Tag Archives: Kevin Blackistone

Rosen, Blackistone Talk Civil Rights, Journalism in ‘Deep South Dispatch’

Anne Farris Rosen discusses the book she wrote with her father, John N. Herbers: "Deep South Dispatch: Memoir of a Civil Rights Journalist."

Anne Farris Rosen discusses the book she wrote with her father, John N. Herbers: “Deep South Dispatch: Memoir of a Civil Rights Journalist.”

COLLEGE PARK (3/1/19) — The writer ripped the inked paper from his typewriter, balled it up and threw it away.

John N. Herbers, then a reporter for The New York Times, was writing about President Richard Nixon. When Herbers’ daughter, Anne, asked why he tossed away his work, the dutiful journalist said the words he wrote made the president sound crazy and creepy.

That was unacceptable. Herbers had to start over.

“He was a straight-down-the-middle journalist,” Anne Farris Rosen told a crowd gathered Wednesday in Knight Hall, where she spoke about the book she wrote with her father, “Deep South Dispatch: Memoir of a Civil Rights Journalist” — the story of his remarkable career.

Herbers, like the daughter he inspired to pursue a career in journalism, had a clear view of his role. As a journalist covering the United States civil rights movement in the deep south — where he was witness to a remarkable array of events, including the march from Selma and the church bombing in Birmingham — and later as a White House correspondent, Herbers had a deep-seated moral conviction that wouldn’t allow him to ignore the evil in some of what he covered.

But he was no activist.

“He believed to not be as objective as possible endangered his credibility,” said Rosen, a freelance journalist and lecturer at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism. “He would lose his power.”

Over the course of 90 minutes, Rosen and Merrill College Professor Kevin Blackistone discussed Herbers’ career and the 10-year collaboration between father and daughter that led to the publication of the memoir.

It started amid the recession. Rosen, by then a freelance journalist, was wanting for work. During a particularly slow four-month period, she dusted off the beginnings of a memoir Herbers wrote in 1997, when he was 73 years old. It was in the bottom of a filing cabinet.

She was already familiar with her father’s work — she was often an enthusiastic tag-a-long on Herbers’ assignments in the deep south. One such trip ended with her and the rest of her family evacuating from St. Augustine, Florida, after members of the Ku Klux Klan drove circles around their hotel one night, shooting guns in the air.

But Herbers, who had spent so many years covering the civil rights movement, hadn’t gone into enough detail as he wrote his memoir. A description of the trial in the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year old African-American boy who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955, lasted precious few lines. He’d already written about all of that, after all — every day, for years, as a United Press International wire correspondent and New York Times reporterelaborate with personal reflections on.

So, Rosen collected 600 of her father’s articles, up to 1965. She compiled them, and on Saturday afternoons he edited them. Herbers, then in his 80s, didn’t elaborate with personal reflections on what he saw in the south — but Rosen found that when she asked him to sit in front of his typewriter and tap out a few paragraphs, he could describe how some of it felt.

“He finally was able to express that on paper,” she said.

Blackistone said those feelings, and what Herbers covered, showed that in one way, Herbers was an activist — not in his reporting, but in what he insisted needed to be reported on.

Professor Kevin Blackistone and lecturer Anne Farris Rosen discussing "Deep South Dispatch: Memoir of a Civil Rights Journalist" in Knight Hall's Eaton Theater.

Professor Kevin Blackistone and lecturer Anne Farris Rosen discussing “Deep South Dispatch: Memoir of a Civil Rights Journalist” in Knight Hall’s Eaton Theater.

Despite pushback from UPI clients — newspaper publishers and broadcasters who subscribed to the UPI wire, but didn’t care to publish the stories about the startling racial tension that permeated the south — Herbers continued to report.

“His role was to bare witness and be a public servant,” Rosen said.

And he was. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon who was among the leaders in the Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, march that contributed to passage of the federal Voting Rights Act, had lofty praise for Herbers’ book as it neared publication.

“If it had not been for reporters like John, I do not know what would have happened to us as we fought for civil rights,” Lewis said in a review included among the book’s marketing material. “He was not afraid to get in the way, often risking his life to uncover the truth. He made a lasting contribution to the movement and to America.”

The book was finally finished in 2017, when Herbers was 93. He died shortly after his story was written and before it hit shelves.

The memoir remains, a monument to a career in which he interviewed Martin Luther King Jr. on numerous occasions and covered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He was present at so many historic events, Rosen sometimes calls her father “the Forrest Gump of journalism.”

Many of the stories are more than 50 years old. Rosen and Blackistone noted they don’t necessarily read that way.

“This book has so much relevance to today,” Rosen said, “Not just about journalism, but about race relations.”

For more information, contact:
Alexander A. Pyles

Blackistone Named Professor of the Practice

Kevin Blackistone has been appointed a Professor of the Practice by University President Dr. Wallace Loh.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Feb. 20) – University of Maryland President Dr. Wallace Loh announced today that he has approved the appointment of Merrill College Visiting Professor Kevin Blackistone to the rank of Professor of the Practice.

In a congratulatory message to the Merrill College community, Dean Lucy Dalglish wrote, “This appointment reflects the value the entire university places on Kevin’s professional accomplishments and contributions to the college. Whether it has been through his work for ESPN or the Washington Post, speaking at a conference or teaching and mentoring our students, Kevin’s work has been thoughtful and provocative. He has never turned down a request to serve on a committee or speak to a class. I am thrilled about the next phase of Kevin’s career at Merrill College.”

About Professor of the Practice

The University of Maryland’s Faculty Handbook says, “This title may be used to appoint individuals who have demonstrated excellence in the practice as well as leadership in specific fields. The appointee shall have attained regional and national prominence and, when appropriate, international recognition of outstanding achievement. Additionally, the appointee shall have demonstrated superior teaching ability appropriate to assigned responsibilities.”

About Kevin Blackistone

Kevin Blackistone is a longtime national sports columnist now at The Washington Post, a panelist on ESPN’s Around the Horn, a contributor to National Public Radio and co-author of A Gift for Ron, a memoir by former NFL star Everson Walls published in November 2009 about his kidney donation to one-time teammate Ron Springs.

Blackistone is a recipient of numerous awards, including awards for sports column writing from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors, for investigative reporting from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and for enterprise reporting from the National Association of Black Journalists. Blackistone was a Davenport Fellow at the University of Missouri and a Wharton Business Journalism Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. He was a Martin Luther King Fellow at Boston University as a graduate student.

Blackistone is on the board of directors of the Society for Features Journalism Foundation and he serves on the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Task Force on Recruiting for Academic Diversity.

He has authored academic journal articles on diversity in sports media and hagiography in sports film documentary. He was a visiting lecturer at Beijing Sport University in summer 2014.

Blackistone teaches two sports classes at Merrill College:

JOUR328 Sports Reporting and Writing.

JOUR458 How Sports Journalism Constructs Our World.


George Solomon on Pat Summitt: A Lifetime Promoting Women’s Basketball

Pat Summitt with women's basketball player.Pat Summitt with player.

Thanks to Tennessee Journalist at flickr.com for the picture.

By George Solomon
Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism

(Reprinted from the Povich website.)

What many people did not know about Pat Summitt, who died Tuesday at age 64 from early onset dementia, was how hard she tried to sell the game of women’s college basketball.

That she won 1,098 games at the University of Tennessee, most by any college coach, man or woman, seemed almost secondary to how she spent a lifetime trying to interest sports fans in her game.

Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins, who wrote three books with Summitt and was a close friend,  would bring Summitt into the sports department of The Washington Post whenever Summitt was in D.C. for a coaches’ meeting or game against George Washington University.

Summitt loved to push the individuals on her team, or the game itself, and would enjoy the give-and-take with sports journalists. “Would it hurt to give the Maryland or GW women more than a  paragraph and box score?” she would needle. “What’s the harm?”

For years Summitt would bring her talented, highly rated Vols to the GW’s Smith Center to play Joe McKeown’s Colonials. The Colonials usually would play the superior Volunteers well, losing at the end, but exciting the Washington fans.

“Pat Summitt left a legacy that will never be forgotten,” said McKeown in a statement. “Pat was a great friend, a legend, a mentor and a pioneer for women’s sports, her impact goes far beyond the athletic world. She did so much for so many. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to be around her, to compete against her and to learn from her.”

The same two teams would play the following year in Knoxville, with Tennessee winning comfortably. After these games Summitt would stay until the last question was asked and then she’s ask some questions of her own.

“Why come to D.C?” Summitt was often prodded. “Because it’s the capital of the country and maybe some people will enjoy what we show them,” she replied, with a twinkle in her eye. “We can play; GW can play. We get a good crowd, and some of the fans will come back if they liked what they saw.”

Summitt was funny, feisty, competitive and tough. She knew many people looked down at women’s basketball and it upset her.  She cared about her sport and knew how to sell.

She knocked on doors, made telephone calls and made it her business to know the writers and broadcasters. She remembered names; not all do.

But she liked Sally Jenkins most, who like Pat Summitt was funny, feisty, competitive and tough. Summitt could coach. Jenkins could write. They were a perfect match, broken up much too soon.

Read More: Visiting Professor Kevin Blackistone writes about Pat Summitt in the Washington Post. He says “Pat Summitt earned respect for women’s sports, but we still aren’t giving it.”

Sports Journalism at Maryland

Interested in sports journalism? There’s no better place to be than the Washington-Baltimore area  – one of the nation’s liveliest sports markets. You will have the opportunity to learn from some of the best-known sports writers and reporters in class and during many special events throughout the year, while gaining real-world, hands-on experience outside.

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism, with the Merrill College, helps prepare journalism students with a range of courses in sports reporting and broadcasting.

The Center serves as a launching pad for University of Maryland students to learn, actively participate in, and develop the journalistic skills they need to meet the challenges of new media that face the next generation of sports journalists.




Hands-on experiences come through our student-powered Capital News Service, the Diamondback student newspaper, WMUC radio, the Povich Center website on campus and internships off-campus. Students also gain valuable practical experience in television covering Maryland sports in front of – and behind the camera – for the Maryland Athletic Department’s Terps TV. There are growing opportunities as well now that Maryland is part of the Big 10.

Povich Director George Solomon, professor of the practice at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism since 2003, was assistant managing editor for sports at The Washington Post from 1975-2003. Solomon was the first Shirley Povich Professor when the Povich Chair was established in 2007. He is a member of the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

Solomon is joined by Kevin Blackistone, a panelist on ESPN’s “Around-the-Horn,’’ and now a Washington Post columnist and a host of local sports professionals who are adjunct lecturers in Knight Hall.

Want more information?

Contact the Povich Center.

Read the Povich Center Brochure. (PDF)

Check out the Povich website.

Students can also network and learn by joining two student sports organizations on campus:

APSEAPSE – Associated Press Sports Editors

APSE (Associated Press Sports Editors) is a national organization that strives to improve professional standards for sports departments of professional news organizations and to recognize professional excellence among its membership. The University of Maryland and Virginia Tech were the first two student APSE chapters – both applications approved June 25, 2014. APSE works with student chapters to increase student participation in regional and national meetings and to bring APSE representation to campuses. APSE offers an internship and job bank and awards student scholarships.

Faculty Sponsor: George Solomon – Director, Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism.

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 1.22.31 PMAssociation of Women in Sports Media

AWSM is a volunteer-managed, 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1987 as a support network and advocacy group for women who work in sports writing, editing, broadcast and production, and public and media relations. AWSM works to promote and increase diversity in sports media through our internship/scholarship program, as well as through mentoring links and career-enhancement initiatives.

Blackistone To Write Sports Commentaries for the Washington Post

From a Washington Post News Release:

Announcement from Matt Vita, sports editor:
We are very excited to announce that KevinBlackistone, a veteran journalist and educator, will be writing regular commentary for the Sports section on topics ranging from our local sports teams to the relationship between sports and major social issues. He’ll also be a contributor to Post TV.Kevin has a long and distinguished career in journalism and is currently a commentator for ESPN and a regular panelist on ESPN’s popular weekday show, “Around the Horn.”
He’s worked as a reporter for the Boston Globe and Dallas Morning News, where he covered national and regional economics for the business section before being named a sports columnist.In addition to his television work for ESPN, Kevin also has written in the digital arena, for AOLFanhouse, the Daily tablet and the Guardian.com. He’s the author of a 2009 memoir of former NFL player Everson Wall’s decision to become an organ donor for longtime teammate Ron Springs and he has published numerous academic papers on sports topics, many of which have focused on the lives of black athletes.
In recent years, Kevin has served as a teacher and mentor to aspiring journalists as a visiting professor at the ShirleyPovich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland. And as a longtime resident of our area, Kevin is familiar – he might say too familiar – with the trials and tribulations of local professional and college sports teams.This rich and distinguished background, coupled with Kevin’s thoughtfulness about the issues that matter where sports and society intersect – coupled with his grace as a writer — will provide our readers with a dynamic new voice and perspective.

Read more about Kevin Blackistone