Facing a country never built to sustain their strength, African-American female journalists have overcome obstacles put in place by those who wished upon their downfall.
These women dared to defy the norms and flourished from their pain and anger through writings spreading truth and justice, regarding knowledge about current news affairs, art, literature, and more.
The fight against systematic oppression including racism, sexism, and the white feminist movement, created an undeniable opportunity for black women to write themselves into history as well as advocate for those who have no voice.
So interconnected were their worlds where there could be no separation of these hardships; we still see ripple effects of their works in today’s society.
During a time in the United States when African-American people were being led to their deaths for simply attempting to learn how to read and write, women stood up and wrote of these atrocities, advocating for change within language, policies, and culture.
These women opened the path for other black female journalists to follow in their footsteps for generations to come.
Today, we see these changes and can validate these women and their life works by continuing to support our black female journalists in all their endeavors.
Presenting: black female journalists through time
Lillian Parker Thomas Fox (1854 - 1917)
Advocated profoundly for racial and gender equality. In 2014, Fox was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.
"The feminine heart yearns for broader paths wherein to walk, and intellectual highway whereupon all nations/sex may walk abreast."
Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin (1842 - 1924)
Community civic movement leader and editor of "The Women's Era", the first national newspaper published entirely by and for black women around 1894.
"All over America there is to be found a large and growing class of earnest, intelligent, progressive colored women ... many of them warped and cramped for lack of opportunity, not only to do more but to be more."
Ida B. Wells (1862 - 1931)
Abolitionist, publisher, and activist who led an anti-lynching movement in the United States in the 1890s. Co-founder of the NAACP
"The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press."
Peggy Peterman (1936 - 2004)
Civil rights activist. Pushed to abandon the "Negro News Page" in newspapers as well as inspired other journalists to remain true to conveying the black perspective in journalism. Founder of the Black History Pageant in St. Petersburg
"My ambition as a journalist was always to help the public understand who and what the African American family and culture was all about."
Belva Davis (born 1932)
First black woman TV reporter/journalist on the U.S. West Coast who helped change the face and focus of TV news, allowing for representation which was never there before. She soldered in the trenches in the battle for racial equality, and brought stories of black Americans out of the shadows and into the light of day.
"Don't be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so."
Yamiche Alchindor (born 1986)
Journalist, current White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour and political contributor to NBC News and MSNBC. Advocate for the intersection of race and politics as well as fatal police encounters.
"Dr. King said 'The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.' This quote reminds me that journalism must be a medium where we continue to dig into issues such as race and justice and ask tough questions."
Lynn Norment (born 1990)
EBONY magazine editor, journalist, and writer. Inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in 2009 and remains a committee member. Journalism professor at Columbia College Chicago and mentor to young media professionals.
"'You really have to look inside yourself and find your own inner strength, and say 'I'm proud of what I am and who I am, and I'm just going to be myself."