“Annually NABJ pays homage to legendary black journalists who have made outstanding contributions to the industry,” stated Aprill O. Turner, communications consultant for the National Association of Black Journalists. On Thursday, Jan. 17, six journalists will join the 50 previously inducted into the NABJ Hall of Fame.
“We expect,” explained Turner, "upwards of 500 attendees to fill the gorgeous Annenberg Theater as the only event at the Newseum to solely recognize black journalists. CBS Correspondent Byron Pitts and CNN International Correspondent Isha Sesay will lead the 90-minute program with awards and presentations.”
The Newseum, located at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue in Northwest Washington, D.C., hosted the induction ceremony and has been home to the NABJ Hall of Fame for the last 3 years. Turner sees it as a fitting backdrop to honor the best and brightest in journalism.
Soon to be counted among great communicators are Betty Winston Bayé, Simeon Saunders Booker, Jr., the late Alice Dunnigan, Sue Simmons, the late Wendell Smith, and Cynthia Tucker. Each in their own way has left indelible footprints for others to follow.
Bayé logged more than 25 years in journalism including matriculating through Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and winning a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard University. The only African-American editorial writer and columnist on The Courier Journal staff in Louisville, Ky., Bayé produced biting, yet insightful commentaries on race, politics, social justice, and African-American history and culture. She is now an independent writer, playwright, speaker, and adjunct college profession.
History was made when Booker joined the heralded Washington Post. Completion of a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University paved the way to his distinction as the first African American reporter on staff at the Post. Booker’s career, before and after the Post, spanned not only the transformative era of the Civil Rights Movement but political reporting on each presidential election between Dwight D. Eisenhower and George W. Bush for Johnson Publishing. Booker also received the prestigious National Press Club’s Fourth Estate Award.
Dunnigan chronicled her amazing career in the autobiography “A Black Woman’s Experience From Schoolhouse to White House.” This former Kentucky teacher evolved into the first African-American woman credentialed to cover the White House, Congress, and the State Department and to also break the color barrier in the Women’s National Press Club. As the Washington correspondent for the Associated Negro Press, for decades, she shed light on the substantial twists and turns of American government.
Simmons anchored the evening news at WNBC-TV, NBC’s flagship station, for 32 years. Her adroit and witty handling of the news inspired a new generation of broadcast journalists. Simmons and Chuck Scarborough may have been the longest running co-anchor team in New York City history. Simmons, an icon, left WNBC last year and soon tested out her acting skills on the popular “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” television drama playing herself.
Smith moved from sportswriter for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the most popular newspapers among African Americans, to baseball scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers and back to sports writing and broadcaster for the Chicago Sun-Times and WGN-TV respectively. In between, he played a pivotal role in Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in modern Major League Baseball, and himself broke through racial barriers in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He was posthumously bestowed the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in journalism and inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Tucker’s courageous and persuasive syndicated columns earned her a Pulitzer Prize in 2007. Just a year earlier, NABJ had named her journalist of the year. She was a columnist and editor at the Atlantic Journal-Constitution at the time. Tucker, like notable journalists before her, won a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University earlier in her career. Tucker remains as progressive today as ever in her syndicated commentary, television commentary, and as visiting professor of journalism and Charlayne Hunter-Gault distinguished writer-in-residence at the University of Georgia.
Added honors go to Richard Prince, the popular columnist for the Maynard Institute for Journalism. He will receive the prestigious NABJ Ida B. Wells Award, which recognizes outstanding efforts to make newsrooms and news coverage more accurately reflect the diversity of the communities being served.
“We will honor,” declared Turner, “seven trailblazing journalists that have had impactful impressions on the journalism profession.”
Tickets to join the literati-filled evening continue on sale until Jan. 17 at www.nabj.org. General admission is $153 per NABJ member and $253 per nonmember. VIP admission costs $503 per person. Sponsors may contact Natalia Prakash for more information at email@example.com or 301.405.0248.
All rights to this article are reserved by Gloria Blakely. Copyright 2013.