Photo of someone holding a banner reading "Stop Killing Black People" during a Black Lives Matter protest.
Photo by: Miki Turner

Lessons to be learned

The late Gil Scott-Heron once wrote that a song called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” It was. Those of us old enough to remember saw the assassinations of Kennedy-King-Kennedy, the horrors of the Vietnam war, the massacre at Kent State and all of the peaceful and more “spirited” rebellions play out on our TV screens in an era when we had to wait on it.

Today, we see things as they happen. Technology has not only allowed us to view the revolution, but the evolution as well. With the recent death of George Floyd, a name that should never be forgotten for the senseless way in which he died, it occurred to me that USC Annenberg students should seize this moment. Sure, we were on summer break and some of us were still adhering to COVID-19 shelter-in-space mandates, but this assignment would only require Reagan Griffin, Jr., Jordan Hunter, Julio Martinez, Luke Scorziell, Twesha Dikshit, Simrin Singh, Amy Altman, Jamia Pugh, Mia Hairston, Brenda Vega, Amanda Ani-Offiong, and Daric Cottingham to search their souls.

This is their time.

As faculty we not only need to nurture their talents, but we are also tasked with helping them develop their voices so that they can use the power of their collective platforms to effect change. These essays reflect the pain, confusion, dismay and hopelessness that our current students and recent alums are experiencing in a world that is unfamiliar to us all — even those of us who were alive and woke during the turbulent ’60s.

They have successfully recorded these moments in their own way. By doing that, our hope is that they realize that all of these things are happening for a reason and that it’s their job as journalists and human beings to stay on top of this ever-evolving story.

There are lessons to be learned.

I applaud them for having the courage of their convictions. I salute Dean Willow Bay and our journalism school director, Gordon Stables, for having the vision to conceive this project and our subsequent forum to discuss the pertinent issues we must address as a school to effectively take our next steps in a positive direction. I am truly grateful to professor Christina Bellantoni and her staff of student editors for making this happen, as well as Emily Cavalcanti, who heads up our communications office. Lastly, a big virtual hug and thanks to everyone at USC Annenberg for your support of this project and the work that you do daily to keep us safe, inspired, enlightened and woke.

Collectively, we’ve all put the evolution on blast.

Read the students’ essays here.