My Black History: Discipline from the ‘MD’

Today and throughout February, I am posting brief excerpts from my upcoming memoir, “Coming Full Circle — From Jim Crow to Journalism.” Today’s posting is about going back to Columbus, Ohio, the city of my birth, and living with my Uncle Watson and his family, including my four first cousins. I remember many spankings that […]

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My Black History: ‘Make us proud’

Today and throughout February, I am posting brief excerpts from my upcoming memoir, “Coming Full Circle — From Jim Crow to Journalism.” Our families were awfully proud when children brought home good grades on report cards. Sometimes neighbors would ask to see my card and, to reward my good work, would give me a dollar. […]

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My Black History: The father I didn’t know

Today and throughout February, I am posting brief excerpts from my upcoming memoir, “Coming Full Circle — From Jim Crow to Journalism.” My mother, Gloria, was pregnant shortly before she turned 19 years old. She was dating John Smalls, a young man from Savannah with whom she had gone to high school. Gloria, a December […]

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My Black History: Making a difference

Today and throughout February, I am posting brief excerpts from my upcoming memoir, “Coming Full Circle — From Jim Crow to Journalism.”  In the pre-dawn hours of August 28, 1963, a bus pulled out of New York City with my mother as the organizer. Aside from her professional acumen, Gloria was a bad-ass feminist and […]

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My Black History: They called us ‘Nigger’

Today and throughout February, I am posting brief excerpts from my upcoming memoir, “Coming Full Circle — From Jim Crow to Journalism.” Growing up in the Jim Crow years in a restrictive, segregated society meant we were not able to go certain places or travel in certain ways like white people did in Savannah. But […]

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My Black History: Demanding respect

Today and throughout February, I am posting brief excerpts from my upcoming memoir, “Coming Full Circle — From Jim Crow to Journalism.” My grandmother was an educator. She learned the trade of cosmetology at Spelman and she became Madam J.M. Walker in Savannah (no relation to Madam C.J. Walker of St. Louis, the first black […]

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My Black History: Separate and unequal

Today and throughout February, I am posting brief excerpts from my upcoming memoir, “Coming Full Circle — From Jim Crow to Journalism.” Attending segregated, underfunded schools in the Jim Crow South was a way of life in the 1950s-1960s. Having grown up in a family where education was a significant value, in my adult years […]

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My Black history: Fun ‘big sister’ Gloria

  Today and throughout February, I am posting brief excerpts from my upcoming memoir, “Coming Full Circle — From Jim Crow to Journalism.” Today’s story is an early look at my mother, Gloria Walker. Gloria and others in the family, and a few close adult family friends referred to Oper Lee Watson Walker, my maternal […]

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Reflections of my grandmother’s service in the Savannah community — 1930s – 1960s

(Blogger’s note:  My grandmother was a leader in Savannah’s African-American community, especially at Second African Baptist Church, where members of the Oper Walker Guild continue to carry on her legacy 47 years after she passed away. I was asked to address the Guild’s 52nd anniversary program to offer reflections about my grandmother, and to refresh […]

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Courageous testimony in the #MeToo era

“Here, pin this in your bra,” my grandmother would tell me when I was leaving the house on a date, or going out with female friends to places where boys would be present. The item she handed me with a safety-pin was one of her personal cloth handkerchiefs knotted with a dime inside. The dime […]

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I was recognized at the Savannah Biscuits Brunch and Sneaker Ball

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, […]

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Were we at the end of an era (in journalism)?

One of the tools I use while writing my memoir, Coming Full Circle: Jim Crow to Journalism, is to go back and read reports, surveys, books and view videos where I was a participant or where I was featured. This week I re-read “Copy: The first 50 years of the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund,” by […]

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A call for conversations about race (and other differences)

With this post I’m sharing something I wrote for our local newspaper in Savannah, GA. In my career as an editor for newspapers for more than 40 years, I spent a lot of time working on issues of diversity and inclusion. This was important because the audiences we served — readers — were changing. Then […]

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Attorney Fred Gray: A Celebration of Civil Rights Legacy and Leadership

Most people of a certain age remember where they were in the seminal moments of their lives, like November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, or the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. I also think about the much-anticipated arrival of the new millennium when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000, […]

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Living Under Jim Crow

Come listen all you galls and boys I’s jist from Tuckyhoe, I’m going to sing a little song, my name’s Jim Crow, Weel about and turn about and do jis so, Ebry time I weel about I jump Jim Crow. — From the minstrel show “Jump Jim Crow” performed by Thomas Rice My growing-up years – the 1950s and 1960s — were greatly affected by Jim Crow statutes enacted in mostly Southern states and municipalities that legalized segregation between blacks and whites. More than 60 years later, this system […]

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No stranger to professional challenges

Many people I’ve met throughout my adult life —  especially during the period when I was climbing through the ranks of daily newspaper journalism and leading journalism academic programs — have asked me how I gained  personal confidence and leadership chops as one of the first African-American women editors  in daily metropolitan newspaper newsrooms. As […]

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The family I created

The best part of my growing-up years began on Columbus Day, October 12, 1957. I was in the third grade and my family – a family I created – moved into a brand new pink brick house on West 41st Street in Savannah. I had created the family two months earlier on the day when […]

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Success, despite growing up separate and unequal

  This is me dressed as a milkmaid (for some program at school, no doubt) on the steps of my grandmother’s house in Savannah I grew up in Savannah, in Georgia’s coastal area, at a time when there were two societies — one black and one white. It would take me decades to learn just […]

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Hot combs and ‘zing-boom’ hair

Growing up, there was hardly any mention of my biological father, except that I knew his name was John Henry Smalls, that he had attended high school with my mother and who had gone into the service during World War II. Like many young men during that time, my father left home for the war […]

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Battle with the lemon tree

AFter a few years of waiting for the lemon tree to yield fruit in abundance, this is the year of the lemons in my yard.

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