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Friday Activities and Election Results

Friday, August 3, 2018   (0 Comments)
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How can NABJ Further Activate King’s legacy?


By Darren A. Nichols

Several high-profile figures highlighted Friday's NABJ Convention plenary session dealing with how to move forward Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy of social justice.

The session, which started at 4:30 p.m., featured prominent attorney Benjamin Crump, journalist/social activist Shaun King and the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, Stacey Abrams.

Crump, who represented Trayvon Martin's family in the nationally-watched case, said Dr. King's “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is just as relevant now as it was when it was written in 1963.  

“Dr. King is speaking to all of us, especially the educated people,” Crump said. “He's talking to the lawyers, judges, politicians, and so with my platform [that] I'm blessed with as an attorney, I'm just opposing injustice when I see it.

“And you all as journalists, if you see the injustice, you must use your professionalism and your blessings that God gave you to oppose injustice. We all must speak truth to power.”

With this year commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report and King's assassination, Friday's session will address the new generation of journalists and media professionals and how they seek to navigate through the current climate dealing with social justice.

Civil rights leaders compared the past and present, while dealing with King's message of hope, equity and unity..

The panel also included Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley; Dominique Alexander, founder of the Next Generation Action Network; author Charlene Carruthers; MSNBC reporter Trymaine Lee and professor and author Michael Eric Dyson.

“We have to decide if we are going to be secretaries or journalists,” said Riley. “We have to get our own facts and not buy into a reality show culture in our country.”

“Today it is … so important that we continue to address concerns and be spokespersons for the voices of those who feel voiceless and powerless and disenfranchised,” said Ruby Bailey, executive editor of the Columbia Missourian. “That mission hasn’t changed. Part of the issue is that we also still need to increase all kinds of diversity: racial, economic diversity, religious, all types of diversity within our new zones from the top all the way down.”

Bailey, who also serves as the Missouri Community Newspaper Management Chair, added that solutions need to be made to help people navigate the media better.

“What I would like to hear is ways that the media can empower its community to affect change, ways to engage with the media that will be helpful and beneficial to us, to them, and to the people whom they are trying reach and spread their issue, their message.”

Alexander of Next Generation Action Network said that when describing the complexity of Dr. King’s legacy, people are conditioned to think only about his dream.

“I'm more concerned about the nightmare Dr. King had,” Alexander said. “Because I've seen the statistics and facts that show that the nightmare is more consistent with America now than that actual dream. They didn’t kill Dr. King because of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. They killed [him] because he started correcting that stuff he saw in that nightmare.”

Alexander said it's up to us to keep the legacy of Dr. King alive, pointing to his organization’s successful shutdown of the parade in Arlington where Gov. Greg Abbott was set to be the honorary grand marshal. 

“We just couldn’t have that,” Alexander said. “What we have to do is take responsibility and articulate this man’s legacy. We can’t allow other people to describe or articulate the legacy of a man that was much more than just a dream.” 

Wendi Thomas founded MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit reporting project leading up to the 50th anniversary of King’s death. The initiative focused on covering economic justice issues such as jobs and wages, power and wealth, and black businesses in Memphis.

“King came to Memphis for the most marginalized, the most disenfranchised, so our mirror and our focus was the same,” said Thomas, a former assistant managing editor and columnist at the Commercial Appeal. “It was also intentional to hire a team of contributors that were like the community we were writing about. Half were women and half were people of color. It was super-intentional.”

Thomas’ project tackled several issues, but gained its most significant impact in improving pay for workers.

Memphis is the poorest large metropolitan area in the nation. Shelby County’s racial income gap has remained steady since the federal government started keeping records in 1980: Black households earn 50 percent of what white households do, according to the MLK project.

The project developed a pay survey that it sent out to 25 of the largest employers in Memphis. While more than a third refused to answer the survey, it found they were not paying employees enough to live on. After it appeared, the City of Memphis, Shelby County Schools and Blue Cross/Blue Shield announced plans to raise pay for their lowest-earning workers to at least $15 per hour.

“At least in part because of the work my team did, there are people in Memphis today who are making more than they were four months ago. That’s the kind of thing I hope King would be proud of,” Thomas said.

That's how the media can use its power, a message Crump intends to express Friday.

“I want to leave the message with them that neutrality in the face of injustice is injustice in itself,” Crump said. “For every Trayvon Martin, I've said that there are a hundred unknown Trayvon Martins where I would want [NABJ members] to tell all about.  

“You have the power that nobody else has, and we gotta fight to tell our stories. Tell about our life experiences, tell about our struggles and tell about black lives do matter and we can't allow society to sweep them under the rug.”

Darren A. Nichols is a Detroit-based freelance writer. He spent more than 20 years at The Detroit News, primarily covering city hall, including the city’s financial collapse that led to the largest municipal bankruptcy in the country.

Local Reporters Discuss Their Love for Detroit -- and for Honest Perceptions

Local reporters gathered at the 2018 National Association of Black Journalists Convention and Career Fair to help others have more accurate perceptions of the city they love. FOX 2-WJBK sponsored the panel, “The Real Detroit,” that discussed the highs and lows of this year’s NABJ host city.

Moderated by Lesli Foster Mathewson of WUSA 9, the panel featured broadcast legend Diana Lewis, her daughter and fellow WXYZ anchor Glenda Lewis, WDIV anchor Rhonda Walker and Bridge Magazine reporter Chastity Pratt Dawsey. FOX 2 reporter Josh Landon assembled the panel and spoke as well.

Panelists spoke freely about the challenges faced by Detroiters regarding the “renaissance” the city is experiencing. “People like to say Detroit is on a comeback. Stop lying,” Pratt Dawsey said. “The average Detroiter isn’t experiencing this comeback.” She urged a recognition that the city will not experience a full comeback until job availability and the school system improve.

The panel discussed the responsibilities each of them have in reporting on the city they grew up in. Landon, who refers to himself as a boy from the block, shared with the audience the story of his cousin who was shot and robbed as he went to the store. “We have to put these stories out there because the people in the neighborhoods need to know they aren’t forgotten,” he said.

Walker, the recipient of the Angelo B. Henderson Community Service award, also talked about how using her platform prompted her to create the Rhonda Walker Foundation. “I wanted girls to feel good about themselves,” she said. The morning anchor tries to give Detroit girls the opportunity to see what they could be even if it isn’t something they see every day at home.

Foster Mathewson said that Detroit “puts the black in black power,” prompting the panel to talk about the shift in the city’s leadership, now headed by a white mayor. Diana Lewis affectionately reflected on former Mayor Coleman A. Young’s ability to connect with citizens. The working journalists also discussed covering the city’s changed leadership. “What we need in the city is people in power who are going to do right by the people; doesn’t matter if you’re black or white,” Landon said. The FOX 2 reporter said the change in leadership does lead him to question whether the new development in town could result in a repeat of the historic removal of the Black Bottom neighborhood.

In concluding, the panelists encouraged their fellow journalists to help them change Detroit’s narrative in the media. “Detroit isn’t what you read, it’s what you feel,” Glenda Lewis said. Diana Lewis urged visiting reporters to “take the spirit of Detroit” with them as they travel back to their newsrooms. “In the real Detroit we take things very personally because we are very prideful,” Pratt Dawsey said. “You haven’t seen the best yet.” 

NABJ 2018 Hall of Fame Inductees Honored 


During the 2018 National Association of Black Journalists Convention and Career Fair, the organization bestowed its highest award to five extraordinary people.

The new Hall of Fame members — Albert Dunmore, Victoria Jones, Louis Martin, William Rhoden and Bob Ray Sanders — were honored during a luncheon, hosted by media legend Donnie Simpson Friday at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center.

Additionally, several members were recognized during the event. Natasha S. Alford was honored as the Michael J. Feeney Emerging Journalist of the Year. Dr. John Watson received the Ida B. Wells Award. Everett L. Marshburn received the Journalist of Distinction recognition. The Percy Qoboza Foreign Journalist Award went to Chica Oduah.

Of the new Hall of Fame members, “this year’s inductees have all made lasting contributions to journalism. They made a significant impact in the communities they served as journalists in a time when their work wasn’t always welcomed or respected,” said NABJ President Sarah Glover. “But they persevered and their work will serve as a beacon to future generations of black journalists. I’m pleased to see such a deserving group receive NABJ’s highest honor.”

Albert J. Dunmore (posthumous) Dunmore came to the Michigan Chronicle in 1961 as managing editor and executive editor after 20 years at its sister publication, the Pittsburgh Courier. He arrived during turbulent times in Detroit and the nation and used his leadership position to pen columns that demanded civil rights legislation and also challenged the African-American community to commit to self-determination. He left the newspaper in 1968 to join Chrysler Corporation as its urban affairs specialist. He died in 1989.

Victoria Jones (posthumous) Jones was a pioneering and prolific television news producer in Boston. Starting in the 1970s at WGBH-TV, she worked with Topper Carew on the nationally syndicated program “Say Brother.” Jones covered four presidential elections, Nelson Mandela's visit to America and major news stories in Boston. While producing, she earned a Masters in Education with honors at Harvard University. She served as president of the Boston Association of Black Journalists from 1986 to 1988, and served as NABJ’s Region I Director from 1995 to 1999.

Louis Martin (posthumous) — Martin was only 23 years old when he arrived in Detroit to become editor and publisher of the newly minted Detroit Chronicle, which later became the Michigan Chronicle. In addition to journalism, Martin got into politics, becoming assistant publicity director of the Democratic National Committee during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s re-election campaign in 1944. He also worked on John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign, became a friend and advisor to President Lyndon Johnson, and was a senior advisor to President Jimmy Carter. Martin, called the “Godfather of Black Politics” by the Washington Post, was enshrined in the National Newspaper Publishers Association Hall of Fame in 2006.

William C. Rhoden — Rhoden started his career as an associate editor of Ebony magazine, where he worked from 1974 to 1978. He then spent three years at the Baltimore Sun as a columnist before leaving in 1981 to become a copy editor for The New York Times’ Week in Review section. He was an award-winning sports writer for the Times from 1983 to 2016. He also served as a consultant for ESPN’s “SportsCentury” series, and appeared on the long-running Emmy-winning show “The Sports Reporters.”

In 1996, Rhoden won a Peabody Award for broadcasting as the writer of the HBO documentary “Journey of the African-American Athlete.” In 2006, he published his first book, the best-seller Forty-Million-Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete. He’s currently a writer-at-large for ESPN’s “The Undefeated.”

Bob Ray Sanders — Sanders’ journalism career has spanned more than four decades across newspapers, television and radio. After graduating from North Texas State University in 1969, he was hired by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. As one of the first three African-American reporters hired by the newspaper, he became a trailblazer in North Texas journalism.

In 1972, Sanders took a reporter job at KERA-TV, moving all the way up to vice president/station manager for television and radio at the Dallas public broadcaster. He also served as host and producer of the station’s award-winning program “News Addition,” and as executive producer of the PBS series “With Ossie & Ruby.” In 1986, Sanders returned to the Star-Telegram and worked until retirement in 2015. Known as the dean of journalists in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, he is past president of the Press Club of Fort Worth.

The NABJ Hall of Fame was created in 1990 when 10 distinguished journalists became its charter members. 


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