Special Feature: NABJ’s New Voyage – the 2020 Convention
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“To boldly go where no man has gone before.”
Star Trek actors William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols and the late Leonard Nimoy would know
exactly what I mean when I say those words.
I’m applying this familiar phrase to our upcoming first-ever virtual NABJ-NAHJ national
convention in August 2020. We would have been in the capital city Washington, D.C., but now
because of the intrusive COVID-19, we will be in the tech-savvy celestial sphere.
As one of 44 NABJ Founders, this scenario so reminds me of more than 44 years ago when we
gathered in that memorable city and signed a document that created our beloved NABJ. This
stratospheric venture will be similar, and yet far different from those four and a half decades
ago. Here’s what I urge you to consider about this new frontier.
Be adventurous about this trek, but accept reality. I have every faith in the success of what’s
ahead. But there are bound to be technical glitches and missteps. That’s life and this is
unplowed territory. Let’s suck it up and keep it moving when a screen goes blank, audio fails, or
a connection doesn’t connect. We Founders have talked with this gutsy, round-the-clock
working crew that are “slaving” (forgive the term) beyond reason to transform this adventure
from a vision to reality.
It will be easy to tsk-tsk and criticize anything that goes wrong. But how about approaching this
expedition with a position made-up mind: We will take the foibles in stride and celebrate the fact
that we have a never-say-die administration and staff bold enough to even dare take on this
COVID-19 is no wimp. It’s a bully that few dare to stare down. As the virus predictions grew
more dire in earlier months, I would have shut down the convention launch pad and gone home.
But Madame President Dorothy Tucker, Executive Director Drew Berry, and the convention’s
invincible technical and organizational staff stayed the course. They deserve unending kudos for
plowing ahead despite ominous obstacles. They are striving breathlessly still to draw blueprints
for every scenario, down to at-home delivered meals for virtual luncheons and space-age set
ups for job fair interviews.
The following 13 late NABJ pioneers who have gone on before us would have loved this
odyssey. Say their names: Edward Blackwell, Reginald Bryant, Derwood Hall, Vernon Jarrett,
Mal Johnson, Claude Lewis, Acel Moore, Luix Overbea, Les Payne, Alex Poinsett, Max
Robinson, Vince Sanders, and Chuck Stone.
That first voyage on which we founders set sail more than 44 years ago was cutting edge. We
had neither road map nor NASA mission control center to guide us. This cyberspace venture is
another uncharted mission. Let us come aboard, fasten our seat belts, and leave behind any
hint of criticism. Human and technical imperfections surely will rise. Let’s prepare to take them
all in stride. Let’s launch our new mission to boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone
Founder Norma Adams-Wade
The Dallas Morning News