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News and Newsmakers December 1, 2021

Posted by Mia Moody-Ramirez in : Uncategorized , trackback

By Morgan Carter

The Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media is excited to showcase the following individuals in its 2021 “News and Newsmakers” exhibit: James Baldwin, Nellie Bly, Cesar Chavez, Sandra Cisneros, Wilson Fielder, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  and Ida B. Wells. These are notable history makers who led or documented important social movements. They include journalists, poets, activists and historians who made an important mark on society.

James Baldwin

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

James Baldwin was the oldest of nine children, born in Harlem in 1924. Although he had a strained relationship with his stepfather, Baldwin followed his footsteps and became a preacher throughout his early years. This experience pushed him to become a writer and influenced his work, which can be seen in the biblical language and tone throughout his writing. Baldwin’s literary successes are mostly credited to the fellowships he participated in. After befriending Richard Wright, a popular writer at the time, he was able to move to Paris at the age of 24 and begin his literary career.

Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953) was Baldwin’s first published novel, highlighting his time spent in Harlem and tackling issues such as parental relationships and religion. During that period of his life, his work primarily covered what was known then as controversial/taboo topics, such as homosexuality, interracial relationships, and racism. James Baldwin was a writer of variety, as he produced works in the forms of novels, playwrights, and essays. However, his essays are the basis of discussion when many refer to him as the top writer of his time.

Mirroring his own life, he speaks on the Black experience in America, seen in his most popular essays Notes of a Native Son (1955) and Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son (1961). These works helped Baldwin arise as one of the prominent voices within the Civil Rights Movement. The Fire of Next Time (1963), was a critical collection of essays that was used as a way of educating White Americans on what it meant to be Black, offering a chance for readers to step into the shoes of others. As a result of the essay’s success, James Baldwin was featured on the cover of TIMES Magazine.

After the Civil Rights Era and the death of influential leaders who were also his friends, such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers, Baldwin returned to France where he continued to write. His most notable book, If Beale Street Could Talk (1974) was later adapted into a film in 2018, focusing on the harsh reality of the times. James Baldwin died in 1987 at the age of 63 from stomach cancer.

His work lives on through his extensive and thought-provoking literary efforts that have been referenced through scholars and classrooms alike. Directed by Raoul Peck, the documentary I Am Not Your Negro (2016) aired, focusing on the novel James Baldwin never finished to explore a fresh perspective between the current racial tensions in America and the problematic climate Baldwin experienced.


Nellie Bly

“Energy rightly applied can accomplish anything.”

Elizabeth Jane Cochran, also known as Nellie Bly, was born in Pennsylvania in 1864 and was no stranger to letting her voice be heard. Bly began her journalism career at the age of 18, where she submitted a provoking response to an editorial piece in the Pittsburg Dispatch, combatting the stated claims that women were best for domestic duties and working women were monstrosities. Her fierce rebuttal landed her a position with the paper, where she started her journalism career as a reporter.

Her work highlights the importance of women’s rights and equality, seen in her undercover work where she posed as a sweatshop worker to expose poor working conditions faced by women. Feeling limited at the Pittsburg Dispatch, Bly relocated to New York City and began working for the New York World, notorious for kicking off ‘yellow journalism’. Comfortable with risk-taking, Bly was prominently known for her passion in investigative journalism.

One of the assignments that fueled her journalistic career was her expose focusing on the experiences of patients within the mental health facility on Blackwell’s Island (now known as Roosevelt’s Island) in NYC, titled Ten Days in a Mad House (1887), which was later formatted into a book. Bly pretended to be mentally unstable to gain entry to the asylum, where she resided there for ten days. Her work shed light on numerous red flags, prompting a large-scale investigation that led the city of New York to implement new changes and procedures for the Department of Public Charities and Corrections.

Bly retired journalism relatively early, becoming the wife of a millionaire. In 1903, her husband passed, leaving a large manufacturing company in her hands. This inheritance caused her to patent several inventions related to oil manufacturing, where some are still used today. Before she passed from pneumonia in 1922, Nellie Bly returned to journalism, covering World War I and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, where she interviewed prominent figures such as Susan B. Anthony and Emma Goldman.


Cesar Chavez

“We draw our strength from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We shall endure.

Cesar Chavez, born in 1927 near Yuma, Arizona, was known as a leader for farm labor, Latino, and civil rights. At the age of 11, Chavez and his family lost their farm due to the Great Depression. Completing his education in the eighth grade, Chavez worked alongside his family as migrant farm workers, to help support full-time. While laboring throughout his youth and early adulthood life, he was exposed to the injustices farm workers experienced when he moved to California, which influenced the next stage of his life.

The Community Service Organization (CSO), one of the most influential Latino civil rights groups of its time, molded Chavez’s passion for community organization. Chavez worked with the group for ten years, aiding with voter registration and the ongoing battle racial and economic discrimination in California. In 1962, Cesar Chavez left CSO and started the National Farm Workers Association (which later became the United Farmworkers of America) alongside his wife and eight children. This spearheaded a positive shift for farmworkers, as the UFW was the first successful farm worker union in American history.

Chavez lived a humble life advocating for equal rights for farm workers. After turning down an offer to serve as the head of the Peace Corps of Latin America by President Kennedy, he lived a life of self-inflicted poverty causing him to make no more than $6,000 a year throughout his lifetime. Although he lived in voluntary poverty until the late 1990s, he established notable achievements for farm workers including the creation of the first credit union for farmworkers, job-training programs such as the Fred Ross Education Institute, affordable housing and homeownership communities for workers, and the creation of the Radio Campesina network, a 13-station educational and Spanish-oriented farm worker radio station.

Cesar Chavez’s union strategies were mostly adopted for organized labor, as he was known for his pledge to nonviolence efforts. Senator Robert Kennedy called Chavez ‘one of the heroic figures of our time’ due to his diligence too fast for nonviolence and progression on union issues, which grabbed the attention of the public. As result of his leadership in boycotts and strikes, the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975 was passed in California, establishing the only law that allows farm workers the right to organize, choose their own union representative, and negotiate with their employers. Cesar Chavez passed in 1993 in San Louis, Arizona, yet his effort lives on. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by former President Clinton in 1994.


Sandra Cisneros

“We do this because the world we live in is a house on fire and the people we love are burning.”

Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in 1954, the third child and only daughter in a family of seven children. I studied at Loyola University of Chicago (B.A. English, 1976) and the University of Iowa (M.F.A. Creative Writing, 1978).

She is a poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, performer, and artist whose work explores the lives of the working-class.  She worked as a teacher and counselor to high-school dropouts, as an artist-in-the-schools where she taught creative writing at every level except first grade and pre-school, a college recruiter, an arts administrator, and as a visiting writer at a number of universities including the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Her numerous awards include NEA fellowships in both poetry and fiction, the Texas Medal of the Arts, a MacArthur Fellowship, several honorary doctorates and national and international book awards, including Chicago’s Fifth Star Award, the PEN Center USA Literary Award, and the National Medal of the Arts award presented to her by President Obama in 2016. She received the Ford Foundation’s Art of Change Fellowship, was recognized among The Frederick Douglass 200, and won the PEN/Nabokov Award for international literature.

In addition to her writing, Cisneros has fostered the careers of many aspiring and emerging writers through two non-profits she founded: the Macondo Foundation and the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation. She is also the organizer of Los MacArturos, Latino MacArthur fellows who are community activists. Her literary papers are preserved in Texas at the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University.

Her classic, coming-of-age novel, The House on Mango Street, has sold over six million copies, has been translated into twenty-five languages, and is required reading in elementary, high school, and universities across the nation.  Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories was awarded the PEN Center West Award for Best Fiction of l99l, the Quality Paperback Book Club New Voices Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Lannan Foundation Literary Award, and was selected as a noteworthy book of the year by The New York Times and The American Library Journal, and nominated Best Book of Fiction for l99l by The Los Angeles Times.


Sandra Cisneros Website https://www.sandracisneros.com/


Wilson Fielder

There isn’t a box that could contain the stories of the lives of people Wilson Fielder Jr. touched. The Times reporter, who was killed during the Korean War, had a hunger for journalism.

“In a day where journalists are reviled by some, dismissed by others, Wilson Fielder’s joy and passion for his sacred craft is best epitomized in the generations of journalists who followed him, forever running towards the sounds of battle, the fires in the tallest towers and the often equally dangerous whispers in the back rooms of the halls of power,” Bob Darden said in “Wilson Fielder’s Last Assignment.”

He was born on 1917 July 28th, the first of five children, for Baptist missionaries John Wilson Fielder Sr. and Maudie Ethel Albritton in a hospital in Kaifeng, China. In 1936, Fielder left his family to spend time traveling around Europe, ending up in Waco where he enrolled at Baylor University to pursue a degree in journalism.

By 1939, Fielder had become the editor of the Baylor Lariat, while also working for the Waco-Tribune Herald. Fielder graduated Baylor in 1940 and began to work for the Corpus Christi Caller Times. Fielder entered the Marine Officer’s Cadet School at Quantico in 1942 to prepare to fight in World War II. Wilson then was hired by the Times in 1949, where he joined their bureau in China, covering the defeat of the Chinese Nationalist Forces. When the North Korean army invaded the southern half of the peninsula in 1950, Fielder became Time’s correspondent and headed to where fighting was heaviest, the Taejon Front. It was here where the 1st Battalion of the 24th infantry division was attempting to hold the North Korean advance. It also became Fielder’s last known location before he went missing in action during the fighting.

It took more than two years for Virginia and the Fielders to learn of their son and husband’s death. When Fielder’s body was finally recovered, the 33-year-old man was buried in a graveyard for Westerners outside of Yokohama, Japan, on 1952 March 11th. In Fielder’s memory, a scholarship was established to support students of journalism at Baylor University. Darden stated Wilson Fielder scholarship recipients have  exemplified so many of the best traits of Fielder.

“A restless thirst for truth, even if that meant putting themselves in harm’s way,” he said.
Darden added that the scholarship exemplifies curiosity, and that journalism certainly doesn’t come without its challenges. He said being a good reporter means not taking stories at their face value and sometimes getting in trouble more than the average reporter, yet this also means getting in trouble for the right reasons.



Sharon K. Herbaugh

Sharon K. Herbaugh was born in Lamar, Colorado on January 28, 1954, where she resided until she moved away to attend college at Baylor University. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Baylor, where she also served as the editor of the Lariat.

The Baylor alumna began working for the Associate Press in 1978, starting off as a vacation relief staffer in Colorado before her first international assignment in 1988, where she worked as a news editor in New Delhi, India.

Known for her coverage of political and social matters in Afghanistan, she continued her work until her death, where she became the first female bureau chief to be killed while on assignment for the Associate Press.

Herbaugh kept her personal life hidden from the outside world. She had one daughter in 1980, but to avoid interfering with her career, she sent her to live with her parents. Herbaugh paid her final visit to home in 1989 and on April 16, 1993,  Herbaugh was killed in a fatal plane crash in Afghanistan.


Martin Luther King Jr.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., most notably known for his role within the Civil Rights Movement and his speeches tackled to face racial injustices and equality, was born in 1929 in Atlanta, GA. Developing his public speaking skills early, King followed the footsteps of his father and grandfather where he attended Morehouse College, an all-male HBCU, and obtained his bachelor’s degree in sociology. He later enrolled in seminary school and pursued his doctoral degree in theology at Boston University, where he met his wife, Coretta.

After the completion of his degree, he moved to Alabama where his career in activism began. King played a monumental role in the progression of civil rights, seen in his leadership of the bus boycott movement alongside Rosa Parks. King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with other Black church leaders in the south, which focused on nonviolent efforts against Jim Crow laws. His nonviolent practices and consistent protests led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, game-changers for racial equality in America.

One of his most famous protests started in 1963 focusing on desegregation of public places through nonviolent sit-ins led by King. The harsh media coverage and unfair treatment of the protestors led to the infamous resignation of Birmingham police chief Bull Conner and the desegregation of public places within the city. King’s most legendary letter, Letter from Birmingham Jail, was the birthplace of one of his famously known quotes, ‘…injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’

Working along the SCLC and NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), King organized the March on Washington for the civil and economic rights of Black Americans, where he gave his highly referenced, I Have a Dream (1963) speech. Dr. King was assassinated in Tennessee in 1968, yet his impact lives on throughout the lives of many. His role as an activist, speaker, and fighter of injustice paved the way for much of the equality that is seen today. In addition to becoming the youngest (35) to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, King was also awarded the NAACP Medal, the American Liberties Medallion, Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom as well as his own holiday, which is celebrated the third Monday of January each year.


Lisa Ling

“There’s so much grey to every story— nothing is so black and white.”

Lisa Ling

At the age of 21, Lisa Ling got her start in journalism as a correspondent for Channel One News where she covered the Civil War in Afghanistan. She later became a co-host on The View, an ABC Daytime Show, where she won her first daytime Emmy.

Ling uncovers stories that are often neglected and hidden from dozens of countries, such as the bride burning in India and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, amongst others. Operating in various roles, Ling worked as a special correspondent for CNN’s Planet in Peril, a field correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show and a contributor to Nightline and National Geographic’s Explorer. In 2011, her acclaimed documentary series, Our America with Lisa Ling, began airing on OWN.

Currently,  Ling is the host and executive producer of the CNN Original Series, This is Life with Lisa Ling. With each episode, she immerses herself within communities across America, giving viewers a different perspective and inside look at some of the most unconventional segments of society. In 2017, the series won a Gracie Award. She is also the host of the CNN Digital Series This is Sex with Lisa Ling, and This is Birth with Lisa Ling.


CNN. “Lisa Ling.” CNN, n.d, https://www.cnn.com/profiles/lisa-ling-profile#about.

Ida B. Wells

“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.

Ida B. Wells, born in 1862 in Missouri, was known for her role in activism and journalism throughout the 19th and 20th century. Entering the role of motherhood early, Wells became the sole caretaker of her brothers and sister after Yellow Fever took the life of her parents and younger brother. Wells then moved to Memphis to support her family as an educator.

In 1892, Ida B. Wells published her first expose which focused on the lynching of African American men. Wells then relocated to Chicago due to the brutal threats that followed the literary release. Wells activist stance focused on the betterment of African Americans and women’s rights. However, her most notable advancements focus on the anti-lynching campaign, seen in her publication A Red Record (1893). Wells established the National Association of Colored Women in 1896 and was one of founding members of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Leaving behind a monumental legacy within the social and political realm, Wells died of kidney disease in 1931 in Chicago.



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