Trailblazer
Dorothy Butler Gilliam, whose 50-year-career as a journalist put her in the forefront of the fight for social justice, offers a comprehensive view of racial relations and the media in the U.S. Most civil rights victories are achieved behind the scenes, and this riveting, beautifully written memoir by a "black first" looks back with searing insight on the decades of struggle, friendship, courage, humor and savvy that secured what seems commonplace today-people of color working in mainstream media.Told with a pioneering newspaper writer's charm and skill, Gilliam's full, fascinating life weaves her personal and professional experiences and media history into an engrossing tapestry. When we read about the death of her father and other formative events of her life, we glimpse the crippling impact of the segregated South before the civil rights movement when slavery's legacy still felt astonishingly close. We root for her as a wife, mother, and ambitious professional as she seizes once-in-a-lifetime opportunities never meant for a "dark-skinned woman" and builds a distinguished career. We gain a comprehensive view of how the media, especially newspapers, affected the movement for equal rights in this country. And in this humble, moving memoir, we see how an innovative and respected journalist and working mother helped provide opportunities for others.With the distinct voice of one who has worked for and witnessed immense progress and overcome heart-wrenching setbacks, this book covers a wide swath of media history -- from the era of game-changing Negro newspapers like the Chicago Defender to the civil rights movement, feminism, and our current imperfect diversity. This timely memoir, which reflects the tradition of boot-strapping African American storytelling from the South, is a smart, contemporary consideration of the media.

Trailblazer Details

TitleTrailblazer
Author
ReleaseJan 8th, 2019
PublisherCenter Street
ISBN-139781546083443
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, History, Feminism, Writing, Journalism, Race

Trailblazer Review

  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    I am always surprised when I read about a "first" these days ... first black female neurosurgeon candidate was the most recent (never mind that we're so far from parity/equality that it's absurd that these things still happen). Dorothy Butler Gilliam was also a "first" - the first black female reporter at the Washington Post. Having come from covering the Little Rock Nine for one of the country's leading black newspapers, she brought with her a level of experience and talent that could not be ig I am always surprised when I read about a "first" these days ... first black female neurosurgeon candidate was the most recent (never mind that we're so far from parity/equality that it's absurd that these things still happen). Dorothy Butler Gilliam was also a "first" - the first black female reporter at the Washington Post. Having come from covering the Little Rock Nine for one of the country's leading black newspapers, she brought with her a level of experience and talent that could not be ignored by the managing editor.In her memoir, Gilliam describes her work in the civil rights movement, in working to make journalism a more welcoming place for people of color and thus increase its diversity, and her struggles to report on her culture in a way that gave enlightenment rather than reinforcing stereotypes.Given Gilliam's experience as a journalist, it is no surprise that the book is well-written, well-sourced, and intelligent. Gilliam's authorial voice is frank and direct. Getting a look into the newsroom, as well as life for people of color during both Jim Crow (Gilliam grew up in the segregated South) and the civil rights movement gives an immensely useful perspective.Highly recommended.
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  • SundayAtDusk
    January 1, 1970
    Growing up in the South during the Jim Crow era, certainly left Dorothy Butler Gilliam well aware of what it was like to be considered a second-class citizen. Her family, church and community, however, left her well aware that she was loved, was a valuable person, and could succeed in life. Add to that Mrs. Gilliam's burning ambition, and you have a woman who started knocking down barriers in the field of journalism, beginning in the 1960s. After getting a master's degree at Columbia University Growing up in the South during the Jim Crow era, certainly left Dorothy Butler Gilliam well aware of what it was like to be considered a second-class citizen. Her family, church and community, however, left her well aware that she was loved, was a valuable person, and could succeed in life. Add to that Mrs. Gilliam's burning ambition, and you have a woman who started knocking down barriers in the field of journalism, beginning in the 1960s. After getting a master's degree at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she went to work at the Washington Post in 1961. As the first black female reporter hired by the paper, she would soon learn that some of her colleagues would totally snub her outside of the office. She also would soon notice that while blacks made up the majority of the population in Washington, D.C., no one would ever be able to tell that by the stories the Post was publishing. Mrs. Gilliam spent much, if not all, of her years at the paper trying to remedy that travesty, too. Eventually, she would get her own column, something that she very much wanted and valued. Dorothy Butler Gilliam gives credit where credit is due in this memoir. There is no shortage of naming names and honoring those who helped the newspaper world become more diversified, both in their employment practices and in the stories they ran. All those individual and events mentioned, however, sometimes gave the book more of a record feeling, as opposed to a memoir feeling. That in itself is not bad, except that those readers not in the field of journalism, may find it a bit too easy to start skimming over various parts of the story. Nevertheless, it's important to have a record of all that happened in the author's life. It's important to see that some individuals never stopped trying to obliterate all aspects of Jim Crow.(Note: I received a free ARC of this book from Amazon Vine.)
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  • R.E. Conary
    January 1, 1970
    Dorothy Butler Gilliam’s memoir is not a straightforward narrative. It wanders back and forth in time and space as each chapter recalls a compelling aspect of her life and the world around her. She writes a personal history of being black and a woman as both a reporter and as one affected by the attitudes and incidents of the times. Her stories can be sad, uplifting, harrowing and amusing. It’s a good look at how much things have changed, but at the same time makes one realize how tenuous and la Dorothy Butler Gilliam’s memoir is not a straightforward narrative. It wanders back and forth in time and space as each chapter recalls a compelling aspect of her life and the world around her. She writes a personal history of being black and a woman as both a reporter and as one affected by the attitudes and incidents of the times. Her stories can be sad, uplifting, harrowing and amusing. It’s a good look at how much things have changed, but at the same time makes one realize how tenuous and lasting change may be.I received an Advance Reader Copy of Trailblazer.
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  • Maxine
    January 1, 1970
    Forging through the timesMs. Gilliam shares her experience as the first African American woman in the newspaper business at the Washington Post. She accurately overlays the many changes in the American society for African Americans. Ms. Gilliam acknowledges the many people who supported her during her career and offers other supports in her life which brought her peace and joy.
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    Please see my review on Amazon. com under C. Wong. Thank you,
  • Scott
    January 1, 1970
    Another super important book about the work being done to improve diversity in journalism and the people we owe a debt of gratitude.
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