Honoring Black History: The Community Voice empowers the voices of Black Kansans

Black History Month

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – “No one was speaking to the African-American communities across the state,” said Bonita Gooch.

Back in 1995, that changed when The Community Voice came along. A newspaper designed to give a voice to Black Kansans.

“We want to bring things to our readers from their perspective,” Gooch said.

Gooch started leading the team in 1996 as editor-in-chief. She’s now also the paper’s publisher.

“We work very hard at developing a level of trust with our readers. So, they can understand and believe that if we tell them something, we’re explaining it to them in a way that it relates to them,” she said.

The paper has become a staple in homes across Kansas.

“My mom and my dad used to read The Community Voice all the time,” Natania Watie said.

Years later, Watie now works for The Community Voice as both a writer and marketing coordinator.

“It was important to me to be a part of it because we cover Black news in Kansas. It’s unheard of,” she said.

Its audience continues to grow with the paper, which is now available online. It has become the second largest non-daily outlet in the state.

The writers tackle difficult issues like the coronavirus pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests and politics. The Community Voice recently launched a new initiative for stories on criminal justice reform.

“It just continues to grow during this time because it’s just so much more important to so many things going on and we provide that trusted source of information,” Gooch said.

The Community Voice has two full-time reporters focused on the Black community, but the paper offers something to all readers.

“They can open up their world view. It’s important to be able to understand another person’s walk in life other than your own,” Watie said.

After decades of serving the community, its team is ready for more.

“We’ve got to do more. As long as we’re disproportionately impacted and on the bad end of so many social issues, We can’t let up. We’ve got to keep working to see how we can positively impact our community,” Gooch said.

The Community Voice publishes new issues every two weeks.

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