THE BLACK HISTORY ISSUE
AABJ’S BLACK HISTORY PROGRAM BRINGS INSPIRATION AND HOPE
(Pictured above from left to right Phillip Ghee, George Bryant, Angela Y. Robinson, Harold Lamar, Gwen Sommers Redwine, Myrna Taylor, Condace Pressley, Stan Washington)
By James Teague
When it comes to the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists’ (AABJ), Trailblazer Program, two words come to mind: rich history. For people to really understand what’s happening around them, they have to research the history behind it which led to our present day. Journalists are storytellers and have told many historical stories about the people, places, music, food, events, food, and culture. On Saturday February 11th, over 100 media professionals, young and old, attended the 2023 AABJ Black History Trailblazer Program at WSB-TV station in Midtown to hear about the coming-of-age story of six veteran journalists coming up in their 40–50-year careers in media. This Black history event and panel discussion was an opportunity for the veterans to help attendees connect with the past through sharing their stories and knowledge they learned from their experiences as journalists.
The panelists of this program included Harold “Hal” Lamar, Myrna Taylor, Angela Y. Robinson, George Bryant, Gwen Sommers-Redwine, and Phillip Gee. Condace Pressley was the moderator. The panel discussed various topics, including how they began their careers, being the only Black journalist in the newsroom during the post-Civil Rights Era through the 1990’s, as well as the challenges and rewards of being journalists and building a strong network amongst each other.
“The interest is the human touch. That’s very important,” said Myrna Taylor, who is an award-winning radio journalist with a career that expands over 35 years in Atlanta. “People want to know what’s going on in their communities and abroad. We really do.” Each panelist raised the importance of knowing your history, studying your craft, and how much that plays a role in how far you will go in your journalism journey. “Don’t settle for just one phase of what you do in radio or anything else. Learn every facet you do, they can’t pigeonhole you,” said Harold Lamar, who is considered by his peers to be the “Dean of Black Radio News” because of his 52 years in journalism and radio news. Phillip Gee, who is one of the leading film photographers for WAGA -TV 5 (now Fox 5 Atlanta) who launched BET for the west coast, told the audience to make sure to study their craft. “Understand what’s coming now and in the future. It’s going to come down to the facts you learn as a journalist. It’s important to understand the history in order to know where you’re going.”
Stan Washington, who is a founding member of AABJ, said he felt great that he was able to curate this Black history panel to help bridge the gap between the older and younger generation. “I’m just trying to make that connection between the present and the past. And having the young people see that some of the folks who paved the way, they’re still here to be mentors and do whatever to help,” Washington said. There was an abundance of love and support coming from the panelist and attendees, including guest appearances from other prominent members of Atlanta’s historical Black media, current and former AABJ members, and industry professionals like Joe Washington, Samuel Crenshaw, and Alexis Scott.
“Bring your own perspective,” said Gwen Sommers Redwine, one of the panelists who worked for the Southwest Georgia Enterprise and CNN. “Your perspective may be biased but it’s valid. Because you’ll see things people don’t.”
The last Black history panel AABJ hosted was in 2019 before COVID-19 began. For more information on future events or how to join AABJ, visit aabj.org.
SIX THINGS TO DO IN ATLANTA DURING BLACK HISTORY MONTH
By Tianna Faulkner
Black History Month is a month to celebrate Black heritage and history, Black innovations, and Black culture in America and globally. Our contributions to society are tremendous. Atlanta, Georgia has been at the forefront of much of that history with the Civil Rights Movement. It is important that Black history is celebrated, especially in the month of February, for the future generations to know from whence they came and for the world to know our truth and greatness. Below lists six things to do in Atlanta to celebrate Black history month.
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will be in Atlanta, Georgia February 16th through February 19th at the Fox Theater to perform for five shows. The performances will include eight dance works that will connect audiences to the heart of dance. Performances include “Survivors” and the well-known “Revelations.” These performances are led by Artistic Director Robert Battle. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit alvinailey.org.
The Clark Atlanta University Art Museum is hosting an opening reception February 15th from 4pm to 6pm to open two permanent collection exhibitions “From Black Spring to the Eternal” and “The Audacious Platform. There will also be an unveiling of the recently conserved “Art of the Negro” murals by Hale Woodruff. To reserve a space, click here.
Marietta’s Theater in the Square “The Mountain Top” is a riveting, poetic journey through Martin Luther King Jr.’s missing minutes on April 3, 1968. It’s a conversation about racism and justice and about the divergent paths of legacy, and how sometimes a great man is also human. The play is scheduled for February 17th through February 26th. For tickets, click here.
At The King Center, The Center for Non-Violence, you can learn about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including his burial site, the eternal flame, his home, exhibitions, Freedom Hall, and historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. During your visit, learn about Coretta Scott King and also get educated on non-violence and voting, experience opportunities for students and educators, attend live events, and do research. For more information, visit thekingcenter.org.
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is celebrating Black History Month. The center is hosting activities and events for the entire family during the month of February, including a conversation between the AJC’s Ernie Suggs and Ambassador Andrew Young. Visitors can also visit the Morehouse Martin Luther King Jr. Collection. Tickets are required. To register for an activity or event, click here.
Herndon Home Mansion Museum or Herndon Mansion as it is called locally, was built for one of the country’s wealthiest Black men and stands as one of Atlanta’s most significant architectural successes. The home is located in what has historically been called the ‘Northeast Lot’ of Atlanta University, now Clark-Atlanta University. This 9 1/2-acre cluster of important homes was planned by the University to be a model community; one might say a tiny Olmsted-type affluent suburb yet on a small scale — a haven for Atlanta’s academic and business elite. For more information, visit Herndon Home Mansion Museum.
This issue of the Byline was edited by Tianna Faulkner, VP of Print for AABJ.