Photo Credit: Wiley Price II
Only by the grace of God can the experiences in this article be explained. Only by the miracle of prayer could I have ended up here. There is no way in my wildest dreams I expected to have a summer like this, and it all started with a phone call.
I am currently a rising sophomore at the best school in the world, University of Missouri- Columbia. I am majoring in Journalism with an emphasis in Arts & Culture. My passion is rooted in music, civil rights, and writing. I plan on practicing my ambitions through the art of entertainment journalism and civil rights journalism. I got to practice both of my passions during my time working for The St. Louis American.
The end of my first year in college was approaching. I realized the rarity of landing an internship this early in the game, but I was more than determined to find one. I had gained a lot of experience early in my high school years working as a staff writer and editor for my high school’s newspaper and yearbook. I also started my own website doing local freelance work in Tulsa covering concerts, festivals, artist features, and so much more. I prayed every day upon every application that someone would accept me.
That’s when I was told about the Emma Bowen Foundation. I first heard about them through some of their fellows who mentored me in the Mizzou’s Ale Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.
The Emma Bowen Foundation recruits promising students of color and places them in multi-year paid internships at some of the nation’s leading media, PR and technology companies, providing the media and tech industries with a pipeline of young talent and emerging leadership, and advocating for best practices in diverse hiring, retention, and advancement.
Sandra Rice, vice president of the foundation, called me personally to inform me that I was accepted into the fellowship under a special Democracy Grant that funded me to work for a newspaper that already had diversity. She introduced me to Chris King, managing editor of The American. At this point, I thought I was in a dream to be receiving such great news directly from the leaders of each establishment.
After quickly polishing my resume and a few phone calls later, I was all set to intern at the most renowned black owned newspaper that’s been publishing since 1928: The St. Louis American. Doves flying. Trumpets blowing. To say this opportunity was the biggest honor of my life is an understatement.
On my first day on the job, I was given my own desk with a computer. I was introduced to a phenomenal staff at the paper’s office which sat right in the middle of all the action. King informed me right away that they were going to put me to work, and I could not be more excited to hear those words.
I now have been published in 10 editions of The St. Louis American newspaper (and counting). I have made the front page six times and had the lead story four times.
I got the opportunity to interview the mayor at fancy NAACP banquets, then turned around to interview people at homeless shelters like the one formerly at New Life Evangelistic Center, where Rev. Larry Rice cannot open his doors to an epidemic whose victims are dying from heat due to the city’s refusal to grant the shelter permits.
I witnessed a man get pushed over by a car and a woman who was almost ran over get on top of that same car as it carried her at top speed past a blocked-off ICE protest. I live streamed the event while helping our hard-hitting investigative reporter, Rebecca Rivas, cover the story.
I covered a spot news story that turned out to be the most popular and exciting story I covered for the paper. Wiley Price has been working with the paper longer than anyone else in the office. He has been the paper’s photographer for almost 37 years and his work shooting President Obama being prayed over is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of African American History.
His son, Wiley Price IV, called him to cover protestors shutting down the Gas Mart on the corner of Goodfellow and Delmar, where employees were videotaped kicking Kelli Adams. We got there early enough to see the employees get arrested. The New York Post even republished my story. The community is still fighting for economic justice, and I was proud to have the responsibility in reporting their situation to the rest of the city, state, and country.
Our amazing online and entertainment editor Kenya Vaughn let me cover some entertainment stories. Thanks to her, I had the opportunity to attend and cover my first visit to an all-black circus, The Universoul Circus. My friend and I took photos and covered WWE Live SummerSlam Heatwave show. So I even met real TV superstars during my time at the paper.
I also got the opportunity to cover a black-owned family company that focuses on enriching youth through STEM and Music technology. Ronnie and Tiffany Notch have a beautiful family, and their company Notes for Life is expanding on a national and soon global platform. They invited me to speak to their summer program, Lift Off, held at Saint Louis University. I got to instruct a class on interviews, getting the details in a story, and how to document it all. They ranged from high school sophomores to seniors, and we all had an amazing time.
The best part about my time at The St. Louis American would have to be the people I got to work with along the way, such as the renowned publisher and executive editor Donald M. Suggs. Every time he said he was proud of me, it was noted in my heart as one of the greatest honors I could ever receive.
A special thank you to the entire staff at The St. Louis American, and King for gracing me with this great opportunity to do the work I am most passionate about. I hope to come back next summer and make more memories.
For more information on me, you can follow me on any social media platform @Medley Jones or visit medleyjones.com.