The Plattsburgh Association of Black Journalists has been working since their establishment in 2015 to inspire upcoming journalists, especially of color, to create and seize opportunities.
Soon to become the only SUNY school to be officially recognized as a branch of the National Association of Black Journalists, PABJ holds weekly meetings, hosts professional workshops, discusses controversial media issues and participates in state and nationwide conferences.
Current vice president of PABJ and multimedia journalism major Nyela Graham joined the club her freshman year to meet friends in her field of study.
PSUC junior and magazine journalism and public relations double major Jacob Elsbree describes PABJ’s overall goal as creating opportunities for students of color and showing them how to take advantage of the media to help overcome the challenges they face solely because they’re people of color.
As well as taking advantage of opportunities, PABJ makes an effort to have higher level discussions of media driven issues and bring relevant speakers to campus.
One of the more memorable events that PABJ has put on was bringing Jarrett Hill, the journalist credited for breaking the story of Melania Trump plagiarizing Michelle Obama in her speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, to campus.
“We made connections with him,” Graham said. “He was very impressed with our club and said that if we needed anything to let him know.”
Inclusion is one of the most important parts of PABJ’s mission statement and is constantly being improved upon.
“Inclusion is something very important to black journalists,” Graham said. “You could walk into the door of a job, and they’ll just see who you are and say ‘Hell no.’ So, why would we do that to someone else?”
Graham emphasized that someone’s race or major absolutely will not stop someone from being included in their club activities.
“If you come to our club, you’ll be included. It does not matter,” Graham said. “Some people just see ‘black’ and think you have to be black to join, but that’s not the case.”
Elsbree wishes that more people with different backgrounds would come to the meetings to join the conversations and present their unique perspectives.
“During the talk about Muslims in America after 9/11 I noticed so many people,” Elsbree said. “There was a girl from Egypt, and it was cool to hear her point of view because I’m a white man from the Southern Tier of New York. She had views I never would have thought of.”
Today, PABJ is holding a “NBA 2K” video game tournament fundraiser and plans on holding a large networking event next fall.
PABJ was also invited to a regional conference hosted by the NABJ in New York City in two weeks to receive their recognition as an official NABJ chapter. They also plan to attend the annual national conference next summer in Miami.
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