Honoring Our Black Community in Black History Month

February 5, 2021

Dear Berkeley Journalism Community,

Here’s what we’re reflecting on at Berkeley Journalism during Black History Month, and some ways you can join us in our journey toward creating a better world. 

Who is in the newsroom matters. Black voices matter.

A 2018 survey from the Pew Research Center found that 77 percent of newsroom employees are white and just 7 percent are Black

We need to see and hear from more Black journalists. Here are some ways we can promote Black journalists this month:

  • Follow, share and promote on Twitter and Facebook the NABJ Berkeley chapter’s daily posts highlighting Black journalists who have made noteworthy contributions in journalism. 

We need to support each other.
We have extraordinary excellence among us. Learn from one another. Explore and elevate Black identity and the African diaspora.

  • Students should seize the opportunity to be active participants in the new spring courses offered by Angel Jennings, Marc Lacey, Otis Taylor Jr. and Dana Amihere. Learn from these incredible Black journalists and the guests they plan to bring to class, including Nikole Hannah-Jones and Dean Baquet.
  • Even at a public institution like Berkeley, graduate school is expensive. We are committed to changing the face of journalism by removing financial barriers for first-generation and BIPOC students. Watch alum Bill Whitaker, (‘78) the “60 Minutes” correspondent, talk about his partnership with us to fundraise for scholarships for first-generation students. Donate to the scholarship fund and/or the emergency fund for students.
  • Read Prof. Bill Drummond’s recent book – ‘Prison Truth,’ which takes readers inside San Quentin’s inmate-run newspaper, and alum and Advisory Board member Mark Luckie’s (‘07) latest novel, ‘Valley Girls,’ about the challenges one woman confronts trying to do her job in corporate communications at a social media app.
  • Celebrate Immersive Visual Journalist | Photographer | Filmmaker | Composer Angélica Ekeke (’20), who performed at the Sundance Film Festival and headlined the Amazon Studios Producer Awards on January 30th. 
  • Know the work of groundbreaking filmmaker/alumnus/Prof. Marlon T. Riggs (1957-1994). He continues to inform and inspire students in the documentary film program he both studied in, and played a key role in elevating.
  • Honor the work of alum Pete Nicks (’99) whose new documentary “Homeroom,” completes the Emmy Award-winning shooter/director’s trilogy of films exploring the interconnected narratives of health care, criminal justice and education in Oakland, CA. The film premiered at Sundance 2021 and won the top award for documentary film editing.
  • Keep an eye out for a special speaker panel at the end of the month through our Race & Journalism series.

Make a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and self-critique.

“We are never finished—we never arrive at a point where we are done learning; therefore, we must be humble and flexible, bold enough to look at ourselves critically and desire to learn more. When we do not know something, are we able to say that we do not know?” (Waters, A. & Asbill, L, 2013

Let’s decide that we are willing to look at ourselves critically–and continue to learn–not only during Black History Month but for the rest of our lives. That we are committed to supporting our most disenfranchised community members, knowing that in doing so, we create space for all of us to hear and learn from diverse thoughts, backgrounds and experiences. We can change the face of journalism through our commitment to elevate Black voices, engage in lifelong learning and critical self-reflection, and support one another along the way.

With deep commitment to our journey together in self-reflection and action,

Geeta Anand
Dean and Professor
Robert A. Peck Chair

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