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Ben Phillips’ remarks on the induction of Carl J. Murphy to the MDDC Hall of Fame

by Benjamin Phillips IV, President, The AFRO-American Newspapers
Delivered May 28, 2015 at the University of Maryland, College Park

On behalf of the Murphy family, I am delighted that the Press Association is inducting our grandfather into the Hall of Fame where he  now joins our founder and other AFRO notables such as Sam Lacy and Moses Newson.Ben Phillips IV, President of the AFRO-American Newspapers

It is amazing that today, when my grandfather  is being commemorated, that the Press Association is also welcoming the 2015 Summer Interns -- providing these aspiring journalists  an opportunity  for invaluable on-the-job training, which was a very high priority while  my grandfather and his family  built a successful enterprise.  As a result, a number of prominent journalists  cut their teeth at the AFRO and moved on to successful careers in media.  If he were here today to see these aspiring interns, I am sure he would shake hands with each one - with a smile - and give words of encouragement.

Carl Murphy remarked on his early life and the beginnings of the AFRO in his acceptance of the Spingarn Medal at the 46th NAACP Annual Convention in Atlantic City, NJ June 24, 1955:  "I was born two stories above a printing office.  The typecases were in the cellar of our house and the older children and my father worked there.  When I was three, my father bought the AFRO-American for $200 and set it up in a print shop a block away."

Members of the family working at the AFRO often respond to questions regarding their tenure by simply stating that their start date is their birth date and we all have ink in our blood.

Carl Murphy was a courageous leader and firmly committed to the We - and accomplished many successes through partnerships that he recognized whenever accepting any award as well as on the pages of the AFRO (but often his name would not be mentioned).  This extended to the support base of the AFRO family that included generations of families - Murphy ownership and employees. As we say, once you work at the AFRO you are family.

As a publisher, he believed in telling the whole story objectively and reserving opinions for the Editorial page. You had a small sampling of his style today.

In a few short weeks, the AFRO will celebrate 123 years. If he were alive today, I am sure he would want to provide some encouragement to those just starting out and implore us all to do even more for our craft.

Our environment has changed vastly, and he along with his brothers were early adopters of new technology.  I believe grandfather would be proud that under our current CEO and Publisher Jake Oliver, the company has continued to be in the forefront of embracing and implementing new technology that keeps us contemporary in the marketplace .

I also think he may also remind us to remember to preserve our profession' s credibility by vigorously enforcing industry standards and not waver.

In closing, let me share with you the challenge passed to the family by our founder:

“I measure a newspaper not in buildings, equipment and employees -  those are trimmings.  A newspaper succeeds because its management believes in itself, in God and in the present generation.  It must always ask itself whether it has kept faith with the common people; whether it has no other goal except to see that their liberties are preserved and their future assured; whether it is fighting to get rid of slums, to provide jobs for everybody; whether it stays out of politics except to expose corruption and condemn injustice, race prejudice and cowardice of compromise.  The AFRO has always had a loyal constituency who believe it honest, decent and progressive.  It is that kind of newspaper and I hope it never changes."

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