Mourns the Loss of Richard “Sonny” Driver
Driver died December 28, 2017 at Chestnut Hill Hospital at the age of 91.
"We are saddened to hear of the passing of longtime journalist Sonny Driver," said Melony Roy, PABJ president. “SCOOP USA was a staple in our community, reflecting our people, our stories and our values. He touched the lives of many and will be greatly missed.”
His free weekly publication could be found in communities across the city, from barbershops to bars, nursing homes to nail salons. Featuring the lives and legacy of African-American achievement, Driver took particular pride in being a witness to considerable history.
For nearly 60 years, his paper documented civil rights actions, sports and entertainment feats and barriers broken on all fronts, operating from its North Philadelphia offices. Before there was a Right On! or even Bossip, SCOOP was offering the details on stars and players people in Philadelphia wanted to follow.
Driver was a leading force in a decades-long campaign for Philadelphia to institute a public monument to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That effort yielded fruit in 2005, when Fairmount Park’s West River Drive was renamed “Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.”
PABJ honored Driver with its lifetime achievement award in 2014 for his years of highlighting and contributing to African-American culture in Philadelphia.
“Through the SCOOP, Sonny Driver not only built up our community, but also united neighborhoods,” Roy said. “He was a great supporter of PABJ and certainly earned every bit of the respect he received through the years, from the corner to City Hall and across generations.”
PABJ sends its deepest condolences to Driver’s family and friends. Funeral are still being arranged.
The cutbacks represent a more than 10 percent cut in the 210-member union-represented staff. While there is business necessity behind staff reductions of this kind, PABJ hopes it does not have a negative impact on efforts to build and maintain a diverse staff.
It is our hope that hiring planned to increase the digital team with new hires will keep that same goal in mind.
PABJ wants to remind you of how important impactful reporting is to readers in all of our diverse communities. With this increased focus on digital journalism, we hope that the changing newsroom will include journalists representative of those communities.
President, Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists
Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists
Announces its 2017 Honorees
PHILADELPHIA, PA (September 6, 2017) The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ) will honor ten extraordinary journalism, communications and community standouts at its annual Awards and Scholarship Gala, Saturday October 21, 2017.
The gala is from 6 to 10:30 p.m. The reception begins at 6. The award ceremony starts at 7:15 p.m. (Assignment editors may request the awards program order after October 19th)
The 2016 PABJ Award honorees:
Tyree Johnson and Barbara Johnson (posthumously), Westside Weekly newspaper owners, who started a newspaper to serve a neglected community and in the process broke into the rarefied ranks of African American publishers.
Sofiya Ballin , a reporter with the Philadelphia Media Network (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com) whose series on “Black History Untold” offered a view of our history through the voices of those who have experienced it, and in the process taught others to recognize its significance.
Sara Lomax-Reese, president and CEO of WURD Radio, who has expanded the scope and deepened the impact of Pennsylvania’s only African American-owned talk station. Reese co-founded HealthQuest: Total Wellness for Body, Mind & Spirit, the first nationally-circulated African American consumer health magazine.
Errin Haines Whack , urban affairs reporter for the Associated Press whose introspective work focuses on the intersection of race, politics and culture. Her work has explored everything from Black Lives Matter to Black Girl Magic.
Lois and Oshunbumi “Bumi” Fernandez, Lois (posthumously), founder of the Odunde festival; and “Bumi, CEO of the festival and Odunde 365, who developed an annual festival in Point Breeze, fought for it to remain in the community, and now have expanded the celebration of black culture to include a year-round education initiative.
Sandra Clark , vice president for news and civic dialogue at WHYY, whose decades-long career has been a model of using position, talent and influence to increase diversity in news coverage and expand opportunities for journalists of color.
Aundrea Cline-Thomas , a reporter for NBC 10 whose dogged and sensitive reporting has resulted in coverage of stories impacting Black people, that may not have otherwise been covered. Her stories have illuminated issues impacting the lives of African Americans and Black people of African descent.
|Haniyyah Sharpe-Brown , media relations specialist and founder of On PointCommunications, whose skilled and innovative approach has facilitated the coverage of people, issues and events affecting African Americans and black people of African descent.|
Mourns the Loss of Past President
PHILADELPHIA, PA (April 4, 2017) - The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ) mourns the death of our past President Monique Oliver.
"She was a fierce and inspiring spirit," said Sarah Glover, president, National Association of Black Journalists. "I served on the PABJ board with her and followed in her footsteps to become president after her."
Oliver, a former WPVI-TV and CNN producer, served as PABJ president in 2007 and 2008. During her tenure, the organization diligently sought out new members, especially broadcasters and the fledgling digital journalists. Oliver also championed the re-launch of PABJ's awards gala in 2005. The event honors the work of outstanding journalists while raising funds for student scholarships. The annual event remains a mainstay of PABJ to this day.
"Monique Oliver's legacy will live on in generations," said Melony Roy, president, PABJ. "Dozens of students have received scholarships through funding from the awards program to help them pursue their dreams of becoming journalists."
PABJ sends its deepest condolences to the Oliver family, as well as her friends and colleagues.
Services will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Newark (also known as Old First Church) 820 Broad Street, Newark, NJ 07102 (entrance to parking on Lafayette Street, behind the church, on the same premises as the Prudential Center.) The viewing will be Friday, April 7 from 4-8pm (Reflections welcome 6-7pm.) Funeral Service on Saturday, April 8 from 9-10am. Interment will immediately follow funeral at Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside, NJ and the repast will be held at church following the interment.
The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists
Mourns the Loss of Founder
PHILADELPHIA, PA (March 16, 2017)- The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ) mourns the passing of distinguished journalist Claude Lewis. Lewis was one of the founders of PABJ and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).
Lewis, 82, of Cherry Hill, NJ, died this morning from complications of diabetes.
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Claude Lewis,” said PABJ President Melony Roy. “For many Black journalists, he was a pillar of journalism, an icon and a mentor. He made history as the first person of color to write a column for a daily newspaper in Philadelphia. PABJ will continue his legacy of diversifying newsrooms and calling for fair coverage of the African American community.”
Born and raised in New York, Lewis graduated from City College with a degree in English. He worked as an editor and reporter for several newspapers and magazines, including Newsweek,the New York Herald Tribune and the Philadelphia Bulletin. He later taught at Villanova University and wrote a syndicated column for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Claude was just a very special person. He always made himself available especially to black staffers,” said former colleague and NABJ Founder Sandra Dawson Long Weaver. “He truly was a trailblazer and ahead of his time. He brought a passion, a love for the business, humanity, and Black journalists. He will be greatly missed.”
Known as one of the "original three," Lewis along with fellow journalists Chuck Stone and Acel Moore laid the groundwork for and were among the founders of PABJ in 1973.
“As I recall, the very first meeting was held with Acel and Chuck Stone and me,” Lewis said in 2003 on the 30thanniversary of the founding of the organization. “The meeting was brief and we considered it bold back then. An association of BLACK journalists? Wow!”
Two years later, Lewis and many of PABJ's early members formed NABJ in Washington, DC.
"Founder Claude Lewis was a gentle giant and kind soul whose passion for equality and equal opportunity can be seen in his columns and life's work. He had a personal impact on the trajectory of many NABJ members, myself included, showing us all the way," said NABJ President Sarah Glover. "Claude lives on in all of us. I thank him for instilling in me, and my peers, a deep level of tenacity and commitment to the cause.”
Lewis also had an extensive career in broadcasting, writing and producing TV specials and documentaries. In 1982, he founded the country’s first national African-American newspaper, the National Leader.
“If you think back to that period, there weren’t many people doing what we do,” said Michael Days, editor of the Philadelphia Daily News. “There was Acel Moore and Edie Huggins – and there was Claude.”
PABJ would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the Lewis family, including his wife Beverly and his children. A memorial service is planned for a later date.
The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of journalists, students and media-related professionals, and to the promotion of diversity in the media. Formed in 1973, PABJ is the founding chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).
The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ) mourns the loss of Barbara Johnson, cofounder and managing editor of the Westside Weekly newspaper.
Johnson died Feb. 18 following a long illness at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby Borough.
"We are saddened by the loss of Barbara Johnson," said Melony Roy, PABJ president. “PABJ extends our deepest condolences to her husband Tyree and their loved ones.”
Barbara married Tyree Johnson in 1966, and the couple celebrated their 50th anniversary in November. Since 1989 when they launched the Westside Weekly, they have been an integral voice in the African American community in West Philadelphia. For years, Barbara and Tyree have worked as a "dynamic duo" steadfastly continuing a journalistic tradition that not only informed our community, but also entertained and brought us all together. Barbara was an example to all journalists of color and her voice, positive energy and efforts will undoubtedly be missed.
A viewing will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 24 at Bethany Missionary Baptist Church. A funeral service will follow at 11 a.m.