It was my pleasure to be honored Saturday, August 11, 2018, by the Savannah Tribune on the anniversary of the newspaper’s 143rd year of service to the local black community. I grew up reading the black press — the Tribune, the Savannah Herald, Ebony and Jet magazines, and occasionally other black newspapers published in Atlanta, New York, and Pittsburgh.
Even though I plied my career in mainstream media — daily newspapers — I am sure that reading the black press helped to inspire me to consider that I could become a journalist. The Tribune asked me to write a short essay about the journalism influences in my life.
“Coming Full Circle” – Wanda Lloyd
My journey in journalism began when I was a student at Beach High School when a teacher, Mrs. Ella P. Law, saw talent in me not just as a writer, but as a student leader who produced the Beach Beacon. She observed me helping fellow students with their stories and she appointed me as editor of the newspaper when I was in 12th grade. I have always loved reading. As a child my family subscribed to the morning and afternoon local newspapers, the local black weekly papers, Ebony and Jet magazines and one or two national black weekly newspapers. On the way to church each week we purchased a copy of the Sunday Atlanta Constitution, which I would devour while the women in the house were in the kitchen preparing Sunday dinner.
I have always been curious about things going on around me, whether at my school, in my neighborhood or in my community. I recall listening to neighbor ladies on my grandmother’s front porch on West 41st Street sharing their stories of hard life and labor as we endured the restrictive period of Jim Crow in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1966, I attended a three-week summer workshop for black high school teachers and a few black students at Savannah State College. That same year, I represented Beach High when I wrote articles that were published in Teen Times, a weekly section of the Savannah Evening Press.
At Spelman College, where I majored in English — because Spelman did not have a journalism program — I became editor of the Spelman Spotlight. I dared to believe I could become a newspaper journalist, even though I had no journalism role models who were women or African-Americans. My grandmother had urged me to take education courses in college as a fallback. Nothing against teachers; we had teachers in my family, but teaching was not my passion. I didn’t follow my grandmother’s advice.
Even though I assumed I would become a newspaper reporter, a summer internship at the Providence (RI) Evening Bulletin put me on a different path. I skipped the reporter track and became a copy editor because someone told me during that internship that “copy editors make more money” and “copy editors get to management faster than reporters.” I wanted to become a newsroom leader. My trajectory in journalism has given me many opportunities to travel domestically and abroad, to meet presidents, governors and members of Congress, to help train students at several universities, to train and mentor an untold number of young journalists and industry leaders, and to help usher in what I call journalism’s “technical revolution.”
My journalism journey began in Savannah and ended in Savannah. I returned home in 2013 to lead the department that educates future mass communicators at Savannah State.
Now I spend time writing a memoir, with hopes that I can inspire a future generation of women and journalists who dare to buck normal paths to success. I call my path and my book “Coming Full Circle.”