USC Annenberg Launches Media Studies Lab to Preserve and Promote Black Social Changemakers

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While the war around critical race theory raging in classrooms and boardrooms across the country, award-winning journalist and scholar Allissa V. Richardson has her own prime tools for fighting for the truth. At USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalismthe instructor recently founded the Charlotta Bass Journalism & Justice Lab, an initiative to preserve and defend black media creators, community workers and social justice activists.

The lab will be the first of its kind at USC as the premier center for media studies dedicated to archiving, exploring, and sharing the work of individuals and collectives who have played both important and minor roles in the social justice movements in America. This will include web archives or articles and other resources, digitized newspapers, magazines, newspapers, photo projects, as well as digitized 3D objects that help tell the story of West Coast Black culture.

“Bass Lab’s pioneering mission connects traditional journalism with innovative media creation technologies to capture and preserve the many voices of racial and social justice movements,” said USC Annenberg Dean Willow Bay. “It will undoubtedly become a primary destination for black media makers, scholars and journalists.”

Allissa Richardson, bestselling author of Testifying while being black: African Americans, smartphones and the new social justice #Journalismwill also be the first director of the laboratory.

“When most people think of civil rights, they don’t tend to think of Washington, Oregon and California as hotspots for black activism – but the black press tells us a different story” , said Richardson, associate professor of journalism and communication. “For the first time in history, we are building a clearinghouse that will bring together black social justice journalism – in all its formats – while raising the voices of the people who have done it.”

The lab’s first academic initiative will be the Bass Fellowship, designed to create a pipeline of talented student journalists interested in reporting on social and racial justice to enter the field directly.

“Over the past two years, black America has lost so many of its history makers – civil rights leaders, such as Rep. John Lewis and CT Vivian, and socially conscious actors, like Nichelle Nichols and Cicely Tyson “, said Richardson. “There has never been a more imperative time to capture the voices of black icons who are always with us. When we honor them, we help future generations connect the dots between social movements.

The Bass Lab takes its honorable name from Charlotta Bass, the first black woman to be named vice president of a major political party in the United States. She was also the first black woman to own and operate a newspaper on the West Coast.

“Charlotte Bass’s pioneering leadership and tireless advocacy for black people helped establish the culture and makeup of the West Coast we know today. Our goal for the lab is to shine a light on the stories of those who carry on this legacy,” said Myah Genung, program manager for the lab.

The Bass Lab also plans to engage with various media partners to curate relevant academic and experiential programming that reflects its mission.