“We try to highlight some of the positive things that happen in our community. It’s easy to write about negative stuff all the time,” says Cloves C. Campbell Jr., who has dedicated his life to positively representing the Black community in newsprint media. His father, Cloves C. Campbell Sr., was the very first African American elected to the Arizona Senate and in 1969, he created the state’s oldest and largest African American weekly newspaper, The Arizona Informant.
Cloves C. Campbell Jr. has since taken over as publisher for the paper. In fact, he is considered a pioneer of Black leadership who continues to share informational and uplifting stories surrounding the Black community today. Arizona PBS spoke with Mr. Campbell about his accomplishments and why Black representation matters.
Arizona PBS: As the current owner and publisher of the Arizona Informant, what are you doing to ensure that Black history is kept alive in our community?
Cloves Campbell: If you look at our newspaper, our motto has always been that ‘We record Black history every week.’ 98% of the news you read in our publication, you probably won’t read anywhere else. Our goal is to highlight the achievements and accomplishments of the African-American community and make sure we can find those stories — find those individuals — that are doing positive things.
AZPBS: Thinking about the Black Lives Matter movement and the national political climate, do you believe that the Black community is marginalized?
Campbell: Well, absolutely. In 1966, when my dad was first elected to the Senate, he was the only African American senator there out of 30 individuals. Fast forward to today, and we have no African American senators. I think there’s really a big void in representation for African Americans as a whole.
AZPBS: Why is representation in the media important?
Campbell: Without the Black press, there’s really no real major media outlets out there covering the African American community and highlighting some of the things that we’re doing. Young people have never really seen themselves in print, and when they do, they get really excited. We want to keep them excited and put them on the front pages of our publication.
AZPBS: For years you have dedicated your life to activism and social justice in the office and out, how do you keep the fight going?
Campbell: One, these three little grandkids running around my house. But really, it’s every time I wake up, it’s an opportunity to help somebody. If I can do something to help a kid get a scholarship, help somebody get a job, or anyway we can highlight an opportunity to get somebody and put them in a better situation, that’s the reason I wake up every day.
AZPBS: How are you and the Arizona Informant celebrating Black History Month?
Campbell: Black History Month is just one month and at our newspaper, at our business, we celebrate Black history every day.
AZPBS: What are you most proud of?
Campbell: I’ve been able to lead delegations in Africa, to China, in Germany, to talk about the Black press, and to create greater opportunities for Black persons in those different countries. I spent a lot of time while I was in the legislature and in leadership with the Black president, the White House when President Obama was in office. That opportunity alone, to be with the history makers, is probably one of my biggest accomplishments.
AZPBS: Are there still more things that need to be done?
Campbell: There’s a whole lot of work to be done. Our goal is to continue to increase the awareness of African-American issues in our city and in our state.
*Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed.
Photos, from top: Campbell speaking at the National Urban League “State of Black America” forum at Howard University in Washington D.C. Campbell with current Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris. Campbell posing by a display of early issues of his newspaper, The Arizona Informant. All photos courtesy Cloves C. Campbell Jr.