My journalism professor, mentor, and guiding light, Dr. Charlie Marler, died May 27, 2022, and I plan to write a series of blog posts about the impact he had on my and his other former students’ journalism and media careers.
Second Post: Searching for Healing, June 4, 2022
Furthermore, this week, I visited ACU’s Journalism and Mass Communication Department to search for healing of my grief through conversations with members of the JMC community and to celebrate my days as a former KACU announcer/JMC student. Meeting some of the current students and staff, as well as touring classrooms, offices, ACUTV, and the Morris+Mitchell student agency contributed to my healing journey. As the first Black person and the first woman to receive ACU's Gutenberg Award, which Marler created, touching familiar ground was a smart step.
Additionally, I advanced my graduate history studies by meeting with two ACU librarians, Melinda Isbell and Laura Baker. They steered me to a wealth of resources and academic research strategies. Their invaluable guidance advanced my goal to fulfill Marler’s wish that I become a historian, specializing in African American history in Texas.
Moreover, due to a series of unplanned events, I met an ACU staffer, Evan Steele, who went out of his way to support my goals to honor Marler’s legacy, and also, become a Texas historian. Steele offered support and great foreign-language study tips, which will help me prepare for forthcoming Spanish exams for graduate school.
From Journalism to African American History in Texas
I am proud to announce I was awarded a scholarship from the Dulaney Family Fund for my fall 2021 graduate studies in history at the University of Texas at Arlington. I received the scholarship in August 2021 from UTA Professor Emeritus William Dulaney, Ph.D., who is also Deputy Director/COO of the African American Museum of Dallas.
Download my map quiz here.
Currently, I am enrolled part-time in the master’s in history program at UTA. My long-term goal is to earn a doctorate degree specializing in African American history in Texas. I decided to follow the advice of my former Abilene Christian University Communication Law Professor Dr. Charles Marler, who encouraged me to pursue becoming an African American historian. He said there aren't enough Black historians and that I had the wherewithal to become one. Wow! He shared that advice after I told him about two of my Texas Highways magazine stories.
I listened and am almost finished with my first semester. Returning to graduate school was definitely the right step. The courses are intellectually satisfying and I am well-suited to part-time graduate work.
Watch video of Dr. Marler discussing libel.
Narrative: The heart of history and journalism
Just like in journalism, the narrative or story is at the heart of a history thesis or argument. And, as importantly, I use my award-winning journalism expertise in fascinating new ways in my history courses. For example, I recently posted two summaries of two history book reviews on a discussion board. I wrote several historiography papers that analyzed various themes. In each instance, my journalism background served me well in synthesizing complex information.
One of the reasons Dr. Marler advised me to consider graduate work in history is because he had studied "journalism and Black history at the University of Missouri-Columbia," which he wrote about in my recommendation letter. I was so impressed that he had studied Black history in graduate school. He also shared that well-known axiom, "Journalism is the first rough draft of history."
When I graduated with my M.A. in Journalism Administration degree from the University of Memphis, I sensed I would return to a university to learn more about the art and craft of the narrative. This time, I am aiming for a doctorate in history because of the abundant overlooked, underreported, and forgotten African American history in Texas content yet to be discovered, researched, and published. I look forward to one day researching, writing and teaching that history on all platforms, in and outside of academia. Meanwhile, I keep helping organizations and clients tell important stories while enjoying a new take on a familiar ride.
Read my other UTA graduate school recommendations:
‘The Fight for Civil Rights in the South’ is on display through Memorial Day, May 31, 2021, at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.
About the Author:
Regina L. Burns, M.A., Project+, is an award-winning multimedia editor and journalist, specializing in Black history and African American stories at Harvest Reapers Communications. Her work has been published in Texas Highways magazine, WFAA-TV, The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as well as The Commercial Appeal, the Tri-State Defender and The Flyer, among others.