Special Commentary for Work Samples
http://www.campusecho.com/news/view.php/742409/Alum-recalls-rights-struggle (NCCU CampusEcho news article)
The writing of this article has a unique backstory. This information was originally compiled in a research paper on the Civil Rights Movement in Durham. I wrote the research paper to present the 2013 Association for the Study of African American Life and History conference. I had already presented the paper and it was so full of important and historical information that I wanted to do something else with it. I just did not know exactly what I could do with it. I had interviewed audio and video recorded my grandmother as one the main source for my research paper. I realized that I wanted to write a campus echo article and upon my arrival to the office of DP, he asked what I was interested in and I immediately said civil rights and history. I then thought about my research paper and though I thought it was impossible, I asked if it could be turned into a news article. DP explained to me that it is not usually done but if I could go back and interview my source and break the words down from a research format to a news format that the story could be ran in the Campus Echo. I was ecstatic because this was my very first article and it was about my grandmother’s time at NCCU in the late 1960s. Though reporter do not usually write about people they know, DP let me write the article because there was factual information to back up my grandmother’s statements so he knew that the article and research paper was in no way biased. So I began going to DP’s office week after week with a break down of the paper. The research paper was fourteen pages, 14,195 words, long and the article could not be that long and wordy. So I had to figure out what parts to leave in and take out to make it shorter. I also had to be taught the difference and simplicity of news writing compared to the format of a research paper. This was very tough for me to understand and comprehend as a sophomore double major because I had not taken a lot of Mass Communication classes and the most writing I had done was for the History department in research format. DP was overly patient with me every single day. I am not sure why but maybe he could sense my deep urge to want to write this article and get it into the Echo. Eventually I had the format down pack and I got the word-count down. I went back and got a fresh interview from my grandmother and also a phone interview with DP present. It actually was not easy getting the new interview from my grandmother because she was at her home in Arlington, Virginia and I was in Durham. I could not just drive to her and get the new interview so after playing phone tag with her for a few days, I finally was able to catch her with an open spot in her schedule to get the interview. I took pictures of her looking through her college yearbooks for the article photo on a holiday and finally my article was ready. All the work it took to get this article ready was tough but a needed experience. I understood from the very beginning just how hard it can be to write a news article and to get information from a source. I decided to include this in my portfolio because it was my very first published article and it has a unique back story.
http://www.durhamvoice.org/restaurant-remains-culinary-hotspot-in-necd/ (Durham Voice news article)
This article was my first article for a newspaper other than the Campus Echo. I was excited about having people read my writing outside of my peers and professors on campus. I was also excited that I would actually have to go out into the real world and get stories from complete strangers. This experience prepared me for how it truly is for a reporter and writer when their employer is waiting on a story by a certain deadline. I found this story idea when reading past articles in the Durham Voice newspaper online. It was an update story on the status of the restaurant in the Durham community. I thought it would be an easy story to get and write. It was not as easy as I thought it would be but also not too tough. I called the restaurant multiple times trying to speak with the owner. Every time for four days, I was put on hold, hung up on, or told to call back. I held for long periods of time while others called in to go orders on the other line I suppose. I was intentionally or unintentionally forgotten about on the other line for some reason and then I found myself hung up on. I called back persistently multiple times of the day after I was told “now isn’t a good time, the owner isn’t here,” amongst other common excuses. I began to stress because the deadline of my article was approaching and I had absolutely nothing remotely close to a story so I decided to show up to the restaurant. I walked in and introduced myself, explaining what I wanted to do, why, and who I needed to speak with. Surprisingly a very open-minded and friendly employee who became the main source of my article greeted me. He also happened to be one of the owners of the business. I did not explain that I had been calling and of all the phone trials I had prior to visiting the business. After introducing myself I kindly asked for an interview and the employee consented. I was assuming I would have to come back when the business was not open or at a more convenient time than the actual moment. I was wrong, the owner instructed me to have a seat and fixed me a drink. He asked if he could get the orders of a few people in line and then come speak with me. I patiently waited and then took advantage of the crowd. I knew I needed more than one source so I started at the back of the line introducing myself and asking if I could ask them their opinion of the restaurant. While most p ople declined, I found two people that were ready and willing to give their opinions and even be photographed with their orders. When the owner cleared the line he talked to me for at least almost an hour about this business and its plans for the future. After the interview was over I decided to try the food for myself and when I went to the counter to order the owner told me that he could not accept my money and that the bill would be on the restaurant. I was shocked but grateful for the kindness displayed. He explained he was grateful for my interest in his business so the least he could do was give me a meal. This experience taught me that it is better to just show up sometimes because it is easier to avoid a person on the phone than it is to dismiss them when they are standing right in front of you. I decided to include this in my portfolio as a demonstration of my news writing abilities.
/uploads/2/4/3/8/24380147/history_conference_paper_civil_.docx (Research Paper for ASALH conference 2013)
This research paper was written during the summer of 2013 to be presented at the Association for the study of African American Life and History conference in Jacksonville, Florida. This conference is held every year in a different place and the Chair of the History department recruited me as well as a few other undergraduates as and graduate students to attend and present at the conference. At the end of the spring 2013 semester, the Chair, Dr. Harper, informed me of what exactly the focus of the panel I would be on would be the Civil Rights Movement in Durham during the 1950s and late 60s. I told him that my grandmother had attended North Carolina Central University (NCCU), which was North Carolina College at Durham (NCC) during her time here. He told me I should talk to her about her time in school and see if she had participated in any civil rights demonstrations. Prior to him suggesting it, though I talk to my grandma about any and everything, I never thought to ask her that question. Dr. Harper informed me of when the conference would take place and told me to talk to my grandma, work on the paper over the summer, and have it ready when school reconvened. He also gave me a copy of a graduate students thesis on the civil rights. That helped tremendously because it gave me titles of books, articles, and other archival information on civil rights that was available in our NCCU libraries. I followed the vague instructions and I decided to video record the information my grandma gave me. I researched Alfonso Elder though his papers left behind in online archives at NCCU and I went out and found another source to interview other than my grandmother. A man that attended NCC during the time period that my paper took place gave me information on the topic as well. I got an audio recording of the information he shared with me. After reading books on civil rights movements in and outside of the United States and reading the thesis front to back, I wrote this research paper. The process of finding another source other than my grandmother to interview was tough but once I did, I used him to try and find other alum students to speak with. It was not a success but luckily I had enough information to still write the paper. After returning to school in the fall semester, Dr. Harper informed me that my recording of my grandmother would be a part of a documentary film on the Civil Rights Movement in Durham that he wanted me to help a group of students create. We went out and interviewed elder alum and their family members all throughout Durham and compiled their interviews into one film. We presented our papers as well as the rough draft of the documentary at the 2013 ASALH conference. The audience received our work well and that gave me a sense of satisfaction and that is when I knew that all my hard work did not got to waste. I decided to include this in my portfolio because it shows my ability to go out and interview strangers to get what I need and it demonstrates my writing abilities.
/uploads/2/4/3/8/24380147/the_african_american_caretakers_.docx (Research Paper for ASALH conference 2014)
This research paper was written in the spring of 2014 to be presented at the Association for the study of African American Life and History conference in Memphis Tennessee. Dr. Harper decided that after the success of our first documentary and papers that we should try it again but this time focus on the African Americans in the medical field during the 1960s in Durham. The writing of this paper was tough for me because the medical field was never really interesting to me. I had never thought to research the circumstances for and of the first African Americans in the medical field. My paper focused on nurses and nursing schools in Durham and having that topic is actually how things became a little easier for me. My mom is a nurse so I thought that maybe she could ask some of her colleagues if they had relatives that had attended nursing school in Durham in the past. Sure enough she worked with a woman that had actually attended a nursing school in Durham during the time period of my paper. My mom asked the woman if she minded speaking with me about her experiences in the nursing field and she was eager and willing to. I ran into the problem of figuring out when I could leave Durham and travel to Wilson, NC, to the woman’s home to get the interview. I also had to ask her when a good time was for her. We never spoke about when exactly the interview would take place but I had her phone number and address. So one day there was free time and I drove home to Rocky Mount, NC to pick up my mother and then to Wilson to get the interview. I showed up to the woman’s home unannounced and called her from my car outside. For some odd reason, the number that I had spoken to her from prior was now ringing and going to a voicemail of a person with a foreign accent. This woman was not foreign and I did not think she had changed her number within a few days of me speaking to her. So I finally just got out of my car with my mom and knocked on her home door. The house had a front door and a side door under a carport. I went the front one, rung the doorbell and waited for a while. After I did not get an answer I went to the side door and did the same. Eventually we heard a woman’s voice instructing us to enter her home. My mom got me acquainted with her colleague and the interview began. At the end of the interview when I was going in my phone to save the audio recording, I accidently hit “Delete” instead of pressing “Save” and they were side by side. So there I was saying my goodbye and thank you and I did not have anything except my and my mother’s memory of what the woman had just shared with me. I sped home in the car and wrote down everything she had told me and read it to my mom for confirmation and called the woman back to make sure I did not get any information wrong. After researching African American nurses and nursing schools in Durham through books and archival information, I wrote the paper and presented it at 2014 ASALH conference. I decided to include this in my portfolio as a demonstration of my writing, researching, and interviewing abilities.
I wrote this poem for many different reasons but one of the main reasons is the current youth culture. It seems dressing in skimpy clothes, dancing and posing on social media almost naked, and being artificial in any way possible is what is popular amongst young girls. The reinforcement of this behavior happens on television on reality shows and music videos and it also occurs online on social media. Social media and reality television seems to be one of the main things that makes the world turn for many youth groups in this time. My message in the poem is that this behavior is not something we have to or need to portray and the attention it receives should not be that of which you want to have. Wearing clothes is okay, wearing your own hair is okay, having class is okay, and the extra is not needed. The adult women should pay attention to the message their public actions send to young girls. Music artist have a product to sell and I understand that but I feel like they could possibly teach young girls something other than “twerking.” I understand that women want attention from men but I want women and young girls to understand what type of attention they truly want from a man and to know the difference between positive attention with positive intentions versus what seems like positive attention that comes with negative intentions. I feel like that the women that worked so hard before us to make a name for themselves and the women gender in this world did not envision us being important because we are naked and shaking our butts in front of a big crowd or on a camera for social media. The quality in women has decreased as well as confidence and intelligence. People do not seem to think about what it means when they do things publically on social media and on reality shows. Young girls are looking up to these women and believing that it is okay to behave this way and its not. Some celebrities’ look at is as I they did not ask to be a role model or they say it is not their problem but they are wrong. They must realize that even if they never once asked for someone to look up to them, that people are present looking at them, practicing and following their every move. They must also realize that pushing it off as someone else as their problem is only helping to ruin the future. The youth are the future and if they are not molded and sent in the right direction then we have no hope for the future. Hopefully the message in my poem reached someone somewhere in the world and caused them to reevaluate their life and actions. I included this poem because it was received well with people on blog and other places I posted it. It holds a positive message that must be somehow faced and discussed before it is too late.