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Weekend Reads: “Trailblazer”

Trailblazer: A Pioneering Journalist's Fight to Make the Media Look More Like AmericaTrailblazer: A Pioneering Journalist’s Fight to Make the Media Look More Like America by Dorothy Butler Gilliam

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am always surprised when I read about a “first” these days … first black female neurosurgeon candidate was the most recent (never mind that we’re so far from parity/equality that it’s absurd that these things still happen).

Dorothy Butler Gilliam was also a “first” – the first black female reporter at the Washington Post. Having come from covering the Little Rock Nine for one of the country’s leading black newspapers, she brought with her a level of experience and talent that could not be ignored by the managing editor.

In her memoir, Gilliam describes her work in the civil rights movement, in working to make journalism a more welcoming place for people of color and thus increase its diversity, and her struggles to report on her culture in a way that gave enlightenment rather than reinforcing stereotypes.

Given Gilliam’s experience as a journalist, it is no surprise that the book is well-written, well-sourced, and intelligent. Gilliam’s authorial voice is frank and direct. Getting a look into the newsroom, as well as life for people of color during both Jim Crow (Gilliam grew up in the segregated South) and the civil rights movement gives an immensely useful perspective.

Highly recommended.

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