Mining Richmond’s Black community for 32 years

1/18/2024, 6 p.m.
The first tenet of a free and democratic society is the establishment of an honest and forthright press. And for ...

The first tenet of a free and democratic society is the establishment of an honest and forthright press. And for 32 years, the Richmond Free Press has done just that in our community.

The Free Press has followed in the footsteps of other powerful newspapers such as Freedom’s Journal, founded in New York in 1827 by the Rev. John Wilk and other free Black men in the city, and the North Star, founded in 1847 by Frederick Douglass and Martin Delany.

In doing so, the Richmond Free Press has mined our community for the most important and impactful news as it relates to the Black citizens of this city.

And what a job it has done.

Founding publisher, the late Raymond H. Boone, and his wife, Jean Patterson Boone, have won many awards for the paper’s penetrating coverage of Richmond’s Black community and the news events that impact it.

Raymond Boone indeed was built for the job. He began his newspaper career as a reporter at the Suffolk News-Herald in the late 1950s. He later ran the now-defunct Richmond Afro-American and Planet before moving to Baltimore to serve as vice president of the Afro-American Newspaper Group. He also taught journalism at Howard University and served as a Pulitzer Prize juror.

His widow, Jean Patterson Boone, picked up where he left off. Under her leadership, the paper won the 2020 George Mason Award for outstanding contributions to the field.

In announcing the award in 2020, the Virginia Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists cited the Boones for their leadership of the weekly newspaper that they launched on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday in 1992. The chapter pointed out that the publication has won numerous awards from the Virginia Press Association, the National Newspaper Publishers Association and other organizations.

In recent years, newspapers in this country have been under constant attack from the far right. The chant of “fake news” has been used far too often.

The legacy of the Free Press is that it champions fair and honest reporting on any of number issues. And that should be celebrated.

So congratulations, Richmond Free Press on your 32nd anniversary. There’s nothing fake about your impact on Richmond.