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The Importance of Black Journalist in American Society

Journalism is how we receive our news. Whether it's from a newspaper, social media or online publications, journalism is how we learn about the world around us. While the world of journalism is supposed to include all, many times it leaves out minorities. African-American’s stories are often left out of mass media simply because of the prejudice and racism that still exist in this country. Without journalists such as Ida B. Wells, Gwen Ifell, Gordon Parks and most recently, Nikole Hannah Jones, our stories would be left out of history.  

Without Ida B. Wells, many would have not known about the harsh practices against African-Americans in the south. In the 1890’s she led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States and published a variety of articles about what it truly felt like to be Black in America. Books that she wrote such as Southern Horrors educated many Americans on high rates of lynching in the United States, which is somehting that the media was ignoring at the time. 

Gordon Parks helped to photo-document issues in the African-American community such as civil rights and poverty. He used his passion for photography to educate Americans on subjects that the news normally shied away from. Gordon Parks stated for Life magazine, “I chose my camera as a weapon against all the things I dislike about America—poverty, racism, discrimination.” 

Nikole Hannah Jones' work with the New York Times has been monumental in documenting the history of African-Americans in America. The Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter recently created a project titled 1619. This magazine documents not only the beginning of slavery, but it is filled with essays, photo-essays, poems about articles regarding the struggles and tripahms that African-Americans on a daily basis. This project has gained a lot of publicity because of the beautiful yet upfront way that the stories of struggle and perseverance are presented. 

During this political climate, African-American journalists have been the ones to help push the narrative of how the Black community truly feels. Organizations such as BlackLivesMatter and Warriors in the Garden are speaking about their experiences during the recent protest, but the media has attempted to change the perception of what they're doing. Without the use of Black journalists on social media outlets such as Twitter, we as a society might have never known about Ahmed Arbury, Brianna Taylor, Tony Mcdade, etc. 

African-American journalists have put their careers and lives on the line to discover and report on the truth. During May at a protest in Minneapolis, some might recall that CNN reporter Omar Jimenez  reporting on what was going on in the scene behind him when he was arrested while on air. In an interview with CNN, he explained how although his mother and grandmother who were watching when this occurred were scared, they were also very proud. “Jimenez said his grandmother told him that she was arrested during the civil rights movement as a protester. She looked at me, almost saying it as a badge of honor, for sticking up for and standing your ground," he said.

African-American journalists have helped to educate our country on what is truly going on in our communities. Without the dedication and perseverance that they possess, our truth might not be told and our stories would be forgotten and erased.  

Gabrielle Chenault is a senior journalism major with a concentration in political science from Queens, New York. She is a member of the cross country and track team. She also is the Lifestyle section editor of The Hampton Script, the parliamentarian of North P.A.C and a resident assistant. In her free time, Gabrielle loves to listen to music, travel and try new food from around the world.
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