Pride Magazine, which covers the achievements of African-Americans and people of color in Charlotte, started as a publication of The Charlotte Observer 25 years ago. Today, it is a minority-owned independent business that has been run by CEO and Publisher Dee Dixon for the past 16 years.
The Observer talked with Dixon about the magazine’s evolution as it prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary next month at its annual Pride Awards ceremony.
Q: How has Pride Magazine changed since its inception?
A: At first we were part of the Observer, a big corporation. The first publisher of the magazine was an African-American gentleman named Vintage Foster. I was in sales there selling advertising. At one point he moved on and I ran the magazine at The Charlotte Observer; that was part of the evolution. There was a critical point in which I was given the opportunity to purchase the magazine in 2001 and I became the sole owner of a magazine in the Charlotte community. It was a very frightening prospect for me at the time. But we have had continuous support and it’s been challenging in many ways.
Q: Can you describe the role of Pride Magazine in the community?
A: Pride Magazine gives voice to African-Americans and other people of color in ways that no other media can do or have done. We focus on achievement in the African-American community, we highlight heroes and she-roes and people who are very important and people who are not. This is something that cannot be done, I think, in any other mediums, such as radio and the newspaper, because we tell a story and we tell it in a way that no one else can.
Q: How has Charlotte’s African-American community changed in the past 25 years?
A: I can say that Charlotte’s African-American community has changed in terms of growth and achievement. We have had so many African-Americans migrating back to Charlotte; Charlotte is a hot place and a hot market. With that we have been fortunate enough to have so many talented, intelligent, accomplished African-Americans move back here, so that gives us plenty to write about.
Q: How has Pride Magazine responded to Charlotte’s low level of economic mobility?
A: In addition to honoring achievement in the African-American community, we have donated funds to worthy nonprofits who help people who are in need. We have been aware of that and we have done that since the inception. Unfortunately, it did take a national study to really bring the problem of social mobility to the forefront of the minds of our leaders here to get something done about it. ... Everybody in Charlotte needs to step up, including our magazine and people in organizations. ... Primarily these people are people of color, African-Americans, Latinos – we really want to keep them from falling by the wayside, so we have a lot of work to do.
Q: How has Pride Magazine adjusted to changes in how Charlotte uses and accesses its media?
A: We’ve updated our website, we have social media, we’re on Facebook, Twitter and all of that. But research still shows that African-Americans, people of color, still read magazines. I don’t think print is dead, but I think print has to evolve to include a lot of the digital aspects of media. We’re doing that, but we still have our foot firmly implanted in print here in Charlotte. ... I think it’s important for a print media to remain in Charlotte for as long as possible so we can help get the message out.
Q: What do you see in Pride Magazine’s future?
A: I tend to take things day by day. Pride is actually a family business. Two of my children work for me now. I had another son who worked for me for several years. It’s a family business, so you never really know what’s going to happen in the future, but we will be here as long as we can, as long as we can survive as a small business and continue to make meaningful contributions to Charlotte.
Caroline Metzler: 704-231-5316, @crmetzler
About the celebration
The 2018 Pride Awards, “Cheers to 25 Years,” and will be a day bash/luncheon, Jan. 26 at The Westin Charlotte. It will honor the Pride Entrepreneur Education Program.