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#MLK50 Bonus Essay - NABJ Executive Director Sharon Toomer
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Sharon Toomer, NABJ Executive Director

NABJ Member



I was three-years-old when Rev. Dr. Martin L. King Jr. was assassinated. Like many in my generation, I learned about Dr. King in school and at home. In my adult life, I’ve taken the time to learn more about Dr. King’s vision and struggles in the fight for humanity, particularly as I experience and observe the economic, social, political and cultural atrocities and injustices happening in my lifetime.

Like activists, journalists begin their journey with an inherent or unforeseen call to fight the good fight by challenging, holding accountable and speaking truth to powerful systems and institutions. Arguably there are some exceptions for motivation, but fundamentally we are drawn to journalism by a sense of doing good for community and the greater world. Love for humanity and community; and an intense desire to raise awareness in hopes of changing conditions are driving forces behind journalists, and particularly Black journalists.

Dr. King’s loyalty to humankind and the never-ending quest for equality and justice are legacies that inspire the sum total of my career path and personal journey – whether I am in a traditional newsroom setting; writing an essay on an injustice; or serving a nonprofit’s mission.

I owe my life’s work as a journalist, communicator, socially conscious entrepreneur and public servant to my ancestors, to hundreds of thousands of unknown warriors for humanity, and to the legacy of Dr. Martin L. King Jr.

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