Much of Black history in the U.S. is grounded in the fight for equality and representation. The story of African Americans in journalism is no different — from the time when Black storytellers and African American communities were only represented in the Black press to days of a greater presence in major newsrooms and on broadcasts heard or watched by millions across the nation.
The U.S. is strengthened by diversity, but a 2018 Pew survey found that African Americans are still underrepresented in the nation’s newsrooms. There is still progress to be made.
To celebrate Black History Month, we’re taking a look at 10 journalists of color telling the stories that are an essential part of the panorama of the U.S. These Black media powerhouses are in addition to our lists from 2018 and 2019.
Yamiche Alcindor is the White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, covering press briefings as well as the presidential conventions and election night.
She appears as a frequent contributor on NBC and MSNBC shows as well as PBS’s Washington Week. She was the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) 2020 Journalist of the Year.
In December of 2020, she told Glamour magazine that she decided to become a journalist after learning about Jet magazine’s coverage of the murder of Emmett Till and how it galvanized the nation to confront lynching.
In an Elle magazine story on the women who covered the Trump administration, Alcindor said, “Asking the president, ‘Do you mean to embolden white nationalists, white supremacists?’ is why I became a journalist. African Americans have had to fight and die to be in the spaces that I now get to be in.”
In 2015, Lester Holt became the first African American to anchor a network nightly news show solo when he took the reins of NBC Nightly News. Prior to that, he hosted the weekend Nightly News and Today shows. Currently, he also anchors the NBC news magazine show Dateline.
He moderated one of the 2016 presidential debates and conducted the interview in which President Trump addressed the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Holt has won multiple Emmys and the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism and was honored as Journalist of the Year by the NABJ in 2016.
The Trump Presidency put a number of White House correspondents in the spotlight, including April Ryan, who became a household name for her astute questioning. She is currently the D.C. Bureau Chief for TheGrio, a role that she previously held at Urban Radio One, and a political analyst for CNN.
She was honored as the NABJ 2017 Journalist of the Year. She is also a member of the White House Correspondents’ Association board.
She told Elle magazine in their profile of the women who covered the Trump White House, “One of the things that separates the U.S. from other countries is our free and independent press—a press that is allowed to ask the president anything. So when the president tells me to be quiet and ‘sit down,’ it’s painful.”
Abby Phillip is the host of CNN’s Inside Politics Sunday and Senior Political Correspondent. She was previously a White House correspondent with CNN and prior to that held roles at Politico, ABC, and the Washington Post.
Phillip has made appearances on PBS’s Washington Week and she co-moderated one of the 2020 Democratic debates.
She was instrumental to CNN’s 2020 election night coverage. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, she reflected, “I think the story of Black women in American history has been one of perseverance. And I do think there’s a special resonance to the country electing a Black woman as VP after one of the most explicitly racially divisive elections we’ve had in decades and also after a summer of powerful activism around racial equity.”
Audie Cornish is a co-host of NPR’s flagship afternoon news show All Things Considered. She also appears as a panelist on NBC’s Meet the Press.
In a conversation with the Columbia Journalism Review, she described the art of interviewing saying, “It’s like fireworks, you know? There’s a lot of planning that goes into fireworks. Even though what you see in the end looks kind of beautiful and chaotic and surprising.”
Karen Attiah is the Washington Post’s Global Opinion Editor, who rose to prominence for her coverage of the murder of her colleague Jamal Khashoggi, for which she was named the 2019 NABJ Journalist of the Year.
On the subject of the Black Lives Matter movement and recent protests, she told the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs’ SIPA Magazine, “There is a lot of energy to right so many wrongs that are so baked into America and Europe and ideas about Blackness and the Black world. We cannot call ourselves a democracy until Black people are given the parity, representation, and safety that our white neighbors, coworkers, and friends enjoy. This is a human rights issue, a labor rights issue, and a security and policing issue. Fundamentally, it’s about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is all we are asking for—still asking for, 400 years later.”
Errin Haines is editor-at-large for The 19*, “an independent, nonprofit newsroom reporting on gender, politics, and policy.” She previously covered race and politics for AP and has appeared as a commentator on numerous shows.
In the 2020 Glamour magazine article “8 Journalists on Reporting While Black, With the Weight of History on Their Shoulders,” she said, “Black women have been telling the truth about America for a long time. As a Black woman in journalism, my obligation is no less than that. And I do that on the shoulders of all of the women who’ve done that work before me and with me now.”
Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer-winning columnist for the Washington Post covering politics. He is a frequent guest on Meet the Press and serves as a political analyst for MSNBC.
Don Lemon is the anchor of CNN Tonight and a pillar of the network’s nightly news schedule. He is best known for his earnest, outspoken commentary.
He also co-moderated one of the 2020 Democratic debates.
Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also appears frequently on the NPR Politics podcast and other NPR shows.
Rascoe has also been a guest on PBS’s Washington Week as a political commentator.
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Nicole Howard is a product manager at Cision, as well as an editor and freelance writer. When not working or reading, she enjoys word puzzles and the outdoors.