By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
Dr. Jesse J. Lewis Sr., founder and publisher emeritus of The Birmingham Times, will be inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Hall of Fame during the organization’s national conference and job fair which will take place in Birmingham from Aug. 2-6.
Lewis, a World War II veteran, is chairman of Agency 54. He made history as the first Black Alabama Cabinet Member and the founder of the country’s first Black-owned PR and advertising agency in 1954. In 1964, he founded The Birmingham Times just after the height of the Civil Rights struggle in Birmingham. He has owned or been part of at least 17 different businesses over the course of his career.
The Hall of Fame Induction and Luncheon, powered by Hope Credit Union and Coca-Cola Bottling United, will take place during the 2023 NABJ Convention & Career Fair on Friday, Aug. 4, at Noon CDT in Birmingham.
Additionally, Roy S. Johnson, a Birmingham columnist and director of content development for AL.com, has been named among the seven Hall of Fame inductees.
Johnson, one of this year’s NABJ convention co-chairs, writes on issues, people, policies and trends affecting residents across the state of Alabama and beyond. He is a winner of the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Award for best national podcast and is a 2021 Pulitzer Prize finalist in Commentary. He was Editor-in-Chief of three prominent national magazines: Savoy, which he founded, as well as Men’s Fitness and History Channel.
NABJ’s Hall of Fame pays homage to legendary Black journalists and communicators who have made outstanding contributions to the industry.
NABJ President Dorothy Tucker said the organization is excited to honor these important individuals.
“As we gather for our annual convention, in a place that shines as a beacon of light in the fight for justice and equality, NABJ is excited to recognize some of the most courageous barrier breakers and history makers in the journalism and media industries,” Tucker said.
The rest of the inductees are as follows:
Sheila Dean Brooks, Ph.D.
Brooks is an accomplished entrepreneur, author, Emmy-award-winning journalist, and expert in multicultural marketing, energy and utilities, public health communications, and entrepreneurial education. Brooks, Founder, President and CEO of SRB Communications, has more than four decades of trailblazing leadership in media and communications in Washington, D.C. She is the founder of NABJ’s Student Multimedia Projects and previously received NABJ’s Ida B. Wells Award.
Parker is a pioneer in sports journalism. In his 37-year career, Parker has both broken barriers and reached back to lift up younger sports writers coming behind him. Parker was named the NABJ Sports Task Force Journalist of the Year in 2018. Currently, Parker is Co-host of a nightly national show with Chris Broussard called “The Odd Couple” on FOX Sports Radio. He is an Analyst for MLB Network and Founder and Editor of MLBbro.com.
Pinkston has been a witness to some of broadcast journalism’s key moments in history. During his four decades as a working journalist, Pinkston was a White House Correspondent covering President George Herbert Walker Bush. He was one of the first journalists in Tora Bora Afghanistan reporting on the search for Osama bin Laden. Two years later, Pinkston volunteered for service in Iraq and was in Baghdad when Saddam Hussein was executed. In Haiti, he reported on the effort to return Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power. As an Adjunct Professor, Pinkston has shared his experience with future journalists at Columbia University, Morgan State University and many more.
Roberts is Head of NBA and Studio Production at ESPN, leading ESPN’s NBA and WNBA production. Roberts oversees production for all regular-season and playoff games, punctuated by the NBA and WNBA Finals, as well as studio content including NBA Countdown and NBA Today. He also leads production for First Take, the 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter, Get Up, PTI, Around The Horn, This Just In, ESPN Audio content, and ESPN digital shows. In 2020, he was named to the Cablefax Diversity List, recognizing the most influential diverse executives in the industry.
Tolbart is an Emmy-award-winning television broadcaster. She is a Weather Anchor and Feature Reporter at WTTG FOX5DC in Washington, D.C., where she has impacted the community and told powerful stories for the last 21 years. Her career began in her hometown of Montreal, Quebec as host of the Black Community Communications Media’s show, “Black Is.” A trailblazer, she was the first African Canadian Weather Anchor on both Canada’s national “The Weather Network” and Montreal’s CTV’s CFCF-12.
On Thursday, the NABJ also announced its Special Honors recipients and finalists. NABJ’s Special Honors recognizes the groundbreaking accomplishments of individuals, organizations or companies that support the Black community in news and media.
Special Honors recipients and finalists will be recognized during the Luncheon, as well as the Convention’s Opening Ceremony, powered by Shipt, on Wednesday, Aug. 2 at 6 p.m., and during the Salute to Excellence Awards Gala, powered by Walmart, on Saturday, Aug. 5 at 6 p.m.
Tickets for these events can be purchased by registered convention attendees at NABJConvention.com.
Special Honors Recipients & Finalists are below:
Journalist of the Year: Jim Trotter
Trotter is a National Columnist for The Athletic. He spent nearly three decades doggedly covering the National Football League for NFL Media, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and The San Diego Union-Tribune. He is the 2023 winner of the Bill Nunn Jr. Award and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. In 2021, he was named Journalist of the Year by the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches and is a former president of Pro Football Writers of America.
Journalist of Distinction: Jamie Nesbitt Golden
Nesbitt Golden is an award-winning journalist and a Reporter with Block Club Chicago, where she has covered everything from dancing crossing guards to city council races. Her work has also appeared in TIME, Salon, EBONY, and xoJane.
Chuck Stone Lifetime Achievement Award: Marquita Pool-Eckert
Pool-Eckert’s career at CBS News included serving as a Senior Producer for the award-winning CBS News Sunday Morning, making her the first Black woman in a senior producer position at CBS News. She became the first Black woman Producer for CBS Evening News and the first Black woman Associate Producer at CBS Morning News in 1975. She won 11 National Emmys.
Ida B. Wells Award: Monica R. Richardson
Richardson is Vice President of Local News for McClatchy, overseeing content operations for the company’s largest news markets. Before this role, Richardson served as the Pulitzer-prize-winning Executive Editor of the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald, and McClatchy’s Regional Florida Editor. She made history when she became the first Black editor in the Herald’s 118-year history.
Legacy Award: Michelle Singletary
Singletary is a Personal Finance Columnist for The Washington Post. Her award-winning column, “The Color of Money” appears twice a week in dozens of newspapers across the country. She is the recipient of the 2022 Gerald Loeb Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2021, she won a prestigious Gerald Loeb Award and in 2020, The Washington Post celebrated her long and distinguished career with the Eugene Meyer Award, its highest journalistic honor.
Percy Qoboza Foreign Journalist of the Year: Marcus Ryder
Ryder, an award-winning journalist for nearly three decades, has prompted direct change in the policies of governments and broadcasters. He is the Co-founder of the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, Chair of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and one of Variety’s 500 most influential leaders shaping the global media industry in 2023.
Michael J. Feeney Emerging Journalist of the Year: Troy Closson
Closson is a Reporter on the Metro Desk at The New York Times covering education. Since joining The Times in 2020 as a member of the fellowship program, he has written about school segregation, wrongful convictions, gun violence, federal courts, and the NYPD. He spent three weeks in Buffalo last year covering the massacre at a supermarket that killed 10 Black people. He won the New York Press Club’s Nellie Bly Award in 2022.
Student Journalist of the Year: Jordan D. Brown
Brown is a recent graduate of Morgan State University, where she was co-valedictorian and earned a bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism. In the fall, she will pursue a master’s degree in journalism at New York University on a full tuition NABJ scholarship. She served as Editor-in-Chief of her university’s student newspaper, The Spokesman, and as Vice President of the university’s NABJ chapter. She is currently a reporting intern at the Baltimore Sun.
Journalism Educator of the Year: Jayme Bradford Kinard (Posthumous)
Bradford Kinard was an Assistant Professor of English at historically Black Allen University in Columbia, S.C. She taught English, journalism, public speaking, and professional writing. Professor Bradford Kinard served as adviser of the Allen University Journalism Club and the SPEAK Ambassadors. She participated in the Journalism Educators Academy at the University of Oregon and was selected to be a UNCF Teaching and Learning Fellow. In 2018, she served as a Fulbright-Hays Fellow at the University of Ghana.
Best Practices Award: Scalawag
Scalawag is a Black-led and centering, digital-first abolitionist media organization that works in solidarity with oppressed communities and movements in the South to disrupt and shift the narratives that keep power in the hands of the few.
Angelo B. Henderson Community Service Award: Tonya Rivens
Rivens is an award-winning journalist with over 30 years in radio, 10 years in television and is a freelance feature writer/reporter. She is Founder/Executive Director of the Ausie and Martin Rivens Scholarship Foundation, which hosts Praise in the Park, a breast cancer awareness luncheon, conflict resolution workshops, food outreach events, and programs with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Her foundation also partnered with UPS to donate $20,000 in Chromebooks to underserved students.
Patricia L. Tobin Media Professional Award: The National Black Public Relations Society, Inc. (NBPRS) – Founders: Randye Bullock, Meta Mereday, Patricia Tobin
NBPRS was born out of NABJ’s former PR & Marketing Task Force headed by Pat Tobin and Randye Bullock. Bridging the gap for top PR professionals and journalists, Meta J. Mereday rounded out the team by helping to structure and formalize NBPRS. The first meeting was held at NABJ’s 1998 D.C. Convention. NBPRS addresses the needs of the global society by helping to prepare diverse PR professionals in public relations, public affairs, communications, media relations, and community and government affairs.
NABJ Chapter of the Year Finalists: The New York Association of Black Journalists (NYABJ) and Washington Association of Black Journalists (WABJ)
Founded in 1976, NYABJ has blazed new trails, starting a podcast with over 20 episodes that publish every other week and has offered a mix of over 50 panels/programs both in person and virtual. NYABJ upholds a legacy of providing continual education, professional mentoring and moral support to its members.
Founded in 1975, WABJ offers innovative year-round professional development programming to its members. In addition, the volunteer-led organization hosts networking events, and advocates for diversity, equity and inclusion at local media companies and accurate news coverage of issues impacting the Black community in the region.
The President’s Award, Student Chapter of the Year and annual Thumbs Down Award will be announced during the convention.