In recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the Inland Empire as a publisher and philanthropist, Hardy Brown will be recognized by the California State University and California State University, San Bernardino with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.
The ceremony will take place during the CSUSB College of Arts & Letters commencement on Saturday, June 14 at 11:45 a.m. in Coussoulis Arena.
“It is truly an honor to recognize Hardy Brown. He and his wife Cheryl are iconic members of our community, celebrating the contributions of our African American community through the Black Voice newspaper and their many community partnerships,” said CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales.
A true patriarch in the Inland Empire’s African American community, Hardy Brown Sr. co-founded Brown Publishing Company to produce a weekly community newspaper, Black Voice News, which focuses on local news in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The Browns, married for 50 years, have been recognized as the only living publishers to be included in the 175th anniversary of the Black Press of America. Their names were added to such historic publishers as Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Carlotta Bass – all of whom overcame great obstacles to publish the truth and to give a voice to the disenfranchised. The multi-platform media company now includes news weekly print and digital editions, two websites, six social media sites, and a strategic communications firm specializing in community outreach and engagement.
In 2001, Mr. Brown founded California Black Media (CBM), a network of African American media owners across the state of California. CBM has served as a statewide initiative to better inform and educate the African American community about key issues that affect their lives. California Black Media consists of 22 African American newspapers across the state.
Passionate about community, students learning marketable skills, and education, the Browns founded the Black Voice Foundation Inc. in 1988, with a mission to train and educate individuals in print media. Due to the digital revolution, the rapid growth of technology in the world of communications and media, and the need to impact lives through a diverse set of media platforms, the Foundation has expanded its mission to include history, art and professional development.
The Foundation creates programs in order to fulfill their commitment to educate and preserve the African-American legacy in the community through the Black Voice Exhibits that last year hosted over 65,000 student and community views at several universities and community events. Other programs include the Opportunity of a Lifetime case study program, which teaches top development skills to students who attend minority-serving universities. Students from CSUSB were awarded champions in this national case study competition on “diversity recruiting” in 2013 beating over 40 other university teams.
Another program, the Footsteps to Freedom Underground Railroad Study Tour, for 17 years has hosted over 550 Inland Empire educators who have brought back to thousands of K – 12 students this unique part of American history. The Footsteps to Freedom Study tour has partnered with the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, Riverside County Office of Education, and National Park Service and a host of corporate sponsors to lead a unique experience to learn first-hand about the incredible courage of the people who sought freedom or who helped others achieve it along probable routes of the Underground Railroad from Kentucky to Canada.