Some Said All Along: Tubman Idea Is on the Money

Garcia Named to Lead JSK Fellows at Stanford

Lester Holt Named NABJ’s ‘Journalist of the Year’

NAHJ to Honor Arocha, Balta, Villafañe, Montemayor

Harris-Perry Joins as Editor-at-Large

Daily News Fires Editor Over Missing Attribution

Media Faulted for Failing to Separate Muslims, ISIS

After Gray Case, a Minus for National Media

Story on Catholic Trafficking in Slaves Strikes Chord

Cuba Thaw Affecting Attitude Toward Journalists

Short Takes

Harriet Tubman Tubman would be the first woman honored on paper currency since Martha Washington’s portrait briefly graced the $1 silver certificate in the late 19th century. (Credit: Women on 20s)

Harriet Tubman would be the first woman honored on paper currency since Martha Washington’s portrait briefly graced the $1 silver certificate in the late 19th century. (Credit: Women on 20s)

Some Said All Along: Tubman Idea Is on the Money

When Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced on Wednesday that the face of abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman would grace a new $20 bill, NPR reached out to Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“For me, having Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill really says, first of all, that America realizes that it’s not the same country that it once was — that it’s a place where diversity matters,” Bunch told “All Things Considered.” “And it allows us to make a hero out of someone like Harriet Tubman, who deserves to be a hero.”

“Black Twitter” exploded, Zeba Blay wrote for the Huffington Post. “Tubman — an abolitionist and former slave, who led hundreds of slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad — will become not only the first woman, but the first black person to be featured prominently on US currency. It’s huge news, and black people on Twitter have a lot of feelings about it,” Blay wrote, posting a series of tweets.

Tamron Hall of NBC’s “Today” show contributed one. She wrote, “Can’t wait to say ‘It’s all about the Harriets’ #HarrietTubman 20$”

Wednesday’s positive reaction mirrored what some pro-Tubman commentators have said for at least a year.

The Baltimore Sun, invoking its local pride, said in an editorial on May 19, 2015, “Traditionalists may pitch a fit, but you could scarcely choose a more heroic figure — or a better time for Maryland to embrace someone who challenged white men of property with seemingly little interest in the concerns of women, the poor or people of color.

“At the very least, a little diversity in the American billfold is overdue. And instead of plastering the names of the latest elected governors, mayors or slogans on roadside signs welcoming visitors to Maryland, why not proudly proclaim this as the state of Harriet Tubman? That’s something people might actually care about.”

DeWayne Wickham wrote in May 2015 in USA Today, “With the exception of Abraham Lincoln, the white men on the face of every denomination of our nation’s paper currency, from the $1 to $100 bills, had a hand in slavery. . . . . “Owning and trafficking in slaves didn’t require any great courage of the men whose faces are on the most widely used U.S. currency bills. But sneaking onto the plantations of slavers in the dead of the night to spirit away some of the people they held in bondage did. . . .”

Mary C. Curtis, writing that same month for the Women’s Media Center, concluded, “This one honor won’t solve all American society’s ills, and it may even be seen as crass — using money to reward a woman who fought against being treated as the spoils of a transaction. But that’s a lot of weight to put on this one honor, way too much for it to bear.

“Are there positives? There is the satisfaction of knowing there will be an instant, though momentary reminder of Tubman’s place in American history each time an ATM spews a $20. That is a rather cool, even subversive notion, since those who object to the choice will have to bear it or boycott the bill.

“And to young women, especially young African American women, who are still striving against the odds, Tubman is an example of grace, grit, and spirit in one body. The woman born a slave survived so much, overcame crushing odds, and achieved far beyond what America expected or deserved. . . .”

Women and people of color were not of one mind, however, as Curtis and the Washington Post’s David Swerdlick noted last May.

“I take a different view than Time’s Sierra Mannie, PostEverything’s Feminista Jones and The Root’s Kirsten West Savali, my friend and former colleague, who all believe Tubman on the $20 would be an affront,” Swerdlick wrote. “Because if we’re talking about American heroes, Tubman really is the gold standard.

That this is particularly controversial seems to miss the point.

“Mannie calls it a ‘pat-on-the-back apology for being black,’ but it’s really just the standard way that we honor people. Regardless of race, when your contributions to this country’s history are as consequential as Tubman’s — leading African Americans from slavery to freedom, spying for and fighting with the U.S. Army in the Civil War, advocating for women’s suffrage alongside Anthony — this is how you’re commemorated, or, at least, should be.

“You get a school named after you, maybe your own postage stamp, a biopic, a Google doodle on your birthday or — if there’s a vacancy — your face on the $20. If Tubman were somehow still alive, it’d be nice to see the first black president present her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but since that’s not possible, taking over for [President Andrew] Jackson is it. . . .”

As Jackie Calmes reported Wednesday for the New York Times, “Tubman, an African-American and a spy for the Union, would bump Jackson — a white man known as much for his persecution of Native Americans as for his war heroics and advocacy for the common man — to the rear of the $20, in some reduced image. Tubman would be the first woman so honored on paper currency since Martha Washington’s portrait briefly graced the $1 silver certificate in the late 19th century.

“While Hamilton would remain on the $10, and Abraham Lincoln on the $5s, images of women would be added to the back of both — in keeping with Mr. Lew’s intent ‘to bring to life’ the national monuments depicted there.

“The picture of the Treasury building on the back of the $10 bill would be replaced with a depiction of a 1913 march in support of women’s right to vote that ended at the building, along with portraits of five suffrage leaders: Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony, who in recent years was on an unpopular $1 coin until minting ceased.

“On the flip side of the $5 bill, the Lincoln Memorial would remain but as the backdrop for the 1939 performance there of Marian Anderson, the African-American opera star, after she was barred from singing in the segregated Constitution Hall nearby. Sharing space on the rear would be images of Eleanor Roosevelt, the first lady who arranged Anderson’s Lincoln Memorial performance, and of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who in 1963 delivered his ‘I have a dream’ speech from its steps.”

Garcia Named to Lead JSK Fellows at Stanford

Dawn E. Garcia, managing director of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships Program at Stanford, has been named director of the program,” the fellowships program announced on Thursday.

Dawn M. Garcia

Dawn E. Garcia

“She will succeed James Bettinger, who is retiring August 31 after 27 years as director and deputy director. The appointment is effective Sept. 1.

“Garcia, 56, was named to the position by Richard Saller, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences. The appointment culminated an international search conducted by a seven-person search committee.

“The JSK program each year brings 18 to 20 U.S. and international journalists and journalism entrepreneurs to Stanford. They focus on journalism innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership, and work on journalism challenges that they propose as part of the selection process. The program celebrates its 50th anniversary this year; its 1,000th fellow will be part of next year’s class. . . .”

“Among other things, it means that all five major journalism fellowship programs (JSK, Nieman, Knight-Wallace at Michigan, Knight Science at MIT and Knight-Bagehot at Columbia) will be directed by women,” Bettinger messaged Journal-isms. [Added April 21]

Lester Holt visited the board of directors of the National Association of Black Journalists when it met April 2 in the New York headquarters of NBC. (Credit: NABJ)

Lester Holt visited the board of directors of the National Association of Black Journalists when it met April 1 and 2 at NBC’s New York headquarters. (Credit: NABJ)

Lester Holt Named NABJ’s ‘Journalist of the Year’

Lester Holt, anchor of ‘NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt,’ has been selected as the 2016 Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists,” NABJ announced Wednesday.

The annual award recognizes a black journalist who has distinguished himself or herself with a body of work that has extraordinary depth, scope and significance to people in the African Diaspora.

“Lester Holt is a dynamic broadcaster who is diligent in his pursuit of the facts and demonstrates a stellar work ethic that shows up in his reporting, which also provides context and superior coverage for television and digital audiences,” NABJ President Sarah Glover said in the announcement.

“His quiet confidence and low-key demeanor have garnered trust and admiration from both the viewers who watch him every night and from journalists across the country.”

“Holt was named the permanent anchor of NBC Nightly News in June 2015. The promotion made him the first black solo anchor at a flagship newscast of a major American television network. Since assuming the role, he has helped NBC Nightly News maintain its ranking as the most-watched evening news program. He also continues as the anchor of ‘Dateline NBC,’ the network’s signature newsmagazine and longest-running show in primetime. . . .”

[On Thursday, in citing Holt’s credentials to be listed among the “Time 100 Leaders,” Scott Kelly, a retired American astronaut who returned to Earth in March, described watching Holt from space. Kelly said the anchor was from the same mold as the iconic Walter Cronkite.]

From left, Hugo Balta, Zita Arocha, Robert Montemayor and Veronica Villafañe.

Hugo Balta, left, Zita Arocha, Robert Montemayor and Veronica Villafañe.

NAHJ to Honor Arocha, Balta, Villafañe, Montemayor

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists announced four inductees Monday to its Hall of Fame: Zita Arocha, educator, founder of Borderzine and former NAHJ executive director; Hugo Balta, ESPN senior director of multicultural content and NAHJ president from 2012 to 2014; Veronica Villafañe, founder, editor and publisher of and NAHJ president from 2004 to 2006; and the late Robert Montemayor, an educator at Rutgers University, Los Angeles Times reporter, Pulitzer Prize winner and Texas Tech graduate.

Montemayor died in October at 62 after suffering from cancer.

Separately, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists announced the student members who will participate, all expenses paid, in the Student Multimedia Project during the joint 2016 Convention and Career Fair Aug. 1-6 in Washington.

“The students produce both breaking news and long-form multimedia stories, which are featured in the convention’s daily newspaper (print and online), and on a daily newscast. Additionally, the students promote special events, programming, and sponsor-related information on the organization’s social media platforms,” the groups said in their announcement.

Harris-Perry Joins as Editor-at-Large

“I could not be more thrilled to announce that Melissa Harris-Perry has joined as editor-at-large,” Leah Chernikoff, editorial director, announced on Monday.

“In this role, Harris-Perry will focus on the intersection of race, gender, politics, and yes, even fashion, telling the often-overlooked stories of women and girls of color right here on and across ELLE’s social platforms.

“The collaboration builds on Harris-Perry’s experience as professor and founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University, an interdisciplinary center that supports and generates innovative research around gender and race in pursuit of a national dialogue and positive outcomes. She is the former host of Melissa Harris-Perry, which broadcast weekly on MSNBC, and author of the award-winning Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, and Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. . . .”

Daily News Fires Editor Over Missing Attribution

A Daily News editor was fired after the paper found that the editor had edited columns by senior justice writer Shaun King to remove attribution to other news sources,” Peter Sterne and Kelsey Sutton reported Tuesday for

” ‘We have discovered today that over the course of the past few months one of our editors has made a series of egregious and inexplicable errors,’ Daily News executive editor Jim Rich said in a statement. ‘On at least three separate occasions, the editor deleted attribution that made it appear passages from Shaun King’s columns were not properly credited. These mistakes are unacceptable and the editor in question has been fired.’

“Rich did not identify the editor, but CNN Money’s Dylan Byers reported that it was Jotham Sederstrom, the paper’s morning assignment editor for the web. Sederstrom did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“On Tuesday, Daily Beast executive editor Noah Shachtman accused King of plagiarizing two paragraphs from the Daily Beast in his latest column. King and the News blamed the plagiarism on an ‘editor’s error.’ . . . .”

[On Thursday, Sederstrom wrote on that “the controversy  . . .  comes down to two unintentional, albeit inexcusable, instances of sloppy editing on my part and a formatting glitch that until Tuesday I had no idea was systematically stripping out large blocks of indented quotations each time I moved Shaun’s copy from an email to The News’ own Content Management System, or ‘CMS’ as it’s called in media parlance. . . .]

Malcolm Nance, counterterrorism expert and author of a new book on ISIS, tells journalists that declarations by Muslim leaders that "ISIS is the enemy of Islam" had not received enough attention. (Credit: (Sharon Farmer/sfphotoworks)

Malcolm Nance, counterterrorism expert and author of a new book on ISIS, tells journalists that declarations by Muslim leaders that “ISIS is the enemy of Islam” have not received enough attention. (Credit:
Sharon Farmer/sfphotoworks)

Media Faulted for Failing to Separate Muslims, ISIS

The United States is failing to use the most effective way to defeat ISIS — a psychological offensive that exposes the “apocalyptic cult” as distinct from legitimate Muslims and that promotes a bogus ideology, according to Malcolm Nance, an author and longtime intelligence officer who has followed terrorism for more than 34 years.

Nance, now a counterterrorism expert for MSNBC, told 30 people at the Journalists Roundtable in Washington on Tuesday that the news media had failed to emphasize the repudiation of the group by mainstream Muslims, who have bluntly declared that “ISIS is the enemy of Islam.”

Conflating ISIS with Muslims has led to such proposals as Donald Trump’s call in December for banning Muslims from the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

“That man’s crazy,” said Nance, the self-described “troubleshooter for terrorism.” In fact, he said, “This is not a terrorist group, it’s a cult” that “doesn’t believe Islam is valid any more. They step back into the 7th century,” believing they should re-enact battles of that era leading to a clash of civilizations. To them, “all 1.6 billion Muslims are apostates.”

The solution: “Keep the pressure on and get the Muslim world to issue some rulings. We can be the mic.”

In August 2014, Michael Gryboski of the Christian Post reported, “Saudi Arabia’s top religious official has recently denounced the Islamic State terrorist organization, better known as ISIS.

“Following the words of other Muslim leaders, Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh issued a statement Tuesday that was released by the Saudi Press Agency.

” ‘Extremist and militant ideas and terrorism which spread decay on earth, destroying human civilization,’ said al-Sheikh, ‘are not in any way part of Islam, but are enemy number one of Islam, and Muslims are their first victims.”

“The Saudi Grand Mufti’s comments were the latest of several Muslim leaders both religious and secular, from Indonesia to Egypt, condemning the actions and views of ISIS. . . .”

Nance, author of the recently released “Defeating Isis: Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe,” his encyclopedic fourth book, told the journalists, “We allow ISIS to frame the narrative because it’s sexy,” reporting on suicide bombings and the like. “But in doing so, 1.6 billion Muslims’ words are muffled. You need to listen to the Muslims.”

To really get under ISIS members’ skin, call them “Khawarij,” he said, the name of the first Islamic cult and one that the Prophet Muhammad warned about.

After Gray Case, a Minus for National Media

I lost a lot of respect for the national media, while I gained some for local TV,” David Zurawik, television critic for the Baltimore Sun, wrote Friday under the headline, “Hard lessons learned in the year after Gray’s death.”

“I came to realize there are news outlets so ideologically oriented they might be beyond redemption. I still value — more than anything else — presenting audiences with factual information, but I am no longer sure that doing so is doing enough.

“One year after the death of Freddie Gray, these are some of the things I learned from the countless hours of coverage I watched as well as the more than 50 print articles and online posts I reported and wrote since the two citizen videos of Freddie Gray being arrested first tore through the media ecosystem.

“My disappointment with network and cable TV coverage started early in the week of peaceful protests following Gray’s death. Only CNN was in Baltimore with any serious coverage, and that ended when the workday concluded Friday, April 24, and the correspondents and camera crews went home.

“Unfortunately, civil unrest and news don’t work 9-to-5 weekday shifts. When violence broke out in downtown Baltimore late Saturday, April 25, virtually no one from national TV was there to bear witness and share the pictures with the rest of the world. CNN was absorbed in empty-headed coverage of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

“Once rioting started on the afternoon of Gray’s funeral two days later, all the major media outlets came to town, of course, but it didn’t make for better coverage.

“In fact, much of it was worse, especially on Fox News, with correspondents like Geraldo Rivera sizing up residents he saw on the streets and saying: ‘It seems they want trouble.’ . . .”

Story on Catholic Trafficking in Slaves Strikes Chord

A front-page story in the New York Times Sunday about Georgetown University’s ties to slavery has received “dozens and dozens of responses” as the newspaper attempts to locate the descendants of 272 men, women and children who were sold by Jesuit priests to help finance the university.

Rachel Swarns, author of the prominently displayed article, made the statement Tuesday on “The Diane Rehm Show” on Washington’s WAMU-FM, which is transmitted nationally by NPR. “It’s quite staggering and upsetting” for the descendants, Swarns said. “And it’s quite a lot to get a phone call from someone and learn that your ancestors were owned by priests and sold to benefit such a prominent institution.”

On the other hand, she said, because records of black people before the Civil War were poorly kept, “some people are hungry for this information.” The Times is also seeking those related to the priests.

Craig Steven Wilder, author of the 2013 book “Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities,” said on the program that the history of the Jesuit plantations includes whipping pregnant women and “paying very little attention to the spiritual lives of the enslaved.”

Swarns wrote in her story, “Now, with racial protests roiling college campuses, an unusual collection of Georgetown professors, students, alumni and genealogists is trying to find out what happened to those 272 men, women and children. And they are confronting a particularly wrenching question: What, if anything, is owed to the descendants of slaves who were sold to help ensure the college’s survival?

“More than a dozen universities — including Brown, Columbia, Harvard and the University of Virginia — have publicly recognized their ties to slavery and the slave trade. But the 1838 slave sale organized by the Jesuits, who founded and ran Georgetown, stands out for its sheer size, historians say.

“At Georgetown, slavery and scholarship were inextricably linked. The college relied on Jesuit plantations in Maryland to help finance its operations, university officials say. (Slaves were often donated by prosperous parishioners.) And the 1838 sale — worth about $3.3 million in today’s dollars — was organized by two of Georgetown’s early presidents, both Jesuit priests.

“Some of that money helped to pay off the debts of the struggling college.

“ ‘The university itself owes its existence to this history,’ said Adam Rothman, a historian at Georgetown and a member of a university working group that is studying ways for the institution to acknowledge and try to make amends for its tangled roots in slavery.

“Although the working group was established in August, it was student demonstrations at Georgetown in the fall that helped to galvanize alumni and gave new urgency to the administration’s efforts. . . .”

Cuba Thaw Affecting Attitude Toward Journalists

When President Obama made his historic visit to Cuba last month, the US media followed,Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, wrote Tuesday for Columbia Journalism Review. “At a joint press conference on March 21 with Cuban president Raúl Castro, Obama called on CNN’s Jim Acosta, who asked the Cuban leader if he would be willing to release political prisoners. A flustered Castro sputtered and demanded a list of those imprisoned. Obama directed a knowing wink at the assembled journalists.

“Obama’s implication was that by maneuvering to force Castro to respond live in front of the Cuban people and the world, he had bolstered the power of the press.

“Indeed, one of the key goals of Obama’s Havana trip was to create more space for critical expression in a country that until recently was one of world’s most censored.

“Among the 13 dissidents Obama invited to meet with him at the US Embassy in Havana on March 22 were several independent journalists. He insisted that his joint news conference with Castro be broadcast live.

“While it’s too early to assess the overall impact of Obama’s visit, it seems the right moment to ask a more basic question: Has anything changed for journalists on the island in the month since Obama departed?

Miriam Leiva, an independent journalists and blogger who met with Obama, sees the presidential visit as accelerating trends already under way. ‘The Cuban government is losing credibility day after day,’ Leiva noted by phone from Miami, where she was visiting relatives. ‘President Castro made many promises and has not been able to fulfill those promises.’

“Leiva has been a leading voice of independent journalism in Cuba since 2003, when her husband, economist turned journalist Oscar Espinosa Chepe, was arrested as part of a sweeping crackdown known as the Black Spring. Espinosa Chepe was released after two years due to poor health (he died of a liver ailment in 2013). But many of those detained along with him were not freed until 2010, in a deal brokered by the Spanish government and the Cuban Catholic Church.

“By far the favored strategy employed by the Cuban government against dissident journalists has been organized stigmatization and isolation. Independent journalists have been confronted by screaming mobs, denounced in the state media, and relentlessly tracked by state security.

“That is why Leiva is so heartened by the fact that her neighbors now greet her in the street and even occasionally read her stories, which are distributed by email.

” ‘People are now more open, they feel less fear,’ she says. ‘We ourselves have gained spaces.’ . . .”

Al Dia's op-ed contributors.

Al Día’s op-ed contributors


Short Takes

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