Originally from Kanawha County, West Virginia, Crystal Good took many twists and turns in life.
As a young girl, Good found a love for writing during her first poem about how we will all shed a colorless tear.
At the age of 12, her modeling career with brands like Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein taught her about entrepreneurship and money management.
Over the years, Good has been an entrepreneur, a marketer, a model, a recognized poet, a performing artist, a filmmaker, an author, a West Virginia University alumna, a mom, and an advocate, but she admits everything has lead her to where she is now.
Today, Good is the publisher of Black by God (BBG) The West Virginian.
“When I look back at all of the things I’ve done, I can see the common thread to what I am doing now,” said Good. “At sixteen years old, I had ambitions and dreams to buy the last Black newspaper, the Beacon Digest, when I was in high school. I really held onto that dream and as life would have it, I saw the opportunity to create a newspaper for Black West Virginians.”
Good put her creativity and energy into Black by God in 2020 – during the pandemic and America’s cry out for the racial unrest of the country.
The response? Overwhelming support.
“I’m a storyteller at heart, and I believe I built an audience and built trust over the years after being a grassroots lobbyist at the Capitol,” she said. “That’s where I learned that when people get good information and a clear call to action, they will take the necessary steps to help their community.”
Good was able to take a lot of that trust and those followers into Black by God.
She also enrolled in NewStart, which is a WVU Reed College Media program in partnership with the West Virginia Press Association that aims to recruit, train and support the next generation of community newspaper owners and publishers across the country.
She applied, was accepted, and was a part of the first NewStart class to graduate in Fall 2020.
“Even though I have done many different things in my life, they were things I had built a confidence in doing,” said Good. “This newspaper idea was really making me vulnerable and I had to trust my instinct – I know when something feels right.”
“In 2020, even during a global pandemic and having never stepped in a newsroom, I started Black by God,” she said.
What started as a newsletter is now a printed piece.
Although more than 90 percent of West Virginia is White, Good trusted her intuition to run a Black newspaper in this Wild and Wonderful State.
And while Good has a lot of help, she is a one woman show behind the paper. But, like any entrepreneur, Good is learning how to ask for help.
“I am learning the things that I don’t know how to do and if I don’t know how to do them, I am learning how to ask better questions so that I can find the people to help me,” said Good.
Good may be building her empire, but she’s building it for everyone.
“I have the luxury of building something that is very community based,” she said. “The more that I engage with my readers, the people supporting Black by God, the more they feel invested in helping me create awareness.
I know that when I print this paper, someone in Beckley or Wheeling or Huntington will help me distribute them because I can go on social media and ask for help and eventually someone who knows someone, who knows someone, will take a couple stacks of papers to give out and that’s how I am getting started.”
Some call it luck. Good calls it social entrepreneurship.
Others may call it a win-win situation.
In fact, Good recently won a new TV game show called You Bet Your Life, hosted by Jay Leno, and she plans to invest her earnings into Black by God.
“Black by God is something of my contribution to the expatriates of West Virginia so that they can look in at home because everybody likes to look in at home,” Good said. “You’ll find people that take subscriptions to the hometown newspapers because you can only get so much from Facebook or Twitter. I have watched the expatriates over the years wish they could create the opportunities they have in Charlotte or Los Angeles here in West Virginia, and that’s why I am very intentional about how I can center joy in Black by God.”
However, the joy she is sharing with West Virginia and its people is just the start.
Good has several other creative ideas in mind, too, such as producing a documentary series, and possibly writing and publishing another book.
“I like to tell stories, I like to tell West Virginia stories, and I like to tell Black West Virginia stories, and people like to share in that,” she said.
In the future, Good hopes that Black by God becomes a community run project with many multiple products such as a magazine, a website, a YouTube channel, individual city newsletters and much more.
“No newsroom should be run by one person,” she said. “You should have diversity in that space. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Black by God is going to be more than a newspaper.”
CONTACT: Shelby Hudnall
WVU John Chambers College of Business and Economics, Strategic Communications