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The Challenger, a voice for the Black community, nears 60th Anniversary

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — All month News 4 has been telling you stories to celebrate Black History Month. To continue the celebration, we’re highlighting the work of The Challenger, a locally-owned newspaper that highlights issues and events in the Black community.

The Challenger launched on April 11, 1963, and has evolved through the years from charging 10 cents to being free, from reporting on issues in the Civil Rights era to reporting on modern-day issues.

The Challenger is just two months away from turning 60 years old.

“Sixty years means that we are on the right path and that we’re necessary and we’re looking forward to 60 more,” said Al-Nisa Banks, the owner of the paper, who started here more than 40 years ago as a volunteer.

“When you really look back at the old issues the more things change, the more they stay the same,” Banks said.

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Issues such as police brutality, racism and crime. The paper has grown over the years to also focus on entertainment, arts and health.

“My daughter Leah just started her own health column in the paper, which is really becoming quite popular,” Banks said.

Leah, as in Leah Hamilton, she’s in charge of digital, updating The Challenger’s website and app. Al-Nisa has another daughter Shola, who works on the paper as well.

“That’s the front page of the website, where we have advertisers and we run our recent cover, which I’m going to change right now, ” Leah said.

Stories that appear in the paper come from all over. Most of the photography is original. And, if you think this newsroom isn’t busy, think again.

“We print up to the minute actually, we have a cut-off, we have to have a deadline,” Banks said, “We deliver all over the community, we also go to Rochester and always had a Rochester edition, Niagara Falls and Lackawanna, but mostly in the City of Buffalo.”

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Banks says The Challenger prints 16,000 copies per week.

So, when you pick up The Challenger next time, remember the family bond that’s behind these stories.

“Every day is Black History Day, we are history, we’re making history every day, so we’re proud to be able to do that,” Banks said.

The Challenger still has not decided how it will celebrate 60 years. Banks plans on keeping the newspaper within her family in the future.

Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.

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