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.
“Delta Epiphany Spotlights Robert F. Kennedy’s Enduring Social Change Legacy” (Online Audio Documentary)
Based on Ellen Meacham’s acclaimed 2018 book, “Delta Epiphany: Robert F. Kennedy in Mississippi,” award-winning multimedia editor and journalist Regina L. Burns executive-produced, reported, and edited the online audio documentary, “Delta Epiphany Spotlights Robert F. Kennedy’s Enduring Social Change Legacy.” This month on the 53rd anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, Meacham’s book is the tour guide for this online audio documentary.
Burns embedded audio interviews she recorded in 2018 of Meacham and Michael White, one of the then-children whose Mississippi Delta home Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-New York) visited in 1967, with pivotal moments from Meacham’s book. Burns also interviewed Dallas, Texas-based Melinda Guravich, daughter-in-law of the late Greenville, Mississippi-based photographer Dan Guravich, whose photographs graced the book’s front and back covers
Kennedy’s 1968 Presidential Campaign
“Delta Epiphany Spotlights Robert F. Kennedy’s Enduring Social Change Legacy” explores Meacham’s book through NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund attorney Marian Wright’s plea to help the starving people in the Mississippi Delta to Kennedy’s arrival in Jackson, Mississippi, and his heartbreaking anti-poverty tour. Meacham traced the horrible human hunger Kennedy witnessed and the quick actions he took to provide aid as well as the subsequent impact of Kennedy’s anti-poverty awareness campaign, which influenced his decision to run for president in 1968. After he was assassinated on June 6, 1968, many other people carried Kennedy’s anti-poverty work forward, despite challenges and naysayers.
COVID-19 and SNAP
Approximately 25 million SNAP-- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- recipients are now eligible for additional emergency assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year in 2021, the USDA said it would provide the increased emergency aid to SNAP participants who had reached the maximum benefit level and had not already received the increased benefits, which Congress approved in 2020.
Purchase Requirement Dropped for Food Stamps
SNAP’s roots date to 1939 and the Great Depression. Back then and recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people stood in bread lines as hunger swept the country. Meacham provided abundant signposts of Kennedy’s social change journey, and his ongoing influence on various anti-hunger programs such as the 1977 federal legislation that dropped the purchase requirement for food stamps. Prior to that legislation, food stamps had to be purchased. Meacham documented that Kennedy learned, during his ‘Delta Epiphany’ tour, people struggling to put food on the table lacked the financial resources to buy food stamps.
Audio documentary (19:06) and transcript download (.PDF) are below.
Remembering RFK's trip to the Mississippi Delta (Article and "When D.C. Came to the Delta" Video by Junior Walters)
Copyright © June 11, 2021, Regina L. Burns, 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.
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.