August 5, 2013
NABJ Elects a New President Hot off the presses: The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) elected Vice President of Broadcast Bob Butler as the 20th president of the association. Butler is an award-winning multimedia journalist at KCBS radio in San Francisco, CA. He will officiate when the NABJ Convention comes to Boston next year from July 30 – August 4, 2014.
Journalists from Boston attending the conference include Akilah Johnson, Meghan Irons, Derrick Jackson, Gary Washburn and Wesley Lowery all from the Boston Globe, Rhondella Richardson from Channel 5 and Callie Crossley from WGBH.
The Boston contingent also includes Carole Copeland Thomas, author, speaker and diversity trainer and Michelle Johnson, an associate professor at Boston University. She received an award from NABJ for her decades of work teaching and mentoring students.
I also connected with Robin Washington, a brand new grandfather of fraternal twins. Robin once worked at the Boston Herald and is now editor at the Duluth News Tribune in Minnesota.
And what a pleasure to run into Toni Randolph who left WBUR radio several years ago to work at MPR in Minnesota where she is now editor for new audiences.
NABJ conventions always preview what’s next and among this year’s up and coming are: -the summer launch of Aljazeera America on cable companies including Comcast here in Massachusetts;
-the October 1st launch of the open enrollment period for health insurance to cover millions of uninsured Americans under the Affordable Health Care Act; and
-on the arts and cultural front, a special NABJ advance screening of the Lee Daniels’ film “The Butler” which opens nationwide on August 16th. Congrats to Wil Haygood, formerly of the Boston Globe, who penned the screenplay and was in the house.
So much to experience….so little time. For more, visit NABJ.ORG
Going Off the Beaten NABJ Track to Pay My Respects to Zora If you love Zora Neale Hurston, the acclaimed author of the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, you will understand why I took a break from the NABJ Convention and rented a car to head about 40 minutes up the road to explore Eatonville, the town that Zora made famous in her remarkable book.
Eatonville is Zora’s hometown – and the oldest Black Municipality in the United States dating back to 1887. The first incorporated African American community in America, it’s a proud place that defines itself as the “town that freedom built.” Eatonville’s Historic District has been named to the National Register of Historic Places. Florida has installed a heritage trail there to help the public better understand and appreciate Eatonville’s place in American history.
On the heritage trail, I drove under the town gateway onto the main drag, Kennedy Street, where the people at the Kinfolks Soul Food Restaurant fed me a hearty Southern breakfast of cheese grits, scrambled eggs, smoked turkey sausage and sweet tea –with a few slices of pound cake thrown in for good measure.
Fortified for the hot midday sun, I headed just up the street of this sleepy town to Zora Neale Hurston Square where you will find the Town Hall, the local library and the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts. It’s a small space that packs a punch. At the museum, ironically, I discovered the compelling multi-media installation, “Question Bridge,” which explores the contemporary challenges facing African American men. (http://questionbridge.com/Website.html) The exhibit is designed to spark dialogue through custom social media, video conversations, a web site and high school curriculum – so timely in light of what is going on in the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy.
N.Y. Nathari, the museum director, greeted me warmly and said she wished that NABJ had connected to arrange a side trip for convention attendees who wanted to make the cultural pilgrimage to Eatonville. But she noted that somehow whenever a convention comes to town there are always a few adventurous souls like me who make the short trip to Eatonville. (The NABJ does give Eatonville and Zora a shout out in the 2013 convention book.)
Zora! Silver Anniversary Festival
There is still time to get there for a special celebration: Zora! Silver Anniversary Festival
takes place in Eatonville from January 25-February 2, 2014. Since 1990, Zora! Festival has presented annually some of the most distinguished members of the American cultural community including Dr. Maya Angelou, Amira Baraka, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Danny Glover, Alice Walker, and Cicely Tyson.
So save the date for Zora! For updates, visit: www.zorafestival.org
The Kinsey Collection: Rediscovering America Through Family Treasures I hit the road again and headed to the American Adventure Pavilion at Disney’s Epcot Theme Park (Epcot: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). I waded through the heat and walked past the American Revolution drum and bugle corp (After all, nobody does American History like Boston). Inside the pavilion’s American Heritage Gallery, I experienced the powerful national touring exhibit, “Re-Discovering America: Treasures from the Kinsey Collection.”
This enlightening installation takes us through 400 years of African American achievement, contribution and resilience thanks to the Kinsey family: Bernard, Shirley and their son Khalil. They have collected a treasure trove of rare art, documents, books and artifacts called The Kinsey Collection. The installation weaves a powerful emotional tapestry using quintessential American themes of hope, courage, belief, imagination and heritage to tell the story of Black people in America.
NABJ 2013 featured a presentation by the Kinseys and a visit to the exhibit itself at Epcot. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/epcot/american-heritage-gallery/
Kudos! Back at the Convention Saturday night gala, several Boston Globe journalists – present and past – were honored. Kudos to columnist Derrick Jackson, and reporters Meghan Irons and Akilah Johnson who all received awards for journalistic excellence. Greg Moore, formerly of the Boston Globe and current Editor-in-Chief of the Denver Post received a lifetime achievement award, which upon receiving he joked that some were saying he was too young to receive the award. It’s well deserved as those who are familiar with Greg’s work over the past decades know all too well. He noted the changes in the field which today can mean that more Black journalists are at the table and now have the power to bring other journalists to the table. Congrats also go out to Boston University’s Michelle Johnson who was recognized on Saturday and throughout the week for excellence in teaching and mentoring.
Let’s not forget Roland Martin, the host of TV One’s “Washington Week with Roland Martin” and a contributor to CNN. Martin was recognized as journalist of the year. He challenged journalists to continue to ‘fight, fight, fight” for their voices to be heard - in the spirit of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Ethics Among the panel highlights was an insightful discussion on ethics in the field of journalism at a moment in time when some journalists - and those who just act like they are – think breaking the story first is more important than getting it right. Items covered included the Marathon Bombing, the crash of the Asiana Airlines crash and Trayvon Martin coverage. Representing Boston in the discussion were Callie Crossley of WGBH and Wesley Lowery of the Boston Globe. The takeaway: Ethics must be considered –especially when sourcing information under deadline pressure. Telling the story correctly and accurately is more important than just being the first to break the story. For more information on the practice of ethical journalism go to the Poynter Institute website, http://www.poynter.org.
NABJ Boston 2014 Party Excitement is already building as Boston looks forward to hosting NABJ next year. Thanks to all of the folks who stuck on their lobster pins attended the post gala dessert party hosted by the Greater Boston Convention & Visitor’s Bureau in collaboration with the Boston Association of Black Journalists (BABJ). Thanks also to BABJ President Gary Washburn who provided custom “Boston Strong” tee shirts to some lucky party goers. For updates, visit the Boston Association of Black Journalists Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/113906508771525/
And be sure to check out the web page for the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Multicultural Committee at: http://www.bostonusa.com/multiculturalcommittee/
NABJ 2014 in Boston Save the Date: July 30-August 3,2014 (http://www.nabj.org/news/99720/) NABJ 2013 sponsors included a broad range of organizations, for-profits and non-profits, media organizations, government and business. If you are interested in participating in or sponsoring next year’s event, see the sample sponsor’s package for 2013 at http://sponsorship.nabj.org or contact me for help with planning an NABJ 2014 Boston convention strategy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let the countdown to NABJ Boston 2014 begin!