By Chasity Ann Gunn
Belmont University student journalist
The distortion of the lives of the Negro is as old as the first textbook and as new as today’s newspaper.” This was a 1963 quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used by Dr. Julianne Malveaux in her academic lecture, Covering diverse communities in the news.” Malveaux was the second speaker in the ongoing New Century Journalism Speaker’s Series, and also spoke on the Belmont campus as part of Martin Luther King Day events.
Malveaux is an internationally known economist, former educator, journalist, commentator and syndicated columnist. Her work is regularly featured in USA Today, Black Issues in Higher Education, Ms. Magazine and Essence Magazine. She has appeared on CNN, BET, C-SPAN, MSNBC, CNBC and many others. In addition, she has hosted talk radio programs in Washington, San Francisco and New York.
Standing in a two-piece black suit with a brightly colored plaid shawl resting on her left shoulder, she used the quote to explain to students and faculty why she loved to write, and she described invisible, inferior and exceptional as how blacks are portrayed in today’s media.
As an illustration of invisible she used the traditional “Lifestyles” section of the newspaper that showcased local marriages, which she defined as neutral news. She stated African Americans were never shown in these types of sections.
Next, she explained the inferior side of the news as the bad side of the story.
“We get the headlines when we mess up. Not many people will tell you the good side of the story only the bad story,” Malveaux said. “I credit the increase in good stories to woman journalists.”
“For example, there are 24.8 percent of blacks living in poverty, but what about the others not in poverty. Why isn’t that a story?” questioned Malveaux.
Lastly, she characterized the exceptional side as the actors, celebrities and athletes.
“They get a lot of coverage, but it paints a disapportionate picture. Things have changed since the 80s but not enough. That’s what helps me decide what I write, Malveaux said.
She told the audience about one of her latest books, “Paradox of Loyalty: African American Response to Sept. 11.”
The black side was not shown during Sept. 11th nor was blacks asked of their opinion of the events, Malveaux said.
“African Americans are ultimate Americans. We were fighting for the right to fight in World War II,” Malveaux said. Why support a country that didn’t support us? That’s the paradox.
As a political activist, Malveaux has run several times for public office in San Francisco, her hometown. She decided no longer run for office, and moved to Washington, D.C.
Malveaux said she won’t run for office again because she doesn’t agree with compromising her views. “Compromise isn’t in my vocabulary.”
Malveaux gave an international opinion on the view on diversity. She shared her experiences from visiting Venezuela and Brazil, and compared the racial issues of Latin America to those in the United States.
In Brazil, they resist the language of race, Malveaux said.
She urged the audience to travel internationally.
“If I were rich, I would send every child out the country before they were 15 years old. You see yourself differently,” Malveaux said.
Malveaux added several humorous anecdotes throughout her speech and kept her audience laughing.
She said she could never be a college president because of the huge role of fundraising “I don’t beg very well,’ she said.
On the same day at 7 p.m., Malveaux kicked off the Martin Luther King celebration as the keynote speaker. Her address, “Wake up: Realize you’re the dream,” urged listeners to make a change in their worlds. The event was sponsored by Belmont’s Martin Luther King, Jr. committee and the New Century Journalism program.