A community voice

Don Black and the Dayton Weekly News

By Zach Rogers

Photo: [l to r] Donerik Black and his father, Don Black in the Dayton Weekly News office

Don Black is a man of many trades – businessman, entrepreneur, publisher and co-founder of the Dayton Weekly News, Dayton’s longest running African-American community newspaper – and he’s worn more than a few hats during his 40-plus year career in the city. He’s seen and done it all, and speaks with the tone of someone wise with years of experience, yet eager to still wake up and discover something new.

“I love what I do, and I enjoy every minute of it,” said Black in a phone conversation. “I still get excited every Monday morning to come to the office and see what’s new. That’s the beauty of this business – it’s never the same, and every week there’s something new, some sort of challenge for me to investigate.”

A longtime community activist and leader in the city, Black currently works as publisher and editor of the Dayton Weekly News, the community newspaper he co-founded with his son Donerik Black in 1993.

“The Dayton Weekly News is a newspaper that’s geared primarily to reflect the news and information interests of the regional Dayton African-American community,” Black explained. “We cover local news and events, things going on in the local community that people are talking about, as well as some statewide and national news and events. We try to provide in-depth reporting on the issues facing the city of Dayton, particularly within the African-American community, but also look at how those same issues affect everybody in the community as a whole.”

Black set out on a mission back in ’93, one that perhaps he never could have imagined would put the newspaper where it is today, celebrating its 20th anniversary this past February. The history of African-American newspapers in Dayton is long, but sporadic, with many coming and going throughout the years since Paul Lawrence Dunbar started The Tattler in 1890, which lasted about six weeks. With the Dayton Weekly News, Black was determined to uphold an historic legacy, but also wanted something more solid and long lasting.

“I was determined if I got started with the paper that I was going to stick with it regardless,” Black said. “It’s something that’s taken a lot of sacrifice, but I wanted to make sure I was doing whatever it took to keep the paper going.”

Born and raised in Chicago, Ill., Black moved to Dayton during his sophomore year of high school, and lived with his grandmother for the remainder of his youth. After graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1963, Black continued his education at Sinclair Community College and Wright State University, where he studied mass communication and marketing. In 1970, he started Don Black Associates Photography & Public Relations, which specialized in commercial photography for a number of companies, big and small. Looking to get out of the photography business and cut his teeth in public relations, he founded Multi-Western Public Relations/Marketing in 1977, a PR agency that worked with everything from schools, hospitals and non-profit organizations to major Fortune 500 companies.

After years in the PR world and serving Dayton on a number of wide-ranging non-profit boards and community advisory committees, Black again found himself wanting to further his expertise. He had some previous experience working with newspapers as a freelancer for different city and statewide publications, including The Cleveland Call & Post and The Cincinnati Herald, but felt there was still more he could do.

“In 1992, I was approached by a newspaper out of Columbus to head a newspaper here in Dayton with their tag on it,” Black explained. “They were trying to go statewide, and they saw Dayton as a new market. My son and I helped build that paper up in Dayton as far as with advertising and editorial content, but ultimately we ran into some differences and had to end our relationship with them after a couple of months.”

Even so, both men felt like the city needed a paper that could represent a specific voice within the community.

“The African-American community is a large community, and it hits all segments of the region, from Dayton on out to Kettering, Centerville, Huber Heights, all those areas,” said Black. “We felt like there was still a void of news and information directed towards that particular audience, and that Dayton needed that void to be filled. So we thought, ‘hey, why not do it ourselves?’”

With that, another company, MWC Publishing, was born, and it began publishing the Dayton Weekly News. The first issue hit the streets on Nov. 25, 1993. Donerik co-founded and worked with his father for over 18 years before leaving to pursue other interests and business ventures, just like his dad. Today, Black continues to build upon the newspaper’s legacy with the same determination he’s always given it.

“I’ve always tried to show a broader side of the African-American community and bring another viewpoint to the issues facing our city,” Black said. “Even though we aren’t exempt from all the crime and violence that plague our society, we’ve tried to balance that with stories that show the community as a real multiplex, with people living and enjoying their lives, working jobs, raising families, getting an education and things like that.”

For more information on Don Black and the Dayton Weekly News, please call 937.223.8060, visit facebook.com/daytonweekly or email info@thedaytonweekly.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Zach Rogers at ZachRogers@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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