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News & Press: Member Spotlight

Djibril Diallo Connect Black Journalists, Leaders to Historic Celebration

Tuesday, December 14, 2010   (0 Comments)
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NEW YORK, Dec. 7, 2010  –  Dr.  Djibril Diallo, co-chairman of the NABJ World Affairs Task Force, and other NABJ members will participate in an unprecedented gathering of black artists, writers, filmmakers, academics, scientists, and other leaders in Africa for an historic celebration.  The World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures, under the auspices of President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and his fellow African leaders, begins Friday, Dec. 10 in Dakar, Senegal, and continues through Dec. 31.

For only the third time in 50 years, a high-powered U.S. delegation of more than 200 African-American leaders will attend the Festival, including groups from the National Conference of Black Mayors, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education.  In all, thousands of delegates from 80 countries will converge on Dakar. Previous gatherings were held 1966 in Dakar and 1977 in Nigeria.

Diallo, Coordinator of the U.S. Committee for the World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures and Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS), said the size and depth of the delegation underscore the historic nature of the Festival.

 "The Festival will be a landmark event, bringing together great artists and intellectuals from around the world to celebrate the theme of African Renaissance,” said Diallo. "The Festival will also be an important opportunity to highlight the role of art and culture in promoting development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, including progress in reversing the AIDS epidemic.”

The Senegal excursion is part of NABJ’s strategy of connecting black journalists with journalists of color round the world, Diallo said. "This initiative was started over three decades ago following a meeting in 1984 with then NABJ President Merv Aubespin, and a group of 14 journalists went to cover the drought in Africa. After that NABJ formed an Africa Task Force to look at how to ensure more balanced and frequent coverage of Africa, and to better expose its members to development issues in African nations. NABJ  members have had access to development professionals with expertise in a variety of areas, from poverty to HIV/AIDS to conflict prevention.

Diallo was appointed co-chair along with the late Marcia Slacum Greene of the Washington Post. The Task Force has led to increased participation of African-Americans in United Nations' organized traveling seminars for journalists, he said.

Since 1987, he has helped more than 100 black journalists representing print and electronic media to travel to many African countries as well as developing nations around the world. "These trips and others like them have given unprecedented and exclusive access to African presidents and prime ministers as well as to ordinary Africans.”

Since the Task Force was formed, Diallo said, "Progress has been seen in saving lives of people with HIV/AIDS, prevention, caring for those infected, and treatment. The African-American community is one of the hardest hit by HIV/AIDS in the United States.  To have NABJ members give visibility to HIV/AIDS from the Mississippi Delta all the way to Timbuktu in Mali is something the task force has tackled head-on and with success.”

Other NABJ members in the delegation led by Diallo are: Vice President-Print Deirdre M. Childress, Photojournalist Kimberly P. Mitchell and Columnist Rochelle Riley, both of the Detroit Free Press, Ebony Senior Editor Adrienne Samuels Gibbs, Curtis Simmons, representing the Amsterdam News and the National Newspaper Publishers Association, and Miami Herald World Editor John Yearwood, co-chairman of the NABJ World Affairs Task Force.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank Djibril and John for offering NABJ members a chance to expand their journalistic experiences,” Childress said. "They have been leaders in this area of our strategic goal of staying connected globally.”

The trip will build on the work of President Kathy Times and other NABJ leaders during previous visits to Senegal and elsewhere in Africa. A roundtable will be held with Babacar Diagne, director-general of Senegalese Radio and Television, and other journalists who will discuss how NABJ could work with African media to foster opportunities on the continent for the organization's members.

Among U.S. delegates are Dr. Julius Garvey, son of Marcus Garvey; actor Richard Gant; jazz legend Randy Weston; Professor  James Turner, Cornell University;  Dr. Johnetta Cole, Director of the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution; Professor Leonard Jeffries, City University of New York;  Runoko Rashidi, noted historian;  Mississippi State Sen. Hillman Frazier; New York State Sen. Bill Perkins;  Columbus (Ohio) Mayor Michael B. Coleman; Wayne Watson, president, Chicago State University;  and Ron Himes, founder/director, The Saint Louis Black Repertory Theater.

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