Acel Moore on the founding of PABJ & NABJ

Acel Moore was a reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer, starting out as a copy boy in 1962. In 1968, an organization called Black Communicators that included Blacks in all media was formed.

The group functioned for about three or four years, gave out scholarships and worked with students. Some people, however, wanted to form an organization made up entirely of working journalists.

In 1973, Acel, Chuck Stone and Claude Lewis sent out letters with their newspapers’ logos (Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Evening Bulletin, respectively) to about three dozen reporters asking them to meet to consider forming a group. At the time, they had determined that there were about 120 Black journalists working in all media from Trenton to Wilmington.

Those who met named the organization the Association of Black Journalists, with Chuck as the first president. Artist Earl E. Davis created the logo.

“It was an attempt from the beginning to increase our numbers, to be in a position to tell our own stories, to be a pressure point inside the industry,” Acel said.

ABJ ran community workshops on accessing the media and held a series of lunches with newsmakers. One of its biggest projects was the annual banquet, which drew more than 1,000 people. Speakers included then-FCC Commissioner Benjamin Hooks, Sen. Hubert Humphrey and Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson.

The group also spoke on behalf of its members who had been unfairly treated. Among other black organizations, Acel said, ABJ was looked upon as “militant.”

In 1974, Acel and Reggie Bryant hosted a show called “Black Perspectives on the News” on WHYY-12 that featured major newsmakers. It was a weekly show that ran for five years.

“It provided a vehicle for print and broadcast journalists to work together,” Acel said.

Black journalists covering an event in Washington in 1975 came together to talk about forming a national organization. ABJ’s constitution and bylaws served as the model.

“Max Robinson hosted the group. A lot of people were afraid to put their names on the list (to form the organization). A lot of them didn’t sign,” Acel said. “No one would have predicted that the organization would have evolved to have the influence it has. Some people said it wouldn’t work.”

PABJ was the forerunner to the National Association of Black Journalists, which was formed on Dec. 3, 1975, in Washington, DC, by 44 journalists.

 

 

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