Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones and the New Protest #Journalism

Danielle Kilgo moderates a conversation with Dr. Allissa Richardson

Join us Wednesday, April 14 for a virtual lecture by Dr. Allissa Richardson, author of Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones, & the New Protest #Journalism (Oxford University Press, 2020). A Q & A and moderated discussion will follow the lecture, facilitated by Dr. Danielle Kilgo, John & Elizabeth Bates Cowles Professor of Journalism, Diversity and Equality in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

This event is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required.

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota Office for Equity and Diversity. 

About the Book
Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones and the New Protest #Journalism tells the story of this century’s most powerful black social movement through the eyes of 15 activists. At the height of the Black Lives Matter uprisings, African Americans filmed and tweeted evidence of fatal police encounters, spurring a global debate on excessive police force, which disproportionately claimed the lives of African Americans. The book reveals how smartphones, social media, and social justice empowered black activists to create their own news outlets, continuing a centuries-long, African American tradition of using the news to challenge racism. It identifies three overlapping eras of domestic terror against African American people—slavery, lynching, and police brutality—and the journalism documenting their atrocities, generating a genealogy showing how slave narratives of the 1700s inspired the abolitionist movement; black newspapers of the 1800s galvanized the anti-lynching and civil rights movements; and smartphones of today powered the anti–police brutality movement. This lineage of black witnessing, the book shows, is formidable and forever evolving. The text is informed by the author’s activism. Personal accounts of her teaching and her own experiences of police brutality are woven into the book to share how she has inspired black youth to use mobile devices to speak up from the margins. Bearing Witness While Black conveys a crucial need to protect our right to look into the forbidden space of violence against black bodies and to continue to regard the smartphone as an instrument of moral suasion and social change.

About Dr. Allissa Richardson
Dr. Allissa Richardson is assistant professor of journalism at USC Annenberg. She researches how African Americans use mobile and social media to produce innovative forms of journalism — especially in times of crisis.

Richardson’s research is informed by her award-winning work as a journalism innovator. She is considered a pioneer in mobile journalism (MOJO), having launched the world’s first smartphone-only college newsrooms in 2010, in the U.S., Morocco and South Africa.

Richardson won the National Association of Black Journalists’ prestigious Journalism Educator of the Year (‘12) award for her international work. Richardson is an inductee into Apple’s elite Distinguished Educator program. She is the recipient of two esteemed Harvard University posts: the Nieman Foundation Visiting Journalism Fellowship (‘14) and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society Fellowship (‘20). Lastly, she is a fellow in Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism (‘20). 

Richardson’s research has been published in Convergence, Journal of Communication, Digital Journalism, Journalism Studies and The Black Scholar. Richardson serves on the editorial boards of Digital Journalism and the International Journal of Communication. She is an affiliated researcher with New York University’s Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies (CR + DS) as well.

Richardson holds a PhD in journalism studies from the University of Maryland College Park; a master’s degree in magazine publishing from Northwestern University’s Medill School; and a bachelor of science in biology from Xavier University of Louisiana, where she was named a “Top 40 Under 40” alumna.

About Dr. Danielle Kilgo
Dr. Danielle Kilgo is the John & Elizabeth Bates Cowles Professor of Journalism, Diversity and Equality in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Her research interests look primarily at the interaction among social movements, social media, and journalism. Her work also appears in journals such as the Journal of Communication, International Journal of Press/Politics, Journalism, Journalism Studies, Journalism Practice, Digital Journalism, Mass Communication & Society, Health Communication, and The International Journal of Communication. She has presented her work at AEJMC, ICA, NCA, SSCA, ISOJ, WAPOR and UCDA, where she has received numerous research paper awards. In 2020, she received the Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Outstanding Junior Scholar Award. She also received prestigious recognition from Mass Communication and Society Division of AEJMC for her dissertation and was named an emerging scholar for AEJMC in 2018. Danielle currently teaches about race and gender diversity & mass communication. She previously served on the faculty at Indiana University & the University of Mary Hardin Baylor.

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