July 12, 2024

Journalist April Ryan to Deliver MLK Keynote

White House Correspondent and CNN political analyst April Ryan will deliver the keynote address during UMW’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. Ryan will present her talk on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. in the University Center’s Chandler Ballroom.

Journalist April Ryan will deliver the keynote address during UMW's Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Journalist April Ryan will deliver the keynote address during UMW’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on Wednesday, Jan. 24.

An acclaimed journalist who heads up the Washington, D.C., bureau of American Urban Radio Networks (AURN), Ryan is a longtime correspondent on Capitol Hill, having served as a reporter there since 1997.

“I just realized Saturday will mark 21 years at the White House!” she tweeted yesterday.

During that time, Ryan has covered the presidential administrations of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. She’s gained recent attention for her rocky rapport with President Trump and former press secretary Sean Spicer, both of whom have balked at her tough questions in defense of minorities.

Dubbed “one of America’s most successful black journalists” by Newsweek, Ryan is among a handful of African-American press correspondents in the White House, where she’s the only black female reporter covering urban issues. She’s one of just three African-Americans to serve on the board of the 100-plus-year-old White House Correspondents’ Association.

“We are delighted and honored to welcome Ms. Ryan to UMW,” said Director of Multicultural Affairs Marion Sanford. “We look forward to her sharing her experiences, both in journalism and as a person, and her perspectives on civil rights, social justice and race relations.”

Ryan is the author of two books, The Presidency in Black and White: My Up-Close View of Three Presidents and Race in America, which was nominated for a 2016 NAACP Image Award, and At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White, which examines race relations through the lessons mothers pass on to their children. She reaches millions through AURN and through her blog, Fabric of America, devoted to the issues and stories of minorities in the United States.

“April Ryan is a true trailblazer and truth seeker,” said Sarah Glover, president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), which named Ryan 2017 Journalist of the Year, crediting her with “unusual insight into the racial sensitivities, issues and political struggles of our nation’s last three presidents.”

Her keynote address, sponsored by the Office of the President, is among several events set to take place during UMW’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, which is hosted by the James Farmer Multicultural Center (JFMC).

  • MLK Jr. Kids Day, which takes place Sunday, Jan. 14, from 3 to 5 p.m., at Fredericksburg’s James Monroe High School, features games, activities and crafts, and is sponsored by the Fredericksburg Area Partnership for Academic Excellence.
  • Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise Discussion & Documentary takes place Monday, Jan. 22, at 6:30 p.m., in the University Center’s Colonnade Room.
  • MLK Jr. Day of Service, set for Saturday, Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the University Center’s Chandler Ballroom, offers opportunities for students to give back to the community in honor of Dr. King, through service projects donated to Fredericksburg-area agencies. A discussion about servant leadership and social change, along with continental breakfast and lunch, are included.

“Especially on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination,” Sanford said, “it’s important to reflect not only on the issues of his time but also on how we’ve progressed and the challenges our nation still faces today.”

All MLK Day events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. Registration is required for some events and is available online at MyUMW. For more information, contact the JFMC at 540-654-1044 or umwjfmc@gmail.com.