Bay State Banner suspends publication – A tremendous loss! 15

It was with great sorrow that I read that the Bay State Banner has suspended publication.  In an article buried in the Boston Globe on page B9, “Bay State Banner suspends publication as revenue falls.”  (Here is the link to the article in the Herald, “Bay State Banner Suspends Publication.”

Mel Miller, publisher and founder of the Banner, is quoted as saying that the suspension is because of “financial reasons.”  The reporter goes on to state that he didn’t say how long the suspension would last, leaving the idea that it may only be temporary. (I sure hope this is the case.)

I have linked to the Banner several times on this blog.  It is an essential institution for the African-American community in Greater Boston, crucial to covering events about Black Boston that go beyond the sensationalism of the other major dailies, and consistent in its reportage of positive stories both big and small that show the breadth of concerns, events and activities within Black Boston.  This coverage was important to all ethnic groups in Boston because it showed them a side of the Black populace of the city that the Globe and Herald rarely touched and a perspective that they didn’t usually offer. 

I first came to know the Banner when I was a 19 year-old college student looking to write about the arts.  Kay Bourne, then the arts reporter for the Banner, welcomed me with open arms and gave me an opportunity to review plays.  I went on to review books and publish interviews with several people the most famous of whom was Toni Morrison.

In those days, the Banner was located in the heart of the Dudley Business District at 25 Ruggles Street.  I would see the formidable though personable Mr. Miller, rolling up his sleeves to get the paper out.  I remember meeting the late, great reporter, Luix Overbea, there.  After a hiatus when my daughter was first born, I returned to submitting reviews to the Banner and helped publicize many a Black novel and Black/multicultural children’s books.  In the late 70s and early 80s, I could pretty much read everything that was published by Black fiction and children’s authors.

Ads in the Banner led me to three jobs, including the highlight of my career (thus far), directorship of ACT Roxbury.  The Banner has been a supporting factor in my work and I’ve read it unfailingly each week. 

The meaning of the Banner and the work of the Banner is not easily summed up so I will give this list, which I know is incomplete:

  • It covered emerging and mature, known and unknown Black achievers of international, national and local visibility. 
  • It covered local events, enabling the individuals and institutions who produced these events and activities to have clips to support their funding applications and record that they’d happened.
  • It allowed community residents to see that their lives, activities, and opinions had meaning by covering weddings, luncheons, graduations, scholarships, academic and career achievements.
  • It provided a mirror on the community’s view of itself by covering the spectrum of community activities instead of merely focusing on the sensational, the violence and poverty that other news outlets were prone to do.  (Doing research for Discover Roxbury a year or so ago, I looked at dozens of week’s of Banner coverage that provided me with a perspective on the busing crisis and the riots that were ignored or glossed over by the other papers.)
  • It was the place for community organizations, non-community organizations, entertainers, the arts community, social service organizations, etc., to get the word out about events, activities, grants, jobs, etc.

Publishing a newspaper week-after-week is a grueling undertaking even if you are well resourced.  For a publication that is under-resourced like the Banner, it requires blood, sweat, tears, ingenuity, business acumen, determination, stubbornness, an understanding how crucial it is to have Blacks at the helm of their own media, and love.  All of these are attributes that Mel Miller has.  Making a weekly payroll is no mean feat.  Having a business that provides jobs and internship opportunities was admirable.I don’t know how deep the sacrifices Mel and his family have made to keep the paper going for 44 years, but I know they made some. They had to..

There’s an old saying that comes to mind – “All goodbye, ain’t gone.”  I hope this is the case with the Banner.  I hope that an investor or buyer comes quickly to purchase this paper.  We all know that the traditional newspaper is under assault because of the changing nature of how the public gets their news.  The Banner going away has even more important for Boston’s Black community.  There is simply no one to replace what the Banner has done. 

Boston has an unfortunate track record of losing businesses and institutions that are never replaced or become shadow of their former selves. (For more on this, see my blog post:  Boston’s Black on Black Crime.)

I am proud to have supported the Banner as it has supported me.  I supported it by – writing for it (as a volunteer), advertising in it (including having 5 editions of the Roxbury is Rich Holiday Shopping Guide insert in its pages), getting businesses to carry it, and getting other business and organizations to advertise in it. 

Without the Banner’s support as media sponsor, the programs of ACT Roxbury, especially the Roxbury Film Festival and Roxbury Open Studios would not have been as successful as they became.

I am in serious mourning at the Banner’s suspension of services and I hope for a resurrection.  Meanwhile, I offer this post as a tiny way of saying thanks for being.

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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15 thoughts on “Bay State Banner suspends publication – A tremendous loss!

  • William Murrell

    You have said it best.

    >>>I am in serious mourning at the Banner’s suspension of services and I hope for a resurrection.<< Ditto! Me too!! Saw your blog article in the Technorati cloud just now and I was shocked! I hope the Banner returns soon.
    – digitalPlumber

  • William Murrell

    You have said it best.

    >>>I am in serious mourning at the Banner’s suspension of services and I hope for a resurrection.<< Ditto! Me too!! Saw your blog article in the Technorati cloud just now and I was shocked! I hope the Banner returns soon.
    – digitalPlumber

  • George Buggs

    If the Banner is taken away then the drum is removed from the village center and the tribe loses its voice and connection to its past. It will be the griot falling ill, and no one stepping forward in the griot’s stead. Who then will give voice in such a singular, unique fashion to the pride, the joy, the sadnesss, the sorrow of African- American Boston as does the Banner? Who will praise our leaders and chastise those who fail to lead? Who will show us our history, our current condition and the possibilities of our future accomplishments? We need the Bay State Banner. It is fundamental to who we are.

  • Celia

    Thanks for putting this into perspective… The loss of this publication is a huge hole in our connectedness. We have to figure out something new to get the word out about the happenings in our world.

  • Sandra

    To both Candelaria and Ron Newman – thank you for adding such intelligent comments on this situation – to this blog, and to the other online articles about the Banner’s demise. REading some of the other comments on and other places has been scary – there’s a lot of hatred out there – and very little thought behind the hatful racists comments like “we don’t read ebonics..”, etc. Seems a lot of resentment about a “black paper” – when they can’t have a “white paper”. Such ignorant comments. So thank you for taking the time to add thoughtful comments. I get too angry my comments would not pass their review process!

  • Candelaria

    You’re right, blogs don’t replace newspapers.  In the print and television medium people are tending to read only the specific and narrow info they’re interested in rather than being exposed to more general, broad info.  Newspapers do present a broader array of info about society.  They don’t always get things right and do have their biases but they inform better than blogs.  I don’t know the solution, either but I know not having print publications that inform people of what’s going on and hold larger societal institutions accountable in the very public way newspapers are able to do so, is damaging to a free society.

  • Candelaria

    The comments on the Globe’s website ( were scary. Under the cloak of anonymity, people say also sorts of narrow things.  Some of these people, however, will read the Irish Times, The Dorchester Reporter, etc., newspapers that all have a specific audience and focus as well they should.  I left comments on but decided to use this post to say what I feel.  My respect and love go out to you and Mel for all your work at the Banner.  I’m hoping for a reprieve.

  • Jim

    I don’t usually read the comments following newspaper articles. I have found that the comments following almost any article, regardless of the topic, are full of vitriol, ignorance and stupidity. Racism is typically a trait of stupid, angry people and the anonymous comments forum gives them a place to rant. A lot of those ignoramuses wilt in the light, however it frightens me that they breed.