VP Kamala Harris' First 100 Days: Black Women Journalists Discuss How Harris is Changing News & Politics

Wed, 24 February, 2021 7:00pm
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SMPA in collaboration with Black Women Unmuted will host a discussion on Wednesday, February 24th at 7PM on how Vice President Kamala Harris is changing news and politics. 

Vice President Kamala Harris made history with her election as the first Black female vice president. Now she faces a job unlike any other in a time unlike any other. What does she face as a politician, a likely future presidential candidate, and as a Black woman in the rough-and-tumble world of Washington politics? What does she need to accomplish in her first 100 days to cement her present as a vice president and tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate? What is her future in the Democratic Party and presidential politics?




Moderated by Jesse J. Holland, Assistant Professor, School of Media & Public Affairs

Sonya Ross, founder and editor-in-chief of Black Women Unmuted, a media start-up that reports out untold stories about Black women in the United States. Sonya launched BWU in 2019 after a 33-year career at The Associated Press that took her on assignment to 48 countries and all 50 states. She became The AP’s first black woman White House reporter in 1995 and, in 1999, the first Black woman elected to the board of the White House Correspondents Association. An Atlanta native, Sonya began her career in 1985, studying for her B.A. in journalism by day at Georgia State University, and working as a library clerk for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper at night. The AP hired her as an intern in 1986 and quickly moved her into political reporting in Georgia. She joined AP’s Washington-based national reporting staff after the 1992 Los Angeles riots, covering civil rights and urban affairs. Beyond reporting roles, Sonya was an editor for AP on foreign affairs and national security, and domestic regional coverage. In 2010, she established specialty race & ethnicity coverage for AP that, over the next nine years, transformed the media’s approach to gathering news for and about people of color. In 2018, Sonya was inducted into the Society of Professional Journalists Hall of Fame. She was the founding chair of the political reporting task force for the National Association of Black Journalists, and currently serves on the boards of the Washington Press Club Foundation, the SPJ Foundation and the National Newspaper Publishers Association Fund. She is a member of the Journalism and Women’s Symposium, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Ayesha Rascoe, White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe’s White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump’s 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama’s final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast. Prior to joining NPR, Rascoe covered the White House for Reuters, chronicling Obama's final year in office and the beginning days of the Trump administration. Rascoe began her reporting career at Reuters, covering energy and environmental policy news, such as the 2010 BP oil spill and the U.S. response to the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011. She also spent a year covering energy legal issues and court cases. She graduated from Howard University in 2007 with a B.A. in journalism.

Errin Haines, editor at large and a co-founder of The 19th, a nonprofit, independent newsroom focused on the intersection of gender, politics and policy. She is also an MSNBC Contributor. Prior to joining The 19th, Errin was national writer on race and ethnicity for The Associated Press, offering sharp news analysis and original perspectives on current events on topics including urban affairs, policing, historically black colleges, civil rights, and the black electorate. Errin has worked at The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Orlando Sentinel. She has also contributed to numerous outlets including NBCNews, NPR, The Guardian, TIME and POLITICO Magazine. Her expertise on issues of race, gender and politics make her a sought-after voice and thought leader in her industry. She has recently taught classes on the role of Black women and the 2020 election at the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and as a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. In addition to her role as a reporter, Errin is a tireless champion for diversity in the media, advocating for more jobs for journalists of color in newsrooms, and for fair and accurate coverage of African Americans in mainstream news outlets. From 2011 to 2015, Errin served two terms on the board of directors for the National Association of Black Journalists as the organization’s Vice President of Print. A native of Atlanta, Errin is based in Philadelphia with her dog, Ginger.


Shawna Thomas, is an award-winning journalist, producer and program executive and the executive producer for CBS News’ CBS THIS MORNING. She joined CBS News from Quibi, where she served as a content development executive working on short-form news programming from CBS News, NBC News and BBC News for the mobile video platform. Her work has earned her recognition from her peers with four Emmy awards, a Peabody, a Gracie Award and two Scripps Howard honors. Before Quibi, Thomas spent three years at Vice News as the Washington, D.C. bureau chief, overseeing politics and policy coverage for HBO’s nightly newscast “Vice News Tonight.” Thomas was behind the program’s major political stories, including the Emmy-winning episode covering the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings, President Trump’s meeting with Russian President Putin in Helsinki and the 2018 midterm election. Thomas also was a senior producer on “Vice News Tonight’s” “Charlottesville” episode, which earned four Emmy awards and the Peabody Award. Previously, Thomas worked at NBC News for just over a decade. From 2014 to 2016, Thomas was a senior producer at NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” where she oversaw the broadcast’s digital profile and helped remake the show when Chuck Todd took over as moderator. Between 2011 and 2014, she traveled the world covering former President Barack Obama for NBC News. Earlier, she was a Capitol Hill producer for the network. During her tenure at NBC News, Thomas was sent on assignments that included political convention coverage, ziplining in Alaska and detainee trials at Guantanamo Bay all while making time to try to get to a karaoke bar if time and scheduling allowed. She began her career at NBC as a news associate in 2006. Thomas earned a BA in political communication from the George Washington University and a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Southern California.