2018 Marks The Challenger’s 55rd Anniversary
The early history is a story as compelling as the era that gave birth to its existence.
It All Began In 1963.
In the sixties, Black America was at a civil/human rights crossroads. The sit-ins, demonstrations, pickets and marches against racism and segregation in the south and second class citizenship for Blacks across the country, were met with violence and hatred; with guns and fire hoses, and even death.
It was against this backdrop that The Challenger was born. Just a little over a decade after the Supreme Court Decision outlawing racial segregation in public schools, the very first edition of The Challenger hit the streets of Buffalo’s Black community on April 11, 1963. It was also the year that civil rights leader Medgar Evers was murdered; that the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed by White supremacists, killing four innocent children; and the year that Dr. Martin Luther King made his famous “I Have A Dream Speech” at the historic March on Washington.
Former Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve, Calvin Kimbrough and John Moore were the founders of this bold, new Black voice for Buffalo’s African American community. The Challenger was a true advocate, speaking out for the rights of Black people and offering Buffalo’s Black community a real alternative to an otherwise negative and hostile White press. Whether it was calling for an end to de-facto segregation, reporting police brutality; admonishing apathy among local Black leadership; or reporting national news as it related to the Black community, The Challenger was truly a voice of community.
The Legacy Continues
That legacy has continued under the leadership of Al-Nisa Banks over the past 39 years. Ms. Banks, who started out as a volunteer at the paper in 1979, serves at the publication’s helm in both ownership capacity and as the Challenger’s editor and publisher. Together with her daughters Leah Hamilton (Associate Publisher) and Shola Clark ( Administration Manager) a dedicated staff and a host of volunteers, the Challenger has survived both as a small business and as an institution in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Under her guidance, the staff has continued to improve the quality of the publication in both print and digital capacities. Today the Challenger is the largest circulated Black newspaper in the state outside of New York City with a core readership in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse,Niagara Falls, Lackawanna and surrounding areas. Presently located in the heart of the Jefferson Avenue Renaissance initiative at 1337 Jefferson Avenue, The Challenger publishes every Wednesday and is recognized widely, both locally and nationally, as one of the most progressive African American newspapers in the country.
The Challenger’s goals are to continue to grow and improve its ability to communicate and disseminate critical information to its readers both in print and electronically, and to remain an instrument for good, and positive change for African Americans where ever they may be.