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.
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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:
"I am a demanding administrator and she has gone over and above. I give you an example -- she has increased the number of parents who are involved in Parent Portal (a Dallas Independent School District online resource that allows a parent to follow their child's academic progress). Prior to my arrival, the percentage was very low. Thanks to her involvement, the number is 71 percent."
He ticked off a detailed list of Watts' other key accomplishments. All said, her work is driving academic progress and community involvement. And, he praised her hidden talent -- being great with crafts and decorating the school.
"She is a wonderful individual. I wish I could clone her. If I had three or four of her, it would really make my job easier," Welch said.
As a native Memphian, I have known Paula Casey for a long time. Her amazing work is inspiring.
Pan Awsumb has been a dear friend for many years. She and husband Carl have demonstrated integrity and determination and are making a difference in the lives of many in Memphis, Tennessee, and beyond.
Marilyn Calhoun is one of the first people I met when I originally arrived in Dallas. We had the pleasure of working together on various projects and I continue to be enlightened by her compassion and lifelong love of learning. She is also a breast cancer survivor. In 2011, I videotaped her story of breast cancer awareness.
Dr. Mary F. Crawford was my dentist and I am so thankful I was her patient. She saved my smile. And, she became one of the early clients who hired me for marketing projects in Memphis. Beyond that, when I asked for help with the long distance care of my mother in Memphis, she immediately rearranged her life to support me in Dallas. Not only did she help me locate a new Memphis care facility, but she regularly visited my mother and provided me with telephone updates. Months later, when I called her from the Memphis hospital room where my mother had just died, she came to the hospital, immediately, and provided AMAZING support afterward. Thank you, Mary, for helping me when I needed it most!!!!
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Wendy Calhoun is enjoying an unprecedented,
hard-earned level of success as co-executive
producer/writer of the Fox mega-TV-hit "Empire."
I first "met" Wendy through her mother, Marilyn Calhoun, a retired Dallas Independent School District principal, who hired my communications consultancy to do some work for her and to support her breast cancer awareness efforts. She has proudly shared news of Wendy's terrific accomplishments during our years of friendship.
Several weeks ago, I asked Marilyn to inquire whether Wendy would agree to a telephone interview for a Black History Month-kickoff series on success. Learning how my interviewees define success and the evolution of the definition as their lives flow are my goals, and with the popularity of "Empire", I knew Wendy could contribute a lot to the blog series.
Friday night (Feb. 13), from L.A., Wendy talked to me exclusively during a telephone interview about her Dallas roots and how she's achieved success in her TV writing 'empire.' Thank you Marilyn!
Please enjoy the audio excerpts and let me know your thoughts. ~~Regina
Q: I'm curious to know with it being Black History Month, how do you look at this (the success of "Empire") in terms of the history that you're making right now?
Q: How do you respond to the show's success?
Q: Growing up in Dallas, you attended Booker T. Washington High
School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
Q: How did you get from Dallas to L.A., (after graduating from BTW)?
Q: You said you learned to really focus on one type of writing and that made a huge difference in your career?
Cuz taught me to use a broom to help learn the keys on the sax. Then he worked with me on breathing correctly. All of that coupled with Band Director Kurl McKinney's instruction came in handy when the Lincoln Junior High School Band went to the Strawberry Festival in Humboldt, Tenn., back in the day. (See my band photo in the slideshow below).
Kenny Ray went on to become a professional horn player, performing with Rev. Al Green and The Bar-Kays, thanks in part to my mom, Mrs. Rowena Whiting, who bought him his first horn. She also prophesied that he would perform on "The Tonight Show." He didn't believe her and laughed. Years later he called my mom from "The Tonight Show" just before he performed!!
Meanwhile, in high school and college, I put the saxophone down and picked up a microphone, video camera, and other journalist’s tools. This is my Black History Month salute to my 54-year-old cousin, Kenny DeWalt, who shared insights with me about his amazing professional career during an interview Jan. 5, 2013, in Memphis.
Q: Who are some of the entertainers you have recorded or played for?
Q: What is a live recording in a studio like? Take us there.
Q: Any final words of wisdom for us?
Q: What TV shows have you performed on?
Q: Did you see yourself becoming a national and international musician when you were in school at Manassas High School in Memphis, Tennessee?
Q: What's been the most amazing experience you have had during your career?
© 2013 Harvest Reapers Communications; All Rights Reserved.
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.
She previously worked for a variety of news media organizations as an editor and journalist, including The Associated Press in Mississippi and Texas. She was news director at WLOK-AM and WGKX KIX-106 FM in Memphis. Learn more
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