,” Reed wrote.