NEW YORK—New York City recently came together on the hallowed ground of one of America’s premier activist oriented Black churches, the Brooklyn-based The House of the Lord, to celebrate, the former long-time editor-in-chief of the New York Amsterdam News, Nayaba Arinde.
Referred to as the modern Ida B. Wells of journalism by one of the speakers gathered at the December 17 celebration in her honor, Arinde’s legacy and continued work was applauded and honored.
New York City Councilman Charles Barron so succinctly put Arinde’s commitment to serving the interest of the Black community in perspective. “Who’s going to put Minister Farrakhan properly in his proper perspective in a newspaper—Nayaba,” said the councilman, referring to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation.
“This historic church is consistent with a historic sister who is the most radical revolutionary militant editor-in-chief in the nation, bar none. And we remember (South Africa’s) Steve Biko saying, the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. And the only way to get to the mind of the oppressed is through words—powerful, uncompromising words,” the councilman added.
Poet Zayid Muhammad, who called the church, where the event was held, “the peoples home,” said, “Nayaba was not just a queen, but a warrior queen walking in the foot- steps of Ida B. Wells fighting these crackers, utilizing any means necessary.” He encouraged the audience, to say with him, “Celebrate this warrior queen because that’s what she is … ”
During the evening, it was shared that Arinde left the Amsterdam News over several differences, including that she wasn’t willing to capitulate with the publication’s new non-journalism background, Pennsylvania Lehigh County-based, White management which was overseeing the paper’s “content.”
As one speaker put it, Arinde refused to go along with the “gentrification of the Black media” policy, which is what the speaker called the paper’s new direction.
Responding to the principled stand Arinde made, Zayid Muhammad said, “Because when the drum is taken from us, and the voice is silenced and a tongue has been stripped, there needs to be a ‘how do we recover meeting, a how do we respond meeting, a how do we react, how do we adjust, and how to we fix what occurred?’”
Student Minister Henry Muhammad of Mosque No. 7C in Brooklyn, told the gathering that this should be a cry for “unity.” He said, there is one thing to be able to communicate, however, it’s another thing entirely to have in place a mechanism to be able to get that word you’re trying to communicate into the hearts and the minds of the people that word is meant for.
Student Minister Henry Muhammad mentioned The Final Call newspaper, and the importance of having independent news outlets that serve the “needs” of the Black community.
“We need to form some kind of coalition to increase our media voice, and to safeguard those (that represent us) like Nayaba,” he said.
Professor James Small, former imam of Muslim Mosque Inc., founded by Malcolm X and one-time member of the Organization of Afro American Unity, echoed Student Minister Henry Muhammad’s sentiments.
“Whatever it takes for us to come together and whatever we got to do, we’ll do it,” said Prof. Small. He then quoted Haitian Emperor and leader of the Haitian Revolution, Jean-Jacques Dessalines’ “liberty or death” proclamation inscribed on the native flag when he tore the white from the French tricolor.
“The term history erases the mystery,” the professor quoted. He added, “The journalist is the voice before history. You are the ones that point out the dangers.”
Omowale Clay of the December 12 Movement also shared remarks on the importance of the work and role of Arinde and independent Black media. It is a way Black people are able to tell their story, he explained. “So that history is very important to use because it is a way of telling the people the truth.”
He added, “The Black press is shrinking, (on top of) it being a very dangerous time for us. People are now tossing around the word ‘fascism.’ For Black people the term may not necessarily resonate. But what it means, we’ve lived that life.
It was us hanging from trees, or somehow hanging ourselves in jails, or somehow being shot by a police officer with no gun on the victim to be found. So that history is very important to use because it is a way of telling the people the truth.”
Former City Councilwoman Inez Barron, knew Arinde before the now deceased Amsterdam News publisher Wilbert Tatum. She asked her to become editor-in-chief some 18 years ago. “Nayaba has been on the front lines telling, always (telling our stories), and doing it consistently.
And so, as newspapers and information shrink, it’s very important for us to make sure that a journalist, publicist and organizer, and agitator, and member of our Black liberation movement continues to be able to use that voice,” said Inez Barron.
“So, when we have someone that has demonstrated excellence at leadership utilizing all of those qualities, we expect that as long as we can keep supporting that person in the great work that they are doing that they will continue to manifest those talents,” she added.
The iconic pastor of The House of the Lord is 93-year-old Reverend Dr. Herbert Daughtry, who hails from a family that produced five generations of church leaders. He is also the former chair of the Black United Front. After a very long day in the field working, he humorously and jokingly told those gathered to honor Nayaba Arinde, that he broke a bunch of traffic violations getting to the church, “because I had to be here because I just love this sister.”
When one door closes another one opens. “This is their (New York Amsterdam News) loss and our gain, said State Senator Cordell Cleare, whose district includes Harlem. She presented a proclamation to Arinde that read in part, “Whereas the great state is only as great as those individuals and organizations who perform exemplary service on behalf of their communities,
Whether through unique achievement or professional and other endeavors, honor Nayaba Arinde for her lifetime of commitment to Black journalism, for telling the stories of the Black diaspora.” Arinde will be taking over duties as the state senator’s head of communications.
Nayaba Arinde grew up in England and her parents are Nigerian. She shared with The Final Call her appreciation for the tribute and fundraiser and what it meant to her.
“I was really, really very humbled and very grateful,” Arinde said. “Because you never know if the people you’re working for actually see what you are trying to do with your work. And I felt like after writing in the U.S. for almost 30 years, people seemed to get where I was going for, and that was to represent the community on a grassroots level.”