Black Media: Reflecting on the Past and Reimagining the Future

Deborah Douglas portrait.

Deborah D. Douglas

Deborah D. Douglas is co-editor in chief of The Emancipator. She previously served as the Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor at DePauw University, senior leader with The OpEd Project, amplifying underrepresented expert voices, and founding managing editor of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism. Deborah is author of the award-winning “Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail: A Traveler’s Guide to the People, Places, and Events That Made the Movement.”

Aleen Ratzlaff smiling portrait.

Aleen J. Ratzlaff

Aleen J. Ratzlaff, PhD, Professor of Communication, teaches at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas. She earned her doctorate at the University of Florida and a master’s at Wichita State University. Using archival primary sources and oral histories, her main research focus is the Black Press and its role in community building, particularly during the late-19th and early 20th centuries. Publications include Black Press Pioneers in Kansas and several chapters in Seeking a Voice: Images of Race and Gender in the 19th Century.

Dorothy Davis smiling portrait.

Dorothy M. Davis

Dorothy M. Davis is President of Griffith J. Davis Photographs and Archives LLC. The company is dedicated to preserving the historically unique and artistic photographs and untold stories by her Dad, Griff Davis. He was a pioneering African American international journalist, photographer and U.S. Senior Foreign Service Officer documenting the era at the vortex of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and the Independence Movement of Africa. The vision of Griffith J. Davis Photographs and Archives LLC is to exhibit, market, digitize, restore, merchandise, educate and promote his innovative and sophisticated body of work for the benefit and inspiration of generations to come.

DeShuna Spencer smiling portrait.

DeShuna Elisa Spencer

DeShuna Elisa Spencer is the Founder & CEO of kweliTV, a streaming platform that celebrates global black stories & amplifies storytellers of African descent. She’s a former radio host and producer of emPower Hour, a show that examined social justice issues affecting people of color, on Washington, DC’s 89.3 FM WPFW. Spencer graduated from Jackson State University where she studied communications and journalism. She has written for The Clarion-Ledger, The Oakland Tribune and the Crisis Magazine. She is a Halcyon Incubator Fellow, a Voqal Fellow and a Google NexGen Policy Leader. Spencer was first place winner of the 2017 Harvard Business School African Business Conference Pitch Competition. She is featured in the book, “How We Fight White Supremacy” as one of the more than 60+ black leading organizers, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs, etc., combating white supremacy through their work. In 2019, the Digital Diversity Network named Spencer the Innovation & Inclusion Social Entrepreneur of the Year.

Wesley Lowery smiling portrait.

Wesley Lowery

Wesley Lowery is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, and one of the nation’s leading reporters on issues of race and justice. His first book, They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement, was a New York Times bestseller and was awarded the Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose by the LA Times Book Prizes.

Anthony Harrison smiling portrait with head perched on hand.

Anthony Harrison

Anthony Harrison is passionate about the power of words. He loves a well-turned phrase and the impact of a powerful story. That is what brought him to public relations over 20 years ago. A graduate of Boston University’s College of Communication, Anthony’s career is built on telling powerful and compelling stories about everything from telephones (Verizon) to lattes (Starbucks) to Mickey Mouse (Disney); from the paper of record (The New York Times) and the world’s best-known software, (Microsoft) and most recently, the largest social network on the planet (Facebook). He prides himself on finding and telling stories that engage people and change their opinions. Stories that build or renew a reputation.

Tiffany Walden smiling portrait.

Tiffany Walden

As co-founder and editor-in-chief of The TRiiBE, Tiffany Walden has impressively built a news organization that has become a vital piece of Chicago’s media landscape and a voice for Black Chicago. She is a 2020 Leader for a New Chicago, and an award-winning journalist with bylines in local and national publications such as the Chicago Reader, BBC Travel, Complex Magazine and Vice. In 2021, Tiffany was listed as a change maker in Chicago Magazine’s “The New Power 30” issue, and included on the cover of the print edition. In 2018, Tiffany was selected to join the Poynter-NABJ Leadership Academy for Diversity in Digital Media class. Prior to launching The TRiiBE in 2017, Tiffany worked as a Breaking News Reporter at the Orlando Sentinel. She was raised on the West Side of Chicago in the North Lawndale community. Through her work, she demonstrates a fierce advocacy for systemic change, giving agency to under-represented voices in Black communities. Recently, Tiffany helped lead The TRiiBE to three 2021 Peter Lisagor Award wins for Best Neighborhood/Community News Website, Best Sports Story and Best Print Design.

Meredith Clark smiling portrait.

Meredith D. Clark, Ph.D.

Meredith D. Clark, Ph.D., (@MeredithDClark; she/her/hers) is an associate professor in Journalism and Communication Studies at Northeastern University. Her research focuses on the intersections of race, media, and power, including how newsroom demographics shape our news and social realities, and several studies on the initial wave of the Black Lives Matter Movement. She co-edited “Interrogating Digital Blackness,” a special issue published in July 2022 by the journal Social Media + Society. Her first book, “We Tried to Tell Y’all: Black Twitter and Digital Counternarratives” is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

Dr. Xenia Bhembe smiling portrait.

Dr. Xenia Johnson Bhembe

Dr. Xenia Johnson Bhembe is a Double Board Certified senior psychiatrist in the Boston area with over twenty years of practice. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Director of Community Minority Affairs at Cambridge Health Alliance, she has served in direct clinical care, medical student education and community outreach. She currently serves as the Director of Behavioral Health at the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, a primary care integrated care service and has become known by growing a network of leaders in the greater Boston area committed to equity and cultural understanding for vulnerable families. In 2020 Dr Johnson Bhembe founded a nonprofit organization, The Race Recovery Project a community based initiative to aid Black Americans combat the internalized negative effects of anti-black racism.

Chris Daly portrait.

Chris Daly

Chris Daly began his career as a full-time journalist, working for the AP and later as the New England correspondent for The Washington Post. For the past 25 years, he has been a professor in the Journalism Department at BU. His special interests are the history of US journalism and the literature of journalism. He’s the author of “Covering America” and a work-in-progress, “The Democratic Art.”

Tina McDuffie smiling portrait.

Tina McDuffie

Tina McDuffie is an award winning journalist & professor of journalism at Boston University. She is the host of the National series Local USA on WGBH WORLD Channel. McDuffie instructs broadcast journalism classes as an associate professor of the practice at COM.

Kevin Merida smiling portrait.

Kevin Merida

Kevin Merida is the executive editor of the Los Angeles Times. He took the helm of the largest newsgathering organization in the West in June 2021 and oversees the newsroom as well as Times Community News and Los Angeles Times en Español. Previously, Merida was a senior vice president at ESPN and editor in chief of the Undefeated, a multimedia platform that explores the intersections of race, sports and culture. Merida arrived at ESPN in November 2015 and launched the Undefeated in May 2016. Under his leadership, the Undefeated gradually expanded across Walt Disney Co. with a content portfolio that ranged from award-winning journalism to documentaries and television specials, from albums and music videos to live events, digital talk shows and two bestselling children’s books.

Paula Madison smiling portrait.

Paula Williams Madison

Paula Williams Madison is Chairman and CEO of Madison Media Management LLC and 88 Madison Media Works Inc. In 2011, Madison retired from NBCUniversal, where she had been Executive Vice President for Diversity as well as a Vice President of the General Electric Company (GE), then the parent company of NBCU. During her 22 years with NBCU, she also had been President and General Manager of NBC4 Los Angeles, Los Angeles Regional General Manager for NBCU’s Telemundo TV stations and Vice President and News Director of NBC4 New York.

She’s also the author and executive producer, respectively, of the book and documentary FINDING SAMUEL LOWE, which tell of her successful search to locate her Chinese grandfather’s descendants in China.

A dual citizen of both the US and Jamaica, Madison is a board member of her family’s investment company, Williams Group Holdings LLC, the majority owner of The Africa Channel, a cable and streaming channel focusing on the lands, people, culture and history of Africa. It can be seen in the US, Caribbean, Canada and South America on cable and as Demand Africa, a F.A.S.T. channel, on Pluto, Roku, etc.

Kathy A. Johnson smiling portrait.

Kathy A. Johnson

Kathy A. Johnson is a consultant and principal at The Lawrence Advisory, a human-capital consulting firm that offers Executive Search, Organizational Development, Leadership Coaching, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consulting.  She brings extensive leadership experience from both the corporate and non-profit sectors and a track record of success in building organizational capacity, infrastructure, and leadership programs to drive workforce diversity. Kathy earned her BS degree in Broadcast Journalism, cum laude, from Boston University and her MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where was a Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management Fellow.

Fanshen Cox smiling portrait.

Fanshen Cox

Award-winning playwright, actor, producer and educator, Fanshen Cox toured her one-woman show: One Drop of Love across the country for 7 years. For six years she served as SVP Development and Impact at Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Pearl Street Films, and is now the President of her own production company, TruJuLo Productions. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde, West Africa, and holds a BA in Spanish & Education, an MA in TESOL, and an MFA in TV, Film & Theatre. She has been honored with Distinguished Alumni Awards from CSULA and from Teachers College, Columbia University. Fanshen is also a co-author of the Inclusion Rider which was announced at the 2018 Oscar awards by Frances McDormand and the co-creator and co-host of the Webby nominated podcast Sista Brunch – highlighting Black womxn striving in entertainment and media.

Meghan Irons portrait.

Meghan E. Irons

Meghan E. Irons is a veteran journalist at the Boston Globe, covering a range of topics that touch on how culture, politics, and social issues intersect with every day life. She was a member of the award-winning project 68 Blocks, has explored the diverse communities in Boston, and currently serves as the City Hall Bureau chief, where she has been focusing on administration of Mayor J. Walsh. Prior to the Globe, Meghan worked at The Providence Journal, The Baltimore Sun and the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette in Indiana. She was raised in Dorchester and Mattapan, and currently lives in Hyde Park.

Ibram X. Kendi portrait.

Ibram X. Kendi

Ibram X. Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, and the founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. He is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News racial justice contributor.  

Dr. Kendi is the author of many highly acclaimed books including Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, making him the youngest author to win that award. He had also produced five #1 New York Times bestsellers, including How to Be an Antiracist; Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, co-authored with Jason Reynolds; and Antiracist Baby, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky. In 2020, Time magazine named Dr. Kendi one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world. He was awarded a 2021 MacArthur Fellowship, popularly known as the Genius Grant. His latest two books were the instant New York Times bestsellers, How to Raise an Antiracist and the picture book, Goodnight Racism.

Philip Martin portrait in profile, looking down.

Phillip Martin

Phillip Martin, senior investigative reporter for The GBH News Center for Investigative Reporting, is a multi-award winning journalist, including three National Edward R. Murrow Awards for Investigative Reporting, most recently for a 2021 series on the trafficking of young men titled Unseen. He is a 2022 Joan Shorenstein Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard.

Mark Walton smiling portrait.

Mark Walton

Mark Walton has devoted much of his professional career to helping independent content creators plus an array of media organizations develop sustainable business models.  He is a staunch advocate for multicultural media.  Currently, Mark is a member of a working group charged with advancing the film industry in Barbados and last year he was named an Ambassador for the Pavillon Afriques at the Cannes Film Festival. 
Professionally, Mark was most recently President of Sales & Marketing for One Caribbean Television, and prior to that, he was a member of the senior management team that launched The Africa Channel in the US and the UK.

Michael Holley smiling portrait.

Michael Holley

I’ve authored six New York Times bestselling books and have spent a dozen years working for three daily newspapers (the Akron Beacon Journal, Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune). I was part of the Beacon Journal‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning team in 1994. I have experience in electronic media as well, from co-hosting a sports-talk radio show in Boston for 13 years to co-hosting studio and pre- and post-game shows now on NBC Sports Boston.

Amber Payne smiling portrait.

Amber Payne

Amber Payne was a 2021 Nieman fellow at Harvard University. She formerly served as managing editor of, leading editorial and digital video strategy; executive producer of Teen Vogue and Them; and, in 2015, launched NBCBLK, a section of dedicated to elevating the conversation around Black identity, social issues, and culture. Amber started her career at NBC Nightly News producing breaking news and feature stories.

Oriel Davis-Lyons serious portrait.

Oriel Davis-Lyons

Oriel Davis-Lyons used to be a chef. But, after getting tired of the long hours and intense pressure he decided to get into advertising. He started his career in New Zealand before moving the US in 2015 where he worked in New York at some of the world’s top agencies including Droga5 and R/GA before before joining Spotify, where he is Head Of Creative for Podcasts + Talk.  

He has won over 100 awards for his work on multinational brands, nonprofits and failed Presidential campaigns. He is also the founder of ONE School, the first free, online portfolio program for aspiring Black creatives and Corpleisure, a work from home-wear brand for the new normal. He lives in Upstate New York with his family.