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How Women Journalists Of Color Shaped The Media And Made America Great

Magazine, The Immigrant Experience

America – which is unquestionably the greatest nation on earth in terms of its values, social, political, and economic system – hasn’t become great overnight. It covered a long distance while thousands of people with torches lit by their sweat and blood led its path until great America achieved the status it enjoyed for about a century now.

One of the milestones that America achieved on its journey to greatness was the enactment of the Fair Housing Act on April 11, 1968. This development marked the ending of the Civil Rights Movement that began during the 1860s but gained momentum during the 1950s and1960s. It was a struggle initiated and fueled by both Blacks and Whites that helped to achieve greater social and economic mobility for Afro-Americans and other deprived groups, banned racial discrimination, and provided women and religious minorities greater access to resources.

However, these achievements cost blood before bearing fruit as the Blacks lost their two prominent leaders: Malcolm X, the founder of Organization of Afro-American Unity, and Nobel laureate Martin Luther King on February 21, 1965, and April 4, 1968, respectively.

Besides the unforgettable contributions and sacrifices of such prominent figures, many other people from other walks of life played significant roles during the reconstruction era, the gilded age, the progressive era, the industrialization period, and the immigration crisis, and helped America become a strong global political and economic leader.

Here, we shed light on the lives and contributions of a few non-native women journalists.

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett Who Born into Slavery 

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (1862 – 1931) was a journalist, teacher, and one of the early leaders in the American Civil Rights Movement. She was born into slavery and was free during the American Civil War.

Wells was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She arguably became the most famous Black woman in the US as a result of her lifetime commitment to fighting prejudice and violence, and the cause of African-American equality. Throughout her life, she had been fighting tirelessly against lynching and consistently exposed violence and oppression against black Americans.

She lobbied and ran a movement against segregation in schools and the system stopped the adoption of an officially segregated school system. Many awards, schools, foundations, museums, and other initiatives have been established in the US to honor Wells.

Mexican-American Journalist Jovita Idar

Jovita Idar Vivero (1885 -1946) was a journalist, educator, political and civil rights activist who stood up for the Mexican-Americans’ rights. She was the one who helped organize the first Mexican American civil rights conference in 1911 to address lynching, racism, and discriminatory treatment meted out to immigrants in America.

She also fought for gender equity, labor rights, and the educational rights of children. She was also active in state politics as she had established a democratic club from where she had been challenging the status quo and fighting to increase the standard of living for non-natives.

She is among the most important women in US history who crossed national, racial, and gender boundaries through her astounding work for safeguarding the rights of the oppressed segments of American society. She was a prolific bilingual writer who produced bilingual social, economic, and political commentaries on issues of global importance.

Idar is one of the many immigrants whose contributions to making America great were not acknowledged in their lifetime.

African-American Journalists Dorothy Butler Gilliam

Dorothy Pearl Butler Gilliam was (born 1936) is a journalist, educator, and activist who was the first African-American female reporter at The Washington Post.

Her public service activism started when she helped organize protests against the New York Daily News after it fired two-thirds of its African-American staff, and culminated in her presidency of the National Association of Black Journalists from 1993 to 1995.

In 1997, she created the Young Journalists Development Program for The Washington Post to attract more youngsters towards journalism. This initiative of hers played a worthwhile role in the promotion of free and active press in the US.

In 2004, she also established Prime Movers Media at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs. This was the first American program that taught journalism to underserved students.  She was awarded many awards and honors for her splendid efforts to promote journalism in the US.

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