Doing D.C.: Neither Rain Nor Snow…Feb 20th, 2010 | By admin | Category: From The Road
The DC region was still reeling from its second major snowstorm in just days, but many intrepid souls trudged across the tundra to hear about Gerald and “My Times in Black and White.”
Phillip Dixon, chair of Howard University’s department of journalism in the John H. Johnson School of Communication, joined me on Friday, Feb. 12, for a candid, wide-ranging talk about Gerald’s life and legacy. Dixon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former managing editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, described the particular challenges black male senior editors face in responding to racist attitudes among staff, among other topics. About 50 students came out – later I learned that attendance was mandatory for some classes (thanks profs!). Even so, several students bought books despite tight discretionary budgets. Come fall, perhaps a purchase of “My Times in Black and White” won’t be discretionary: Dixon declared that Gerald’s memoir will be required reading for all incoming freshmen.
Speaking of students, I was impressed by their questions, among them why completing Gerald’s book was so important to me. One young sister queried, “You asked contributors to the book to share their best Gerald Boyd stories; what’s your best Gerald Boyd story?” That made me smile and recount the time when Gerald asked me to move in with him and I said yes – once the lease on my apartment ran out. One day not long after that, called me at the end of a workday and told me to not go to my place but to come home to him. I went to his apartment to find that he had hired movers to pack up my tiny two-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and move me across town to his! I must say that I was charmed.
Friday night found us at a wine and cheese reception and reading at Akwaaba in D.C., the elegantly appointed Dupont Circle-area bed and breakfast operated by my friend and former Essence colleague, Monique Greenwood. About 15 people—including Monique’s daughter Glynn Pogue, a Howard freshman—gathered in the parlor of Akwaaba for an intimate look at Gerald’s life and career. What we lacked in numbers, we more than made up for in the depth of discussion. Journalism veteran Jack White, advisor to Howard’s student paper, the Hilltop, acknowledged that Gerald’s story was sobering. Thanks to the Washington Association of Black Journalists and Lee Ivory, chapter president.
Saturday, Feb. 13, Yanick Rice Lamb, Editor in chief of Heart and Soul magazine and an associate journalism professor at Howard, hosted nearly 20 friends for a private reading at her home in Bowie, Maryland. It was good to see NABJ stalwarts like Barbranda Lumpkins Walls, Marcia Davis and Vanessa Williams. Some folks who joined us had been snowbound and were venturing out for the first time that week. So glad they dug out.
That evening, my final DC stop, we sold out of books as dozens of friends and even my brother-in-law Eric joined me at Busboys and Poets on 14th and V. It was great to see folks like Fred Sweets, who shares Gerald’s St. Louis roots, Jacki (another St. Louisan, who attended Soldan High with Gerald) and Larry Moffi, Marjorie Valbrun, Robert Pierre, and Ginger Thompson, who was just back from covering the aftermath of the quake in Haiti for The Times.
A special note of gratitude to my host, Yanick, a former Times and Times Magazine Group colleague, and the person whom I credit with my assuming a leadership role in NABJ. In addition to hosting the private reading, Yanick ferried me through horrendous traffic to my NewsChannel 8 interview in Alexandria, Va., and had a hand in all of the DC events and even some of the publicity (plus she gave me her master bedroom – who does that?). Thanks, Yanick, for your friendship and support.