From Housewife to Journalist
In the early 70s, husband and wife publishers, Arlene and Carl Offord, started a Jet-sized publication, The Black American. Despite my lack of experience, they invited me to write for the magazine.
I had a byline but no pay. The experience, nonetheless, was invaluable; I was a housewife and mother of four by day, and a girl reporter by night!
I loved the excitement and variety that reporting provided. I wrote news and feature stories, attended movie and theater openings, covered communty events, and profiled celebrities, Harlem politicos, and local activists.
In 1979, I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Media from City College in New York City.
Back then, the City University of New York (CUNY) was tuition-free. Without this advantage, I am sure that I might not have attended college; my writing career would have been “a dream deferred.”
My first first paid, full-time reporting job was with the now-defunct Community News Service (CNS), a daily compilation of stories about the city’s black and Hispanic communities
Several of the major New York dailies subscribed to the service and used it as a “tip sheet” for stories they might otherwise not know about or cover.
I worked with some of the finest journalists: Gil Moore, former Life magazine writer, Bob Collazo, former reporter with the NY Daily News, and the late Annette Samuels, who left CNS to become assistant press secretary in the Carter administration.
At CNS, I was the rookie; these professionals taught me the basics of reporting–get your facts straight and weave them into a compelling story.
I went on to work for:
Newsweek (paid summer internship as a researcher)
The New York Amsterdam News, (copy editor)
Essence magazine(senior editor, health)
Food and Wine magazine (assistant editor)
The NY Beacon (formerly Big Red, managing editor)
The Allure Woman (health editor)
The Village Voice (senior editor, city/state)
I have contributed to Fun and Fit Life (Las Vegas) POZ, Black Enterprise, Today’s Black Woman, Modern Black Man, The Minority Business Quarterly, Beauty Digest, The City Sun (NYC), and St. Petersburg Times.
In 1988, I received an ONI Award from the International Black Women’s Congress for publishing Best of Health, a national health newsletter for African Americans. Issues are archived at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
In 1980, I was among 10 journalists nationwide selected as Ford Foundation Fellows in Educational Journalism.
Currently, I am working on a memoir about my son’s 16-year incarceration and eventual death in prison.
I produce a podcast, One Mother’s Voice: In the Name of Justice available on SoundCloud.
I also teach basic skills writing to adult learners at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas.