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NABJ Honors Dr. Shelley Stewart with 2013 Community Service Award

Friday, April 12, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tiane Johnson
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 12, 2013) – The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is proud to announce that Dr. Shelley Stewart is the recipient of the association’s 2013 Community Service Award. Dr. Stewart is a broadcast journalist, President and CEO of O2Ideas, and founder of The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation.

 

Dr. Stewart will be honored this summer at NABJ's 38th Annual Convention and Career Fair in Orlando, FL, during the Salute to Excellence Awards Gala on Saturday, Aug. 3. The gala recognizes journalists who best cover the black experience and/or address issues affecting the worldwide black community.

He spent the early part of his career as a widely recognized broadcast journalist, using the profession to become an agent of change. During the 1960’s, under the moniker "Shelley the Playboy” DJ, Dr. Stewart used his voice in the media to broadcast coded messages to Birmingham, Alabama’s black listeners  and provided information about civil rights protests, meetings and other events.

Eventually, Dr. Stewart was able to purchase a radio station and co-found a marketing and advertising firm, called O2Ideas, one of the largest minority-owned marketing and advertising firms in the country.

Losing a brother serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole was the impetus for the creation of the documentary "InsideOuT,” which was launched simultaneously in 2007 with the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation. The documentary came about as a result of Stewart’s prison visits with his late brother. "InsideOut” is a 26-minute documentary that reveals the stories of lifers, in their own words, and exposes the lasting and devastating effects that can occur when one drops out of school. Community leaders, parents, and educators in 47 states and Canada have had the experience of viewing the documentary.

"Dr. Stewart’s work has had a positive impact on the students and their communities. Students who go through the program say they didn’t realize how harsh life is in prison and how the odds of going there dramatically increase without an education,” said NABJ President Gregory Lee Jr. "NABJ is proud to salute Dr. Stewart for using his platform to reduce the dropout rate, increase the graduation rate, and give hope and a sense of purpose to our children.”

Tens of thousands of children have viewed the documentary video produced by his organization The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation. The video features prisoners candidly talking about life behind bars. The prisoners say they now realize their lives would have turned out differently had they continued their education.

The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation offers other unique programming which has impacted the lives of more than two million students in 19 states. 

"He sees his life story as a testament to the power of an education,” says Corlette Stewart, Shelley’s daughter. "He has committed himself to saving as many children as possible from ruining their lives. He stresses the importance of education, so that the young people who cross his path won’t fall into a life of drugs and crime. If we just save one child, we’re making progress.”


At age 78, Dr. Stewart shows no signs of slowing down. He does at least 30 speaking engagements each year and is known to make pro bono appearances on occasion. Dr. Stewart remains steadfast in his commitment to his public affairs roots. Currently, Dr. Stewart is the host of quarterly town hall meetings entitled "Birmingham Kitchen Table Discussions.” The discussions are designed to bridge gaps and improve cultural and race relations in Birmingham.

 

An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization for journalists of color in the nation, and provides career development as well as educational and other support to its members worldwide. For more information, please visit www.nabj.org.

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