Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

'80S View: Gaining Exposure in Diverse's Beginning

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

'80S View: Gaining Exposure in Diverse's Beginning

Article excerpt

I met Frank Matthews and Bill Cox at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in New York City in 1989. When we met, I was a reporter with the New Haven Register, where I'd been covering politics, zoning issues and education on the suburban beat. I remember being inspired as they told me about Black Issues and their vision for the then-fledgling publication. When I returned to New Haven, I quickly pulled together my best clips (yes, they were literally "clips" at that time) and eagerly applied for a writing position.

As a young journalist, I was thrilled to land a job with Black Issues. Even with only a few years of reporting under my belt and only two newspaper gigs up to that point, I had already seen how biased the newspaper industry could be. Stories about people of color fell broadly into one of two piles: We were either the victims or the culprits--if we were seen at all. Unfortunately, bias was so endemic in the industry that I was becoming a bit cynical. Very few city or suburban editors were Black or Latino. That often meant that certain stories and institutions were as invisible as the protagonist in Ralph Ellison's classic novel.

So having the opportunity to research, analyze and write about issues in higher education that pertained to African-Americans and other people of color was paradise. Interviewing people such as anthropologist Michael Blakey; Manning Marable, a scholar of African-American studies who died in 2011; Frank M. Snowden Jr., a scholar of Blacks in the ancient world, who passed away in 2007; Julianne Malveaux, an economist and former president of Bennett College; Johnnetta B. Cole, president emeritus of Spelman College; and the late, great John Hope Franklin, was an incomparable experience for me. I was in my twenties, young enough to be star-struck and thrilled that these brilliant people would deign to talk to the likes of me. But all I had to do was let them know I was calling from Black Issues, and they would somehow find a way to fit me into their solidly booked schedules. I remember being intimidated and nervous, often spending hours reading everything I could get my hands on to prepare for a 20-minute interview. …

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