Morgan State University will formally launch its new School of Global Journalism and Communication on October 3 with events that coincides with the university’s annual Homecoming celebration. The J-school started serving students at the university in the current semester. Morgan State, one of the nation’s oldest and largest historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), will hold a ceremonial ribbon cutting at the journalism school’s building at 4905 Perring Parkway on the university’s campus in northeast Baltimore. The ceremony begins at 11:15 a.m. with the chairman of the University Board of Regents, former Maryland congressman and Morgan alumnus Kweisi Mfume, university president Dr. David Wilson and other dignitaries taking part in the festivities. Leading the journalism school is USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham (pictured below) and among journalists in residence is Pulitzer Prize winner E.R. Shipp. Tours of the school will follow the ceremony and guests will be able to observe students demonstrating their expertise in various aspects of multimedia journalism.
The ribbon cutting kicks off a day of activities celebrating the new journalism school, the first housed at a historically Black college with a primary mission of training the next generation of journalists and mass communicators to compete in a global media environment. Morgan State University is one of five HBCUs with journalism programs, the others being Hampton University, Howard University, Texas Southern University and Florida A & M University. Designated Maryland’s urban research institution, Morgan State has played an important role in the history of the state and nation. It most recently claimed its place in civil rights history when it helped bring to light the role of Morgan students in leading the sit-in movement. A downtown Baltimore development project on the site of the old Read’s Drugstore helped illuminate the role the university’s students played in leading the nation’s first sit-in at Read’s in 1955, years before the more well-known and chronicled sit-in at Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina. Notable Morgan State alumni include Black Enterprise magazine founder Earl G. Graves, NFL Hall of Famers Willie Lanier and Leroy Kelly, the late Parren J. Mitchell, the first African-American from Maryland to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, legendary college basketball coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines, and retired Chief Justice of the Maryland Court of Appeals Robert Bell.
Later in the day, the journalism school will host a symposium focused on Media and the Civil Rights Struggle in 1963. The program will start at 2 p.m. in the Communication Center’s Ruth Sheffey Lecture Hall. The moderator of the symposium will be ABC World News reporter and chief national correspondent Byron Pitts. Joining Pitts on the panel will be Pulitzer Prize winning author Taylor Branch, who penned a trilogy on the civil rights movement starting with “Parting the Waters: America in the King Years,” New York Times editor and national correspondent Paul Delaney, Morgan state alumna and Read’s sit-in participant Helena Hicks, retired Baltimore Evening Sun editorial page editor Ray Jenkins, and the Pulitzer Prize winning Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page.
The symposium will analyze media coverage of pivotal events from 1963 such as the March on Washington, the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and NAACP Field Director Medgar Evers, the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, as well as campaigns in the city of Baltimore to integrate Gwynn Oak Amusement Park and the Northwood movie theater, the latter located across from the Morgan State campus.
A special feature of the symposium will be video interviews with legendary Black journalists, Simeon Booker and Moses Newson. For years Booker was the senior editor for Jet Magazine who covered the civil rights movement and incidents such as the lynching of Emmett Till in Mississippi. Like Booker, Moses Newson spent his career covering the civil rights movement and at great personal risk. Both men were key observers to the dramatic events of 1963 as the nation was confronted with the atrocities of Black life in the south under Jim Crow and the federal government’s reluctance under the Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations to intervene on behalf of African-Americans.
During the recent convention of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in Orlando Florida, university president Dr. David Wilson spoke of the mission of the new J-school. “We've launched a school of global journalism and communication. Just as we lead this country's historically black colleges and universities in the production of Fulbright Scholars, we want to lead the way in producing a new generation of black journalists...journalists who are well prepared to work in the global village the world has become,” said Wilson. He noted that in 2012 Morgan State ranked 5th among all universities in America producing Black graduates with degrees in journalism and communication.
The launch of the Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication coincides with the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, and the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln.
NorthStarNews.com Executive Editor Walter Fields is an alumnus of Morgan State University. Photo courtesy of Richard Muhammad, editor The Final Call, and Morgan State University alumnus.