Turning a New Page In History
I vividly recall the spring day nearly four years ago, when then executive editor of Black Issues In Higher Education, Karin Chenoweth, called looking for someone to write an article about retirement plans. At the time, I was new to Washington, D.C., and working as a freelance journalist. Though I had never heard of the magazine, the story intrigued me, so I accepted the assignment. I could not have anticipated the adventure that would ensue.
Not two years later, Karin resigned as editor and I was asked to succeed her. Though I had spent my early career preparing for just such an opportunity, when it finally came, I feared I wasn’t ready. The enthusiastic support of publishers Frank Matthews and William Cox eventually persuaded me to give it a try.
Throughout my tenure at Black Issues I have worked to make this award winning magazine an even more dynamic, colorful and informative news resource than it was before my arrival. In the process, I have visited campuses all over this vast nation, meeting scores of dedicated students, professors, administrators and staff members. In working with Black Issues’ talented editorial team I’ve had the opportunity to bring you coverage about issues such as Proposition 209’s blunting effect on affirmative action, Harvard’s department of Afro-American studies, NAFEO’s struggle to remain relevant,the comings and goings of Black college presidents, Bill Gray’s reign over The United Negro College Fund, and the transforming influence of technology on our campuses, to name a few.
Last year, I spent the first 11 hours of my 40th birthday concluding an all-nighter in the office as we raced to meet the deadline for the Top 100 edition. I hated having to work through the night, but knowing how important the information we were compiling was to the thousands who read this publication every other week kept me going. After all, I got into magazine journalism as a form of activism. I was tired of subscribing to publications that regularly ignored the views, concerns and news interests of people like me. I wanted people of color to see themselves in magazines and I wanted White readers to understand that theirs isn’t the only experience that matters. Being in a position to penetrate the public’s consciousness and to influence public policy with stories that convey truths often overlooked by the mainstream press is an opportunity this job has allowed me to pursue with vigor. And while I have thoroughly enjoyed the adventure, the time has come to accept a new challenge.
By the time you read this, I will already have transitioned into my new role as a consultant to Black Issues and as a senior associate with Langhum Mitchell Communications, a Washington, D.C.-based public affairs firm. While the decision to leave the executive editorship was difficult to make, I am comforted by the knowledge that my successor, Jamilah Evelyn, is a bright and skilled journalist who is more than capable of picking up the mantle and maintaining the standards that Black Issues has set.
In closing, I must thank my colleagues for their ingenuity, friendship and phenomenal dedication. I thank Frank Mtthews and Bill Cox, not only for granting me this awesome opportunity, but for understanding my need to grow in a new direction.
Most especially, I thank you — the readers — for allowing me to play a modest role in your courageous efforts to transform higher education. Though we didn’t plan it this way, it is fitting that my final edition as editor falls during Black History Month. It has been my privilege to help record the history that all of you are making. Though my role now changes, I remain committed to ensuring that your needs are not overlooked and that your contributions do not go unnoticed.
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