By Akira Kyles
The School of Global Journalism and Communication at Morgan State University hosted their 25th alumni brunch, welcoming students, alumnus, and faculty.
The key speaker for the event was Sonya Ross, race demographics editor for the Associated Press. Originally Gwen Ifill, co-anchor and managing editor of the “PBS NewsHour” and moderator editor of “Washington Week”, was supposed to speak but fell ill and was unable to attend.
Morgan Alumnus best friends Phillis Vaughn and Patricia Jackson attended the event to hear Ifill speak, although a little disappointed of the change, they were still happy to be at the event.
“I came as a way of celebrating homecoming,” said Vaughn.
Ross spoke on stories that define generations, why it’s important to get those stories correct and how race defines the generation of young people today.
Stories such as the Vietnam War, Watergate, the Los Angeles riots, the election of Bill Clinton and the O.J. Simpson trials all define generations, according to Ross.
“If you’re a current student now, you may be asking yourself ‘what is the story that defines my generation and how do I go out there and get a piece of it?’” said Ross. “Well, just in my subjective opinion, the story that defines your generation is race.”
Ross went on to further explain why students should accept race as a defining factor of this generation.
“If there is passion behind what you do and you are observing the events that are happening, even right here in Baltimore, you have to take race to heart as the story that defines your generation.”
Ross led a question and answer segment where she touched on issues such as the history of the African-American race and difficulties in accurately reporting African-American stories.
“Our history has never been taught to anyone; not only was it not taught to us, it was not taught to white people. We cannot keep each other ignorant,” said Ross. “Our stories have been mistold and mistaken for so long that there’s not a lot of trust. You have to show them that you’re going to do right by the information you’re sharing.”
SGJC lecturer, Professor Denise Cabrera used to work alongside Ross as a metro editor and news editor and approved of her as a replacement.
“Sonya is a perfect stand-in for Gwen because they sort of come up together. I’ve known both of them sort of since their germination in journalism,” said Cabrera. According to Cabrera, Ross has only professionally worked at the Associated Press, even for internships.
The SGJC department also gave two awards to a faculty member and student, as well as a scholarship to another student.
The department started an award called the Spirit Award, one for a student and one for a faculty member. The Spirit Award acknowledges people in the department that go above and beyond to show what it is to be a member of SGJC and a passion ambassador.
The faculty award winner was professor Pia Jordan, assistant professor in multimedia journalism and the student award winner was strategic communications major, Alexander Boykin. Jordan was awarded $500 and Boykin was awarded $300. According to Dean Wickham, the money for the awards came straight from the chair members pockets.
The department also awarded Desire Peace with the Allegra Bennett Award, a new award to honor recently passed journalist and writer Allegra Bennett.
Next school year, there will be a new scholarship in honor of George W. Collins, funded by the Collins family to help students majoring in journalism.
The event showed the dedication and support of the department not only to students, but to faculty members and former students as well and unified members of the Morgan family during its homecoming celebration.