MLK50 Draws Activists, Organizers, and Future of American Media

Apr 2, 2018

Kenneth Bradley (with camera) and Jaysha Patel interview a visitor outside of the National Civil Rights Museum.
Credit Photo by Syndey Matzko

Many different voices will be broadcast out of Memphis throughout the next week: activists, union organizers, politicians. And then, there are the broadcasters themselves. Among them is a group of young journalists who have come all the way from Ithaca College in upstate New York. Four of them — Brontë Cook, Isabella Grullón-Paz, Kenneth Bradley, and Kylee Roberts — spent Sunday in Downtown Memphis, talking to people about the upcoming MLK50 commemoration. Here, they reflect on why the event has inspired a pilgrimage, of sorts, for both activists and journalists.


Right now I am having trouble — where is the balance? But there is a balance. I want to focus on social justice movements, or things like the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, where we are going to be able to tell people’s stories about their experiences with poverty or racism, oppression. We can extract those stories from people and give them a platform. And, I think that is a form of activism. — Brontë Cook, a freshman from Minneapolis, Minnesota

Christy Calcagno and Isabella Grullon-Paz, with phone.
Credit Photo by Syndey Matzko

Because a lot of the time history is told by the people who win, I mean that’s what we’re told — history is told by the winners. And, statistically speaking, the winners have usually been white and wealthy. So, I feel that as journalists now, our role is moreso to make sure that that history is clear — to literally tell both sides of the story. — Isabella Grullón-Paz, a senior from Colombia and the Dominican Republic  

This is one of the more important stories now in our society, not just because it’s a 50th Anniversary of the death of someone who was so impactful on our country. What he was preaching and what he was trying to get out to the people was [that] we need to accept each other and work together. And, I think we have made strides in that, but we’ve also taken a few steps back along the road as well. — Kenneth Bradley, a senior from Jackson, N.J.

Martin Luther King in my generation is definitely a very good representation of what change looks like. He’s also a very good representation of the kind of movements that we are starting to go on. I just went to the March For Our Lives rally in New York City, and that was a very big moment for children and teenagers and 20-year-olds and everyone else because everyone should be involved in these really big movements that are happening. — Kylee Roberts, a junior from New York City’s East Village

Student journalists from Ithaca College will be reporting on MLK50 for WKNO-FM throughout the week. Their videos and stories will be posted here.