Celebrating Columbia J-School’s Centennial

Columbia J-School Dean Nicholas Lemann and Columbia President Lee Bollinger at renaming of Pulitzer Hall

April 21, 2011–My alma mater, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, launched its centennial celebration yesterday afternoon with the renaming of the Journalism School Building and an evening of festitivies.

More than 40 descendants of newspaper publisher  and J-School founding benefactor Joseph Pulitzer joined Dean Nicholas Lemann, Columbia President Lee Bollinger and a crowd of alumni and staff for the unveiling of the newly carved “Pulitzer” name.

"Pulitzer" was carved above the entryway to Columbia's Journalism School in honor of the centennial and its founder

At Columbia’s Miller Theatre, we watched the premier of Jesse Dylan’s Centennial Celebration film.

As emcee for the Centennial program, I had the pleasure of reviewing  the stellar achievements of a century’s worth of J-School grads from the new collection, “50 Great Stories.” It was an honor to introduce Michael Pulitzer, grandson of Joseph Pulitzer and former Pulitzer Inc. board chair, and Robert Caro , the Pulitzer Prize winning biographer and the evening’s keynote speaker. We all were moved by NPR reporter Martina Guzman , J-School ’08, whose award-winning investigative coverage of Detroit challenges the status quo.

Columbia Grad School of Journalism Program April 20, 2012

After the program, we gathered in the J-School’s World Room for dinner. What a nice coincidence, after an evening of interesting conversation, to discover that my tablemate, Michael Pulitzer, Jr., also is my college classmate.  Truly small world.

My remarks about my accomplished fellow alumni and my intro of Robert Caro follow. (more…)

Four Free Women: 1916 Emancipation Reunion

Annie Parrum, Anna Angales, Elizabeth Berkeley and Sadie Thompson–all older than 100–at a 1916 Emancipation reunion (Harris & Ewing Collection/Library of Congress)

I couldn’t stop staring at this photo. Four elderly black women, “all older than 100, at a convention in the District in 1916,” said the caption in last Friday’s Washington Post.

Hoping to learn more about them, I logged on to the Root DC’s page of the  Post’s website. Instead I found only an image of Abraham Lincoln in the Emancipation Day article about the April 1862 legislation that freed 3,128 of the District’s enslaved citizens.

Within a few minutes of online research, though, I discovered two more photos taken on the same day in 1916 by Harris & Ewing at an Emancipation reunion.  As the official White House photographers of the early 1900s and then the nation’s largest photo news service, they rarely snapped shots of African Americans. (more…)