“Truth Tellers” goes to Washington

By Bonnie Newman Davis

It was a Friday afternoon in the nation’s capital. Cold. Raining. Traffic. It didn’t matter. I felt good in the company of a friend and soror, Marylinn Minor, who drove with sleepy me to DC’s National Press Club. As I fumbled with my bags, a woman with a familiar brisk pace breezed past me. I heard her mention my book and I said, “that’s me.” She turned around and we screamed. Laverne McKay Henson, a dear high school and college classmate had driven from Northern Virginia for my book discussion!

We entered the NPC’s Fourth Estate Room where the employees and staff were extremely kind, helpful and attentive to all our needs. And why wouldn’t they be, I asked silently while reminding myself that world leaders and news media luminaries come through the NPC’s doors daily. Laverne did what friends do….grabbed everything out of my hands and started placing bookmarks and other items in the waiting seats.

More people trickled into the room. Dorothy Butler Gilliam, the beloved former Washington Post columnist and my Sheroe–the woman who read my clips 40+ years ago and saw promise in me. At 86 she’s still got it going on. Denise Bridges and her husband Jerome, who’ve been with me on every step of this book journey, came in next.

Then my girl Yolanda McCutchen of WABJ who helped round up DC journalists and others interested in learning more about what we do. Then Fateema Blackwell, my former VCU student who used to follow me around and continues to do so all these years later. Fateema is awesome, and as a multimedia journalist takes care of many of my technical needs.

They kept coming. Renowned freelance journalist Stephenie Overman who is bringing me back into the regional and national fold of the Society of Professional journalists (SPJ). Dorine Bethea, a tenacious journalist whom I once worked with at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Dorine has a testimony that I hope she will share one day. She still rises, currently at the Washington Post. Bousaina Ibrahim, a young sister fresh out of Nebraska, came to learn how to further spread her wings in a business that is not for the faint of heart. Phil, a young brother from the Huffington Post. Slav who said he’s “from Ukraine and knows Joe Biden,” before asking about the U.S.’s relationship with Africa.

Dr. Sherri Williams, a journalist and journalism professor at American University who is so sharp and witty and focused that it makes my head spin. Sonya Ross, equally smart, strategic and funny is a former Associated Press reporter and one of the women featured in my book, “Truth Tellers: the Power and Presence of Black Women Journalists Since 1960.” Sonya shared with us what it was like to witness and record the George W. Bush administration’s response to 9-11 because she was part of the White House press pool in Florida that fateful day 22 years ago. Amazing as Sonya also details her heroic moment in my book!

Oh, did I mention that Virginia Congressman Robert “Bobby” Scott was in an adjourning room filled with Black historians? Or that Kemba Smith Pradia briefly stepped into my book event, nodded and smiled before disappearing, further signaling to me that God is Good. Thank you so much, Sonya Ross for suggesting that I host my book event at the NPC. We did that.

Special thanks to my sponsors: Dorothy B. Gilliam, Leigh Battle, Senior2Senior Health Plans & Retirement Planning Group LLC; Vinara Mosby, OWNER/AGENT AT MAXAMUS INSURANCE SERVICES LLC; BND Institute of Media and Culture Inc., MLH Assets Management, InfraPros, LLC.