• Trailblazer

  • A Pioneering Journalist's Fight to Make the Media Look More Like America
  • By: Dorothy Butler Gilliam
  • Narrated by: January LaVoy
  • Length: 8 hrs and 58 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (78 ratings)

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Trailblazer  By  cover art


By: Dorothy Butler Gilliam
Narrated by: January LaVoy
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Publisher's summary

Dorothy Butler Gilliam, whose 50-year-career as a journalist put her in the forefront of the fight for social justice, offers a comprehensive view of racial relations and the media in the US.

Most civil rights victories are achieved behind the scenes, and this riveting, beautifully written memoir by a "Black first" looks back with searing insight on the decades of struggle, friendship, courage, humor, and savvy that secured what seems commonplace today - people of color working in mainstream media.

Told with a pioneering newspaper writer's charm and skill, Gilliam's full, fascinating life weaves her personal and professional experiences and media history into an engrossing tapestry. When we read about the death of her father and other formative events of her life, we glimpse the crippling impact of the segregated South before the civil rights movement when slavery's legacy still felt astonishingly close. We root for her as a wife, mother, and ambitious professional as she seizes once-in-a-lifetime opportunities never meant for a "dark-skinned woman" and builds a distinguished career. We gain a comprehensive view of how the media, especially newspapers, affected the movement for equal rights in this country. And in this humble, moving memoir, we see how an innovative and respected journalist and working mother helped provide opportunities for others.

With the distinct voice of one who has worked for and witnessed immense progress and overcome heart-wrenching setbacks, this audiobook covers a wide swath of media history - from the era of game-changing Negro newspapers like the Chicago Defender to the civil rights movement, feminism, and our current imperfect diversity. This timely memoir, which reflects the tradition of boot-strapping African American storytelling from the South, is a smart, contemporary consideration of the media.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Dorothy Butler Gilliam (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"Dorothy Gilliam is that most rare of revolutionaries, one who not only climbs the barricades, but lets down a ladder to help others up, too. In her more than six decades at the centers of journalism in New York and Washington, she has often been the first African American woman and the best of everything. Her memoir shows us that a few can be both, but no one should have to. We will have no democracy until each of us can be our unique individual selves."—Gloria Steinem, feminist activist, writer, editor, lecturer who also helped create New York and Ms. Magazine

"Dorothy Gilliam is a great reporter, a pioneer for all women in the news business, and African-American women particularly. Her story is about a time in American journalism where courage and brilliance were called for in the white-male bastions that were American newsrooms. It's a story that has been waiting a long time to be told."—Carl Bernstein, Pulitzer prize-winning reporter of Watergate Fame"

"Dorothy Gilliam didn't just shatter racial and gender barriers at The Washington Post, she shattered the journalistic view that white 'objectivity' was the only way of seeing the world. Gilliam pioneered a way of writing about African Americans that was accurate, balanced and compassionate-principles that had only applied to the coverage of whites before she arrived. The courage and intellectual rigor that it took for her to become the first African American woman journalist at the Post makes her a revered elder among black journalists today. Transforming the practice of journalism and paving the way for others makes her a legend for all time."—Courtland Milloy, fellow columnist at The Washington Post

"I would like to take this opportunity to support publication of Dorothy Gilliam's memoir, First Black Woman at The Washington Post, Dorothy Butler Gilliam's Life and Role in the Struggle to Diversify the Media. I began researching Ms. Gilliam's background several years ago when researching a book (scheduled for publication in September 2017) about the reporters who were on the Ole Miss campus during the 1962 integration riot. Ms. Gilliam is one of 12 reporters featured in the book because of her experiences as a woman in journalism, and as an African-American reporter during the civil rights era. Her background speaks of a woman who faced challenges, and did not let them stop her, and, as a woman who used her profile to lecture and encourage a generation of journalists to succeed no matter the barriers set into place. She has many stories to tell, the writing skills to do the job and the eye for detail that should result in a stunning memoir."—Dr. Kathleen Wickham, Professor/Journalism, School of Journalism & New Media, The University of Mississippi