MonthAugust 2014

James and Mike Brown Taught Me…

jamesLast weekend I went to see “Get on Up,” the biopic that chronicled the life of James Brown and his career. I thought the movie did a great job of summing up The Godfather of Soul’s colorful life and career and depicting the racism Brown encountered. However, Demetria Mosley, a student I met at NABJ, left the movie theater questioning why a white director, Tate Taylor, was chosen to tell a black story.

“They [white people] know of the inequalities and hardships that black people faced, but can they really relate and understand how it feels,“ wrote Mosley in a movie review for The Monitor .

After reading Mosley’s review, I began to contemplate the decision that was made to remove Spike Lee, the original writer and producer of the James Brown movie, and to replace him with Taylor (bull shit reason for replacement). I questioned if having a black director would have drastically changed the way James Brown’s story was told on the big screen.

This question lay tucked away in my subconscious until it resurfaced at a Mike Brown rally I attended in Raleigh on Sunday, August 17.

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Rally speaker referred to in the left text.

“Who controls the black image?” asked a rally speaker to a crowd of about 75 people.

“The media!” yelled the crowd.

“And who controls the media?” asked the speaker.

“White people!” the crowd responded.

And then it hit me. Now I knew why it was so important to Mosley to have a black writer and producer direct James Brown’s biopic. It was about black people having control over our image and telling our story, because who can tell our story better than us?

Victor Tremell, writer for Black Blue Dog, put it perfectly when he wrote:

“Many blacks will probably cry the foul of racism over Brian Grazer’s decision to fire Spike Lee from the job he was given to help tell a black man’s story. However, until more wealthy black people open up more of their own big time movie production studios, they will always be under the thumb of their white counterparts in Hollywood.”

Until black people pull our resources to create black owned media, we will forever be stuck hoping someone funds our projects or retweets and shares our Twitter and Facebook rants. But change is going to require more than a revolutionary hashtag gone viral.

Left to Right: Hardy Copeland,
Alegro Godley, Dequan Bradley
Front: Angel Currie

Take for example the organizers of the rally on Sunday. Angel Currie, one of the organizers of the rally, said she met Dequan Bradley, another rally organizer, on twitter. She saw his tweet about wanting to show support for the people in Ferguson and replied to his tweet saying she wanted to help. This was on a Thursday night. Three days and a couple of introductions later, Currie and Bradley, along with Hardy Copeland and Alezro Godley, planned a successful rally in downtown Raleigh that received media coverage by several news outlets.

I preach a lot  about minorities creating their own voice, and I admire how one passionate tweet, transpired into the planning and implementation of a rally. Sunday’s rally organizers didn’t just send a tweet, they acted, and I challenge my generation to not just create a voice on social media, but to be a part of a story that can proudly be voiced.

What James and Mike Brown taught me:

photo 4

 “RACISM is more than just hate, it’s a complex system of social and political levers set up, and is a cultural DISEASE.”

Want to follow Angel Currie’s new movement?
Twitter: @AngelCurrieNC
IG: @AngelCurrieNC


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This year, I attended the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) annual convention in Boston, MA. While there, I worked on NABJ’s Student  Multimedia Projects. This one week fellowship is an all-expense paid, newsroom crash course experience. During this time,  I helped produce, The Monitor, the daily publication that covers the NABJ convention. As a team member on the graphics desk, I helped design the graphics and layout for the paper.

In the course of a week, I learned more about layout and design then I could ever learn in a semester–long course. The best part was having the opportunity to work along side established professionals like Ken McFarlin, Art Director at the New York Times.

The 2014 Student Projects graphic design team.

The 2014 Student Projects graphic design team.

As I reflect on this year’s experience at NABJ, I realize how blessed I am to have had this experience. As a young black professional attempting to navigate a white-dominated media industry, it is refreshing to produce a newspaper that covers news from a black perspective. It is empowering to see a publication reporting on news that affects the black community and  features black people running an organization and convening to perfect their craft.

NABJ has truly been inspirational to me, so I was curious to see how it has affected others. Here’s what some NABJ members at the conference had to say when asked “Why NABJ?”

Teniko Hassell (Student)


“NABJ represents a progression of black intellectuals in the Journalism field.”

Hassell, who recently graduated from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, worked on the Student Multimedia Projects graphics desk with me. This year was his first NABJ convention. Hassell said he was impressed by the amount of resources provided to the  Student Multimedia Projects team.

“NABJ spared no expense to take care of its students,” Hassell said, referring to the all expense paid convention trip the student projects staff members received, the 40 plus computers that decked out the newsroom,  and our personal Apple IT team that was available during business hours.


Ken McFarlin (Student Projects Leader)Ken_McFarlin

“I see NABJ as a union that allows the collective voice of black journalists to be heard.”

McFarlin, who is currently the Art Director for the New York Times, was the Student Multimedia Projects leader for the graphic design desk. He has been a part of NABJ for more than 30 years. When asked to recall his first NABJ experience, McFarlin said he was amazed and impressed by the sheer number of black journalists who attended the convention and the quality of the workshops.


Paris Alston (Student)paris

“NABJ is the one organization in this country that brings together all black journalists.”

Alston, a raising junior at UNC Chapel Hill and first time convention attendee, said after hearing her peers in Carolina Association of Black Journalists (CABJ) talk about how life changing the NABJ convention is,  she had to see what the hype was about. Once she attended the NABJ convention, she quickly found out.

“I feel like I’m at a family reunion with all my distant cousins from all over the country.” Alston said.


Averi Harper (Professional)Averi-Harper

“NABJ has offered me opportunities to develop professionally. Without NABJ, I wouldn’t be doing the things that I do today nowhere near as confidently.”

This year, NABJ awarded  Harper “Student Journalist of the Year.” She is an alumna of UNC Chapel Hill and Columbia University. Harper is currently a reporter at WCTI, an ABC affiliate in Greenville, NC.


Sheldon Sneed (NABJ Career Fair Recruiter)


“I wanted to see others like myself in the industry…I am always looking to see myself in whatever I do, particulary my work.”

Sneed was a recruiter working a booth at the NABJ career fair and has been a NABJ member since 1996.

From my own experience with NABJ and from speaking with the people interviewed above, I’ve come to realize just how powerful NABJ is. It has been integral in helping black journalists develop professionally and in tapping into a vast network of other black professionals. Not only has NABJ helped individuals, but it has also provided a collective voice that  demands more diversity in newsrooms. This voice has also been used  to speak out on issues affecting the black community. As  I navigate the media industry, I’ve learned that a minority groups’ ability to create a voice goes a long way in disrupting the status quo.



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