FROM THE BIG APPLE TO THE BIG EASY
NEW YORK (June 28, 2012) – In preparation for writing this column I brewed a nice strong cup of coffee as I am still in recovery mode after several gruelling days on the road – from St. Thomas to Miami to New Orleans.
My road trip began in New York on Wednesday morning with a flight to St. Thomas where I spoke to a regional anti-gang conference before bustling onto a flight to Miami via San Juan that very same day.
After a night in Lebron’s new neighborhood (no, I was not rooting for the Miami Heat), I set out for New Orleans or “N’awlins”, as the locals say, for the 2012 edition of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention and Career Fair.
It was another fruitful convention and I was honored to address the Associate Members Task Force, of which I am a member, and the Founders’ Reception on behalf of the United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism.
The Salute to Excellence gala event was inspiring as members paid tribute to some of the country’s finest journalists, including ABC’s justice senior correspondent Pierre Thomas who was honored as the 2012 Journalist of the Year. Also in recognition row was veteran broadcast journalist Monica Pearson of WSB-TV in Atlanta, recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award. Pearson was one of the first African American women named as a primary co-anchor.
“It’s not about you but about the stories that you tell,” she counseled, encouraging media professionals to be well-rounded and to share what we have learned. “Reach back, pull up and push forward,” she remembered her mother saying.
Thomas encouraged NABJ members to succeed regardless of the circumstances, and to “turn weaknesses into strengths.” And when it feels lonely, “Do not yield when you find yourself the only one in the room,” he said.
New Orleans, founded by a French Canadian in 1718, was a tale of two cities, the beauty and the beast. Beauty in history, culture, warmth and hospitality, but the memories of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina still linger.
After experiencing a pleasantly educational Katrina bus tour by the Grayline bus company and courtesy of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, it was encouraging to see residents of “The Big Easy” on the rebound with their spirits refreshed and renewed after some crushingly difficult challenges.
One thing’s for certain about the people of “N’awlins”: The more you love them, the more they love you back.
CAPTION: A Katrina memorial in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. The blue columns represent the varying levels of water during the storm.