MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - With more than six decades of chronicling the trials and triumphs of this community, the New Tri-State Defender is both inspiring and elevating into
a new era.
A photograph showing African American boys holding the first publication of the Tri-State Defender newspaper in 1951 tells the story of how it all began.
For those young African American boys in Memphis, it was their first job.
"There are so many who say as a kid, I threw the newspaper or I sold the Tri-State Defender for a nickel," said owner and publisher Bernal Smith II.
The paper started as a tool to cover the birth of the civil rights movement.
The Tri-State Defender was instrumental in covering historic events that captured national headlines including the Little Rock Nine and the murder of Emmett Till.
"And also of course covering the untimely assassination of Dr. King," said Smith.
Smith bought the paper in 2013. Through the years the paper has served as the primary voice of the African American community.
As headlines about police brutality and discrimination resurface, Smith says he pushes the paper to continue going beyond just reporting the news.
"We're getting into the issues and in some instances really being a tool for change," said Smith.
Next month on March 25th on the campus of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the paper will host its 'Legends and Leaders Gala' honoring trailblazers of the past.
"But also link those individuals to this new generation of leadership," explained Smith.
Leadership that now reaches across multi-media platforms extending the New-Tri-State Defender into the next 65 years.
For more information about the gala, click here.