Reporters on the Civil Rights Beat
Kaufman—now known by her married name, Monica Pearson—began
her career in broadcast journalism
in Atlanta. As WSB-TV's
first African American daily evening anchorwoman, Kaufman changed
the landscape for journalists in Atlanta.
Kaufman attended Catholic
schools as a child and teenager in Louisville,
Kentucky. In YEAR,
she graduated from the University
of Louisville with a B.S. in English. Soon after completing
the Summer Program for Minority Groups hosted by the Graduate
School of Journalism at Columbia
University, Kaufman worked as
a newscaster in Louisville. In 1975, as the gains of the Civil
Rights Movement continued to
ease the racial tensions that disrupted many southern cities,
WSB-TV hired Kaufman. Her presence added a new face that validated
the efforts of those activists set on integrating America's newsrooms
with African Americans and women.
NOW strike in Macon; Alice Doesn't
Since 1975 when she joined WSB-TV,
Kaufman has received over twenty-eight Emmy
her work. In 1988, she became the first African American and the
second woman to oversee the Metropolitan
United Way, a non-profit community building organization.
Originally from Perry, Georgia, Deborah Roberts graduated from
the University of Georgia in 1982. She earned her degree in Journalism
and immediately began work at WTVM-TV in Columbus, Georgia upon
commencement from UGA. She then moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where
she successfully covered state legislative proceedings for the news
station WBIT-TV. In 1987, she accepted a job with ABC in Orlando,
Florida, and functioned as the news station’s field anchor for NASA.
Three years later, Roberts switched to NBC and worked abroad covering
the 1991 Gulf War and the 1992 summer Olympics in Barcelona.
With this solid background of reporting experience, ABC News hired
Roberts again in 1995 to be a correspondent for 20/20. She is most
well known for her work in this position and has investigated many
interesting stories during her tenure at ABC. For example, once
of the first stories she worked on was a profile of the Civil Rights
hero Rosa Parks. Additionally, she has chronicled African Americans
searching for their heritage in Africa, and even taken an in-depth
look at Rwandan refugees following the genocide. Roberts currently
lives in New York and continues her excellent work at ABC News.
Macon sanitation workers strike, 1969.
Dean Rusk at UGA:
Savannah state college merger, 1970:
Through their television reportage, Kaufman and Jelks integrated
not only the newsrooms of major television and newsstations, but
also the homes and institutions of the South. As trailblazers in
the field of journalism, Kaufman and Jelks provided African-American
and female newscasters with visible role models and opened doors
that had been closed to blacks and women.
invisibility of women in history of the movement. importance of
diversity to news media. CRM as base for Women's and other social
Resources (click here)
1. In 1972, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm became the first African
American female to run for President of the United States. WHERE,
Chisholm stated that she experienced more discrimination as a woman
than as an African American. What were the conditions for women
in America in the 1970s would
What were some of the challenges that Kaufman and Roberts may
have faced as they strove to enter the newsroom? Do you think that
these challenges were present more because Kaufman and Roberts are
African American, or because they are women?
2. Kaufman and Roberts are both pioneers, yet they did not begin
their respective careers until after the Civil Rights Movement of
the 1960s. What role did the Movement play in their struggle to
succeed, and how might it have affected their reporting?
3. Both WSB-TV and WTVM-TV are located within the South, a hotbed
of racial prejudice for many years. Discuss the differences in seeking
a job in the South in the late 1970s or early 1980s as opposed to
a less prejudiced area such as the Midwest or the North. Do you
think that Kaufman and/or Roberts specifically chose the South because
it would be more challenging, yet arguably more important? Why or
4. What purpose can Kaufman and Roberts serve now that they are
established African-American anchors? Is there still an impact they
can have on civil rights for African Americans and for women?
it to the Streets!
In a time of racial tension, Monica Kaufman fearlessly pursued
her dream job of reporting for Atlanta’s WSB news team. In a tribute
to Kaufman's 30th anniversary as a WSB news reporter, Co-anchor
Jon Pruitt stated that she defeated racial prejudice with her
sense of humor and naturalness on screen. She broke barriers in
the civil rights era and helped Atlanta citizens to see the person
beneath skin color.
Divide into groups and, with your knowledge of the Civil Rights
Movement, make a list of some issues that may have been controversial
for an African-American news reporter to cover in the 1970’s. After
you have a list, talk about what angle you may have taken with your
story ideas, if you were in Kaufman’s shoes. What difficulties
might you have had in the newsroom, on location, and in the studio?
Monica Kaufman is known for her Emmy Award winning news stories. She
has been on assignment in places ranging from the Nobel Peace Prize
conference in Oslo, Norway to the safaris of Africa. Kaufman’s
most widely known segment is “Close-up with Monica Kaufman,” in
which she interviews nationally known celebrities and leaders.
She has interviewed everyone from Britney Spears to former President
Jimmy Carter. If you could switch with Monica Kaufman for a day
and film “Close-up with Monica Kaufman,” who would you interview? Write
a brief set of interview questions to ask your subject. When you
are finished, tell the class who you would interview and why. Finish
by reading 3-4 of the questions that you would ask your interviewee.
Writers: May Advincula, Hannah Hodges,
Ryan Kurz, Ashley Pattison, and Allison Tonini in Professor Barbara
McCaskill's ENGL 4860 (The Civil Rights Movement in American Literature),
Editors and Researchers: Christina
L. Davis and Professor Barbara McCaskill
Web Designer: William Weems
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