AABJ volunteers trade experiences with seniors at AG Rhodes Health and Rehab
By Breanna Durham
Members of Atlanta Association of Black Journalist (AABJ) gathered to spend time with senior citizens Sept. 21 for a volunteer event at the Atlanta branch of AG Rhodes Health and Rehab, a nursing home.
For two hours, the seven volunteers played games and heard about the lives and opinions of the seniors while sharing their own experiences and answering some of the residents’ questions. Typically, AABJ holds four volunteer events per year. After the nursing home visit, the chapter plans to hold one more volunteer event this year.
Barbara McDew, AG’s activities assistant, has worked with senior citizens for the past 30 years and spoke about the impact the seniors had on her and the potential impact they can have on others. Seniors, she said, have experienced life in ways she wouldn’t have ever imagined and hold interesting stories. By working with them, McDew learned things that would equip her for life.
“They taught me how to live and how to be a lady,” she said.
Helene Mills, a 94-year-old resident of the center, told the volunteers about her life and her advocacy. Mills has worked as a community advocate for Atlanta’s Fourth Ward and for senior citizens for years.
“I’m still working as an advocate for senior citizens right here,” she said. “I’m now a (National) Silver Haired Congress person who — when I was able — went to congress to advocate for various items in regards to senior citizens … That’s something I’m proud of.”
Jasimine Murray, who joined AABJ two months ago, said she volunteered due to her past experiences and her love of seniors. Because of her close relationship with her great grandmother, she said she has volunteered at her great grandmother’s senior citizens home.
“Anytime I can do something with the seniors, I do it,” Murray said. “I always think that there’s so many hidden stories here … I think that you can have all the books, but I think the best truths and stories come from people.”
Joy Woodson, the AABJ committee chairperson for community relations, said she chose the center in hopes of exposing the public to reporters.
“We [as AABJ members] thinks it’s important for people to see journalists as people and not just as people you see on the news who are telling a story and the only time they want to know you is when you’re having a bad day,” she said.
In addition, Woodson said she picked the center due to her belief that it’s important for black residents to see reporters that look like them serving the public. A large portion of the residents that came out for the volunteer event were black. Woodson described the group as lively and said she saw a lot of smiles.
“I think part of that is an outside group coming in,” she said. “It’s a help to the community. You’re helping expand the knowledge of whoever you’re helping.”
At this volunteer event, Woodson said that enough people did not come out, but she expressed hope for more to come out for the winter volunteer event. Over the course of a reporter’s career, Woodson pointed out the graciousness people have shown by sharing their stories with reporters and answering their questions. Besides returning that act of grace to the community, Woodson centered service as a pillar of the journalism profession.
“That’s what the core of what journalism should be about,” she said. “It’s a public service.”
Breanna Durham is a free lance writer.
AABJ Online Fundraiser: 43 Years Campaign
AABJ’s $43 for 43 fundraising campaign is still ongoing. In its 43rd year, we are asking members to donate $43 to go towards programming, scholarships, and events throughout the year. Be sure to invite your friends, coworkers and anyone you know who supports our members in print, communications, public relations, radio, broadcast, digital and the many trailblazers in the literary world. Be sure to share our campaign on your social media by using the hashtag #AABJ43.
You can donate here.
A Clark Atlanta student is running for state office
By Almiya White
Amber Doss-Hunter couldn’t pass up the opportunity to run for the Democratic seat in the Georgia House Representatives 65th District as a college student.
“My professor encouraged me to run on the state level instead of the federal level because there are a lot of progressive policies and initiatives that must start to happen here in Georgia, and since this is home, take care of home first,” the 33-year-old sophomore at Clark Atlanta University said.
The threat to women’s rights is what prompted Doss-Hunter to run for the state position.
“Men are controlling women’s rights, and we need more women of color at the table voicing our rights,” Doss-Hunter said.
Led by public service and public policy, Doss-Hunter spends most of her time in Clark Atlanta’s political science department, perfecting her craft in policymaking.
Before attending Clark Atlanta, Doss-Hunter spent one year at the University of Central Arkansas in 2004 studying film.
“Before I moved to Atlanta I was prepared to enroll in school. I didn’t know where I wanted to go so I was waiting to apply for colleges once I moved here,” Doss-Hunter said. She added that her family worked in film and she started working in film as well.
“I immediately started working in the field I wanted to without a college degree so going back to school seemed unnecessary,” she said.
Doss-Hunter said she was inspired by the teachings of W.E.B. Du Bois, and decided to go back to school to further her education in the fall of 2018.
“I wanted to go back to school to understand policy and legislation thoroughly. What better place to learn politics than at Clark Atlanta University? Georgia is the home of the first black woman state representative, Grace Towns Hamilton. There is no other place I should be,” Doss-Hunter said.
Doss-Hunter’s top priorities as a candidate are education, criminal justice reform and quality healthcare.
She believes Georgians “deserve transformative education programs that nurture and guide the excellence of” all children. Doss-Hunter also said she supports reform that de-criminalizes non-violent minor marijuana offenses and wants quality healthcare coverage and facilities for everyone.
“No one should be refused quality health care services because they do not have health insurance,” she said.
Students at Clark Atlanta University have shown excitement in seeing their classmate run for state office .
“I believe Amber will represent Clark Atlanta well. I am certain the institution will support her through her campaign journey,” CAU senior Alexis Grace said.
Hunter’s vision for this campaign season is to touch everyone within arm’s reach of her district.
“I never want to be a person who speaks of the issues and never tries to help those in need of solutions. I want to help bring the change my community needs,” Doss-Hunter said.
Union City, Fairburn, Chattahoochee Hills, Douglasville, Palmetto, and South Fulton are all part of District 65.
The primary voting is on May 19, 2020, followed by general elections on November 3, 2020.
Almiya White is a senior at Clark Atlanta University.
Be sure to buy the AABJ documentary “Black and Reporting”
Get your Emmy Award-Nominated copy of AABJ’s Documentary, “Black & Reporting: The Struggle Behind the Lens.”
Proceeds go to AABJ’s Xernona Clayton Scholarship Fund .
Anyone who wants to watch the entire documentary can buy it for $9.95 here.
Member Spotlight: Lisa Cox
Current position in AABJ?
How long have you been a member of AABJ?
Where did you attend college?
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism- Graduate
How long have you lived in Atlanta?
Writer/Producer, CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin
What do you like most about being a member of AABJ?
The fellowship, networking, making new friends, learning the history and impact of black journos in Atlanta, and being surrounded by fellow black journalists.
What initially got you interested in the media/communications field?
I grew up in the business so I was naturally attracted to it. My father is a broadcast journalist and professor. He used to be a top local TV news anchor in my hometown of Los Angeles and a former network radio host and correspondent. Plus — I got good grades in English and composition and writing came naturally to me.
What are your favorite publications/outlets to get your news?
LOL — ummm CNN.
But I do like GMA/WNT and watch them daily. But I also subscribe to the LAT, NYT, Time, The Atlantic, Essence, Vogue, O-The Magazine. And I religiously follow The Root, Black America Web, The Grio, Facebook and Twitter.
Is there anyone in media you look up to? Why?
Not really but there are a multitude of people I admire and respect for their accomplishments and acumen (several local news professionals, Carole Simpson, Wolf Blitzer, Byron Pitts, Bernie Shaw among them). I love Whoopi Goldberg. She’s not traditional media but I love her anyways … her spirit and conviction. She keeps it real.
What’s an interesting fact about you people wouldn’t have otherwise known?
My maternal grandmother was from Guadalajara, Mexico; I’m an excellent interior decorator; if I could have any job and money was no object I’d be a masseuse and own an herbal apothecary/fragrance shoppe.
This edition of The Byline was edited by Amir Vera