Annual Edition 'Buying Power of
Black America' report breaks down billions in expenditures Black
consumers are responding to tighter economic condition by focusing more of
their spending on items and services that improve their homes and
lifestyle. That's one of the trends revealed in the 15th annual report,
"The Buying Power of Black America," published by Target Market News. The
report analyzes spending for black households in 2008 and finds that
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Grande dame of black journalism, Evelyn Cunningham, passes at 94 By
N.Y. Amsterdam News (April 30, 2010) Evelyn Cunningham, the grande dame of
African-American journalism, died Wednesday morning. She was 94.
[A memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday, May 4 at 2 p.m. at St.
Philip's Episcopal Church, 204 West 134th St., in New York City.]
In her long and productive career, Cunningham was ubiquitous, covering
nearly every major national event from 1940 to 1962, including the Civil
Rights Movement, for the Pittsburgh Courier. A serious but personable
journalist, her interviews with such notables as Dr. Martin Luther King
Jr., Rosa Parks and Malcolm X revealed facts about them that were not
During an interview on PBS, she recounted one of her moments with Dr.
King right after his house in Montgomery had been firebombed in January
1956. "I dashed over to Dr. King's house and, sure enough, the front of
the house was demolished. He was not hurt. His wife was not hurt.
"There was only one child at that moment," Cunningham continued, "but
you have no idea the impact of standing there watching this young man
plead with these hundreds of people...standing in front of his house
with Coke bottles and pipes, getting ready to go into town and beat up
somebody, to watch him tell them to be calm...that was not the way. It
was a no-win situation to take the bottles and the pipes and go start a
fight. You could not do it that way."
It was not unusual for Cunningham to be right in the mix of things. As a
reporter for the Courier, she was dispatched all over the world and her
byline was something Black readers grew accustomed to, knowing she would
"tell it like it is" and not be afraid to speak truth to power.
Cunningham was born on January 25, 1916, in Elizabeth City, N.C. As a
child, she expressed, perhaps humorously, that she wanted to pick cotton
when she grew up. That desire was enough for her parents -- a cab driver
and dressmaker -- to pack their belongings and head for Harlem.
An inveterate reader with endless curiosity, Cunningham excelled in
school, graduating from Hunter College High School in 1934. Nine years
later, she had her bachelor's degree in social sciences from Long Island
Even before acquiring her college degree, she had begun working at the
Courier, beginning by clipping stories from the major white publications
and rewriting them for Black readers. In her capacity at the Courier for
a quarter of century, she functioned as a reporter, columnist and city
editor. Because of her fearless coverage of the Civil Rights Movement,
she was often referred to as the "Lynching Editor."
Many Harlemites fondly recall when she traveled with the late Percy
Sutton and other NAACP members to Rosedale, Md., in 1961, where they
staged a protest against a restaurant that discriminated against Black
patrons. The group was arrested, found guilty of trespassing and fined
That incident and others, including her coverage of lynchings, were
often the source of discussion on her radio show on WLIB in New York, a
show she hosted for five years, with opportunities to interview a number
of significant figures in politics, arts and entertainment, and the
In the late '60s, she set aside journalism to work as a special
assistant to Jackie Robinson, who was a political consultant to Gov.
Nelson Rockefeller. She accompanied the governor to several Caribbean
countries, where she compiled a report on racial and gender problems.
When the New York Coalition of One Hundred Black Women was formed in
1970, Cunningham was among the charter members. But it would be an act
in futility to list all the organizations and institutions that
benefited from her presence and sagely advice.
Cunningham was one of five former reporters of the Courier to receive
the prestigious George Polk Award in 1998 on behalf of the paper,
founded by Robert Vann in 1910. That same year, the Century Club honored
her with the Women of the Century Award, which is among a number of
coveted awards adorning her walls in Harlem.
One of the last times she was seen in public was at the Apollo Theater
when Barack Obama appeared there during his campaign. "This is quite
incredible," she said of Obama's chances. "I never thought I'd live to
see such a possibility."
But that's an eventuality that Cunningham shouldn't be too surprised by,
since it was her pioneering journalism, indomitable will and
determination to get the stories and get them back to the people that
made Obama's victory a reality.