February 6, 2024 | www.baltimoresun.com
Armstrong Williams is the new owner, along with David Smith, of the Baltimore Sun. Williams speaks about the new venture at Howard Stirk Holdings, his media company, in Washington. He’s known as a conservative political commentator who hosts a nationally syndicated television show on Sinclair network affiliates. (Kim Hairston/Staff photo)
February 6, 2024 at 5:45 a.m.
Today, we live in an era defined by widespread social injustice and inequality. Yet, the co-acquisition of The Baltimore Sun by Armstrong Williams, a Black American entrepreneur, is a source of encouragement and optimism in a world that is otherwise bleak. In my role as a civil rights attorney, I am cognizant of the significant impact that Black entrepreneurship has on elevating the economic freedom and intergenerational prosperity of Black Americans. Moreover, I consider this development to be emblematic of a more extensive and consequential narrative of Black entrepreneurship and the role it plays in the lives of Black Americans.
The co-acquisition of the paper by Williams helps highlight the fundamental truth that economic empowerment overcomes differences in ideology. Let there be no doubt that this purchase is an exceptionally courageous action. Obtaining such a platform is not without its detractors, but I am certain that Williams and his partner, David Smith, will make every effort to guarantee truth, transparency and a variety of diverse perspectives; something that some in the media of today have forgotten.
This holds significant importance, especially in a society where the media exerts substantial control over public sentiment and the construction of narratives. William’s co-acquisition of The Baltimore Sun virtually ensures that the experiences, obstacles and triumphs of Black Americans are not only recognized but also understood and depicted in an authentic and comprehensive manner. But not only that, it will ensure that The Baltimore Sun will resist detractors of truth generally and that honesty, transparency and reality will be a marker of a paper that was once marked by a reputation of racism.
Ironically, The Baltimore Sun advocated racist ideologies, segregation and even more divisive racist action for decades when it began in 1837. Now, today, The Baltimore Sun is under co-ownership by an individual who is of the very race against which the paper published articles. Williams, however, would argue that his race is inconsequential. He is one of the most colorblind people I know. Yet, although he abstains from judging individuals according to their fixed attributes, he nevertheless acknowledges the plight of Black Americans.
William’s life story has stood as an enduring testament to the tenacity and resolve that have come to define the course of the Black American community in the United States. It is vital to point out to young Black children that their ambitions are not constrained by socioeconomic factors or the color of their skin. The successes attained by Williams should function as a model, illuminating a path toward attaining enduring financial autonomy. These are fundamental components in the ongoing pursuit of social progression and equality.
Newspapers play a pivotal role in the community. They create jobs and internships; they help local businesses gain recognition and local heroes gain the spotlight. They do all of these things not just because they are profitable, but more so because it’s good for the community that the paper serves. Now, with Willaims at the helm of The Sun, the newspaper can create internships for underprivileged youth, it can recognize businesses in need of a boost, and it can give a spotlight to the people who do good for their communities. The newspaper can do all of this independently, without fear.
This holds particular meaning for the Black community, given its enduring economic hardships. With Williams as a co-owner, my expectation is that he will make every effort to guarantee that The Sun provides economic empowerment to the Black community. Not only that, but I have no doubt the co-ownership of Williams will herald in a new era and profession of journalism in Baltimore. By reinstating local ownership of the paper, money will be reinvested into the community. Furthermore, the profession will benefit from William’s example, as a man of integrity and bravery, who will without a doubt enable journalists to reestablish the time-honored ethics of journalism that have been lost today.
As a significant step toward continued economic equality and empowerment, Armstrong Williams’ co-ownership of the Baltimore Sun signifies a monumental accomplishment. Despite political divisions, it unquestionably demonstrates that economic freedom and the path to wealth creation remain indispensable components that empower Black Americans to determine their own destinies. This accomplishment ought to be celebrated as a forward-thinking advance toward greater representation, which should transcend the media and permeate all aspects of American life where the voices of Black Americans need to be amplified.
Benjamin Crump (bencrump.com; X: @AttorneyCrump) is a prominent civil rights attorney. Among his clients are the families of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Breonna Taylor.