Better Late Than Never!

It is Black History Month, readers, or it was. This year all of my best intentions to express some form of racial pride and civic awareness flew out the window, do you hear me? Although this is the 28th, which means Black History Month is gasping its last breath, I still want to give my two cents and talk about a couple of high-achieving Blacks whom you might want to remember.

How do you spell s-u-c-c-e-s-s?

Jody-Anne Maxwell. This young lady is from Kingston, Jamaica, the island where both my parents were born. At 12 years old, in 1998, Miss Maxwell won the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She became the first—and only—Black competitor to win the honor. Thirteen years later, Maxwell is a practicing attorney in Jamaica, a national hero for her country and a living piece of Black history. I was a general assignment reporter at my city’s newspaper when Miss Maxwell won that competition, and I was on shift the morning that the winners were announced in the paper. Unfortunately, our newspaper decided to run a photo of the local competitor, a young Caucasian girl. One of the readers, who happened to be an old friend of my mother’s, was livid when she saw the paper. She called up, and who should answer but little old me? I knew she was right: the logic of running the losing competitor’s photo, and none at all of the winner, did not stick. In previous years, the winners had been pictured. I was so embarrassed that my editors have committed such an obvious slight. In the future, I hope they decided to run a normal size photo of the winner and a small one of the local competitor.

A little hyberbole anyone?

Roi Ottley. He was a foreign correspondent, journalist and best-selling author of “New World A-Coming: Inside Black America.” He had a seriously accomplished career. Ottley was the first African-American journalist to be employed as a working war correspondent for a nationally known magazine and a major white daily newspaper. He later became a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and broadcasted reports for both the Columbia Broadcasting System and the British Broadcasting System. In 1943, he served as publicity director for the National CIO War Relief Committee. Of course, I had to try to highlight a writer! Read more about Ottley at:


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