President David A. Thomas, a group of faculty members and journalism students represented Morehouse Monday at a Washington D.C. debut for National Geographic magazine’s special edition, “The Race Issue.”
The edition, which explores the politics of race and culture, includes a features story about life at Morehouse College and other Atlanta University Center institutions. Other stories in “The Race Issue” include “The Stop,” which explores traffic stops by police and their place as a flash point in the debate over race; and “Colors of Matrimony,” which discusses the growing acceptance of interracial marriage in New York City.
President Thomas, Ron Thomas, director of the Journalism and Sports Program, Professor David Dennis, Associate Provost David Wall Rice ‘95, and seven men of Morehouse attended the celebration as special guests of National Geographic. The event was held at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“I thought it was a fantastic event,” Thomas said. “I really appreciated the way in which they raised very important and, quite frankly, difficult issues to discuss related to race in the United States.”
The story on AUC institutions “A Place of Their Own” was written by Clint Smith with photos by Nina Robinson and Radcliffe “Ruddy” Roye. Roye spent nearly a year at Morehouse working on the project. Some of his work was displayed at the museum for Monday’s event.
The article discusses rising activism and increased enrollment among HBCUs.
“The Race Issue” has already amassed more than 200 million online views. Officials at National Geographic say they have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback. The issue is part of the magazine’s commitment to increasing their coverage on diversity in America. The print edition is available on newsstands.
President Thomas was pleased by the way that National Geographic handled the discussion and envisions Morehouse as the epicenter of advancing the conversation of race.
“We’ve already started a discussion among faculty at Morehouse about how we shape more of the discussion of race and the experience of black men in America,” he said. “There was an article that came out in the New York Times last week that said if you are born rich and black, your chances of remaining rich and black going into adulthood are less than your chances of becoming working poor. And that’s scary, and we want to enter that discussion because we think that Morehouse is one of the answers to that set of problems.”
Earlier in the day, Professors Ron Thomas and Dennis joined journalism students at ESPN’s The Undefeated, an online magazine that focuses on sports, race, culture, and HBCUs. They spoke with Editor-in-Chief Kevin Merida and other staff members, participated in a workshop about effectively interviewing celebrities, and offered story ideas during a daily planning meeting.
Writers from The Undefeated emphasized building a rapport with their subjects because the job often entails establishing intimacy with people who live very closely guarded lives. In addition, they stressed the importance of taking every opportunity that comes one’s way and making sure to meet people in the journalism field.
Austyn Wyche, a psychology major who is a photographer for the Maroon Tiger, said the event left a favorable impression on him that allowed him to see things from a different perspective.
Other representatives of the journalism program in attendance included: Tyler Mitchell, Jair Hilburn, James Jones, and Roderick Diamond II.
“My experience today was great,” Wyche said. “It was different being submerged in this kind of environment and being able to learn things outside of my discipline. This gave me a new outlook on creating narratives and it was a good networking opportunity to reach out to people in the field, and to be able to share my work and ideas with great thinkers.”