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Queen of Faux Finishing-Painting Workshops to Attempt New Guinness World
Q: Do you have or do you make [New Year's] resolutions?
Norma Adams-Wade broke the story that Dallas' two distinctive parades honoring civil rights leader Rev. Martin L. King Jr., were facing massive changes.
Her original reporting led to a request for more Morning News staffers to cover the controversy, which eventually resulted in Dallas having one MLK parade Jan. 18, 2016, instead of two.
She has been making journalistic history for decades and has no plans to stop any time soon.
Adams-Wade first made history in 1974 when R.E. "Buster" Haas literally came to her front door to hire her as the first black full-time staff writer to report about all of Dallas. She made history again Dec. 12, 1975, as one of the 44 founders of the National Association of Black Journalists to convene in Washington, D.C., to launch the organization. She was among the 12 cofounders who attended a 40th NABJ anniversary celebration in December 2015.
The columnist and former senior staff writer retired from the Morning News in 2002. In 1988, she started writing a column devoted to events in Dallas' black community, which she writes weekly.
Adams-Wade is quick to mention a name not heard much these days: Julia Scott Reed, whom the Morning News hired to cover the black community in 1967, making Reed the first black staffer at the newspaper.
You should also know that December was a busy month for Adams-Wade because the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Black Journalists honored her and several others at its holiday mixer. And that event is where I learned about all that she did to further the profession. We discussed my interest in writing about her trailblazing career and you can listen to excerpts of the Jan. 11, 2016, telephone interview to the left.
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“The poor man is not he who is without a cent, but he who is without a dream.” –Kemp
Since 1999, Madden has been writing proposals and scripts, locating talent and other resources as director of Irving’s MLK tribute, held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day or a date close to the federal holiday. Madden is special events supervisor for Irving’s Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees the MLK series, a unique, thought-provoking, and creative experience in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“We have a rehearsal on the day of the event. In total we get to have eight hours of rehearsal. And that's because of funding. It's kind of stressful because we don't know how something is going to look,” said Madden during a telephone interview.
“The money comes from the city of Irving and this year we got $10,000” of which $3,500 paid for a facility (rental) fee to the Irving Arts Center, where the performance is held, she said. “Ideally I would like to get a title sponsor for this event. I would like a title sponsor to put its name on it because I think that is a good show.” Each year the Greater Irving Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce provides a dessert reception after the show.
No Charge, ‘Quality of Life’
“I have people tell me they can't believe it's free. The city provides a service and it is available to the general public. I think that's to be commended,” Madden said.
Irving Parks and Recreation Director Ray Cerda wants it known that “this is not a revenue-generating program” because the purpose is to celebrate King’s life. Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation Joe Moses backs him up: “When you look at the Parks and Recreation Department, we want to enhance the quality of life. What's more fitting than to honor the philosophy of Dr. King for our residents?”
Moses said the MLK program started in the mid-80s at what is now the Georgia Farrow Recreation Center. At that time it was community-based. In the mid-90s, the performance moved to the Irving Arts Center and became a citywide event, he said.
Madden gets ideas for the show from King’s life.
“When I start reading about him I find something new to talk about. The script has already been preset. It's just a matter of researching his life and finding what new thing we are going to share. Isn't it amazing that we are still talking about this man and coming up with something new?” Madden said.
Back to King’s Ministry
She said she asks for “divine guidance” each year in preparation for the MLK performance and believes Irving’s commitment has generated “some good friends over the years such as Dallas Black Dance Theatre and (nationally acclaimed gospel singer) Brenda Ellis.” The audience echoed Madden’s belief by showing its appreciation for Ellis’s dynamic performances.
Madden traveled to Memphis last April and for the first time toured the National Civil Rights Museum, which includes the Lorraine Motel, where King stayed during his efforts to help striking Memphis sanitation workers. King was assassinated on the Lorraine’s balcony April 4, 1968.
“I got inspired from going to Memphis on a personal trip and visiting the Lorraine Motel. I got inspired that somebody had to talk about the preacher in him. At the core of everything he has done, he was a preacher. I proposed the idea in May after I figured out (how) to work it out. I wanted to go to Atlanta, but it didn't work out.”
Madden’s research, travel and inspiration were delivered in the Jan. 19 tribute “The Ministry of Dr. King: From the Pulpit to the Nation.” Throughout the event, video clips of King played explaining his ministerial and civil rights journeys. And, the opening act danced the show right into Madden’s mandated “back-to-the-church” setting.
DBDT II’s rip-roaring, foot stompin’ performance to “Long as I Got King Jesus” by gospel recording artist Vickie Winans stirred things up.
“I thought it was fabulous (laughs). I thought the talent in the entire show was wonderful,” said Ray, a 25-year veteran dancer who previously danced in Irving’s other MLK programs with DBDT’s main company.
“It is always a pleasure for us to come out to the collaboration. It's wonderful to have been a part of it for all these years. Jackie Madden is such a wonderful woman. We love her,” Ray said.
It’s been a busy month for DBDT II. On Jan. 12 at the Dallas Museum of Art, the company premiered a Ray-choreographed new piece based on the work of contemporary artist Jim Hodges. Dancers in Ray’s opening sequence used colored flashlights to reflect her vision of Hodges’ The Subtle, The Sum…Give More Than You Take. And the piece concluded in a flourish with members of the audience responding to Ray’s request to speak aloud a word of their choice. Simultaneously this month, DBDT hosted the 26th annual conference of the International Association of Blacks in Dance, Jan. 16 - 19 in Dallas.
Martin and Mahalia
During Irving’s MLK show, audience members jumped to their feet when award-winning DFW performer Sheran Goodspeed Keyton, portraying gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, sang and sang. Frequently, Jackson sang at King’s civil rights events, and, also at his funeral.
The Mahalia Jackson set included speeches by actor Donovan Wheatfall, who portrayed King. Their performances were from The Upper Room by diannetucker.
“When the actor who portrayed Dr. King spoke, he brought awe through the audience,” said Moses, who frequently sits in the audience and watches people's responses as part of his assistant director responsibilities on behalf of the Irving Parks and Recreation Department.
National Park Service Receives Civil Rights Award
Madden got the idea to give the National Park Service the city of Irving’s 2014 Civil Rights Legacy Award after “reading that he (King) couldn't go to public parks (due to Jim Crow laws). Then I thought, ‘isn't that something?’ I went to the dedication (of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial) and realized how ironic it is that the National Park Service is running the site. We don't see a lot of stuff that's in front of us.”
Russ Whitlock, superintendent of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, accepted the award in an exuberant speech. Read his remarks.
In 2012, attendees received an oversized poster that read “Love Not Hate.” Madden said it is similar to the “I Am A Man” poster that (the sanitation workers used in Memphis).
This year’s commemorative gift was a church fan bearing the same image as the cover of the program distributed to attendees.
“(When) I think of church, (I think of) back in the day when they had fans and they were just passing the fans out. I can't imagine any black person who didn't have a fan before we got air conditioning. The stained glass window represents the church. And we also found a photo with the reflecting pool and we are reflecting between the church and the nation,” Madden said.
Irving’s MLK series was honored in 2006 with an Arts and Humanities Award, Class II, by the Texas Recreation and Park Society.
The next year the Southwest Regional Council of the National Recreation and Park Association honored Irving with another Arts and Humanities Award, Class II.
Madden said she entered the 2013 performance "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" and expects to find out within the next month whether it won an award. Ray Cerda uses an essential barometer of success to measure the series’ impact: attendees’ praise and support.
“We survey our customers. The results we get from our survey shows people want to see this year in and year out. I give a lot of credit to Jackie and her team for raising the bar, year in and year out,” Cerda said.
Madden may be reached at email@example.com.
(c) 2014 Harvest Reapers Communications; All Rights Reserved.
I wrapped up the Dr. King holiday by attending the City of Irving's annual program. This year’s theme is "A Living Memorial: The Man, The Message, The Monument."
Written and adapted by Jacqueline Madden, who is special events coordinator at the Irving Parks and Recreation Division, the program focused on the Washington, D.C.-based MLK Memorial.
Attendees received a commemorative poster emblazoned with "LOVE NOT HATE" which aptly captured the sentiment of last night’s program. Madden weaved together vintage and recent King-related video, stellar musical performances by violinist Richmond Punch and vocalist/author Brenda Ellis and more. The program also included speeches and performances by the amazing Dallas Black Dance Theatre II—all designed to educate the audience about Dr. King’s message of "justice, democracy, hope and love."
If you have not attended Irving's MLK program, please put this on your calendar for next year. This was my fourth year to attend Irving's observance and I always leave enlightened and amazed.
Earlier in the day I went to the MLK parade in Dallas and plan to upload a video to the YouTube channel, when it’s edited.
Recently while looking at old photos, I was transported back to the days of my first TV news job. Furthermore, I was reminded that both photography and videography have been in my world for years because I started shooting stills as a teenager.
No one in my immediate family had a camera nor did I take formal photography classes in college. Somehow I got my hands on a still camera (remember 35mm film that had to be developed?) while growing up in Memphis, Tenn., and started snapping away.
Leeson worked for the Abilene Reporter-News at the time.
This photo is my personal favorite. I was covering breaking news and remember asking the man in the photo would he please hold my recorder? Holding the heavy camera, wearing the battery pack around my waist and struggling with the recorder slowed me down, especially on breaking news.
So I learned to be creative
and innovative, constantly.
I took lots of pictures of my late father. Daddy never met a stranger and loved to tell stories about growing up in Mississippi. We visited his parents’ graves one year and he enthralled me with tales about chopping cotton and growing up on a farm. I took a picture of Daddy that day and every time I look at it, I am reminded of the enormous strength and courage he and my paternal grandparents had.
Another picture in the family album shows my mother with my late aunt. They were thick as thieves, as the saying goes. I have a photo of Ma Dear in her 20s, taken before I was born. She totally had it going on and knew it. I wish someone had taken pictures of her with my maternal grandparents on the plantation in Arkansas. I respect and admire the fortitude they possessed in order to survive and, I am proud to be their descendant.
One of the toughest TV stories I ever covered was that of a child who had been run over and killed while riding his bicycle. Listening to the police scanner in order to get to breaking news as quickly as possible was part of the job. I arrived on the scene before any other media and even beat the police – that’s how I got the nickname “spot news queen.”
I looked under the truck and saw this small boy, not moving, his bicycle close by. When a colleague arrived on the scene, she told me I had turned green. I never took any footage under the truck.
The camera attracts all kinds
I had an assignment in Anson, Texas and someone in the audience got upset because I was shooting video. Or maybe it was because she hadn’t seen that many African-American journalists. All I know is that she walked up to me and said, “Turn that camera off. You’re shining that light in my eyes.”
I looked at her, turned away and kept shooting. All shooters know that keeping the camera rolling in such situations is always the smart move. I kept doing the job I was sent there for and the lady eventually went back to her seat. My supervisors in the newsroom told me that if anyone ever laid on hand on me, the company would press assault charges against them.
I must confess I got starstruck on some stories, like when Roots author Alex Haley (above) spoke to students at a Memphis school or when then-ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings showed up at WFAA-TV’s newsroom one November morning. Those times I got my picture taken with them, realizing this miracle wouldn’t happen again.
In this photo, also taken by Leeson, I was on assignment on the road to “journalism glory,” at least that’s what every young journalist hopes for, right? It’s only later that you learn about the long hours and the necessary internal fortitude required to report breaking news that often includes tragedies.
I did experience “journalism glory” in the form of national awards from NABJ, the former AWRT and regional recognition
from the Tenn. Associated Press
Broadcasters Association, among others. While reporting at KRBC-TV, I sold a story to CNN! Now that was glory and good money!
I am very proud of the numerous college and high school students trained in a broadcast internship program I created and oversaw at WGKX-KIX 106 FM in Memphis. Several years ago, I teamed up with fellow Associated Press colleagues in Mississippi and New Orleans. Together we sent several Associated Press Stylebooks to Dallas, Texas for an Urban Journalism Workshop, in what I called “Stylebooks for Students.”
One trick I learned was to set a light stand in the exact spot where I wanted to shoot my stand up because in a small market, I was a “one-woman band.” That means doing the following: covering the story (reporting), shooting video, then writing the script and voicing the audio track during the editing process. It’s a great way to learn unforgettable skills.
Here’s how I did it:
First, I set the camera on a tripod. Then I stood next to the light stand and raised it to my height. Third, I got back behind the camera and recorded the light stand to ensure the shot would work. Fourth, I checked the tape. Next, I removed the light stand and recorded a couple of stands up, which I edited into the story back at the station.
The trick to being a great “one-woman band” was to shoot just enough video, so the editing process wouldn’t take long.
Notice I used the word “shoot” or a variation several times because that’s what we called it when we took pictures with the camera; we were "shooting."
Today I use a digital camera that shoots stills and of course video, and it’s light as a feather.
I wouldn’t take “nothing for my journey” with photography/videography in the exciting and always chaotic world of news.
22-Year Dallas Breast Cancer Survivor’s Triumphant Story
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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