Freedom’s Children Student Journalists Competition
Meet the winners of the inaugural Freedom’s Children Student Journalists Competition!
Riddhi Sarkar is a junior at American University, studying journalism and international affairs. She is an avid traveler and writer, currently serving as a correspondent for Planet Forward, an online environmental journalism platform and co-editor of American Word, her university’s news and features magazine. She previously served as a reporter and editor for AU’s student newspaper, The Eagle, and an anchor for her campus television station, ATV. Riddhi also enjoys conducting interviews as a citizen historian for the 1947 Partition Archive, a non-profit oral history organization collecting stories of witnesses of the 1947 Partition of India, an issue she is close to since her grandparents were deeply affected by the historical migration. Born in Kolkata, India, Riddhi has lived in New Delhi, Mumbai and Boston prior to attending college in Washington D.C., the city that now acts as a training ground for her aspiration of pursuing a career in journalism with a fervent hope of contributing to a more just society, making sure every story that needs to be heard is told.
Courtney Bublé is a rising senior at The George Washington University studying political science, journalism and women’s studies. She has worked in the communications field in a variety of capacities. These include The White House: Office of Presidential Correspondence, The U.S. Department of Commerce, GW School of Public Health and The Wilson Center. Additionally, she is the Managing Editor for The Rival, a student-run, online publication at George Washington. During her time as a writer and editor for The Rival, she did much investigative reporting and writing on campus politics, events and trends. When she’s not working or studying in Washington D.C., she’s back home on Long Island in New York. Besides journalism, her passions are books, coffee, traveling and bowls of cereal.
Michael Layer is a lifelong learner who recently graduated from Goucher College, a small liberal arts school near Baltimore. He studied communications and French, eventually graduating with degrees in both. During that time, he became an editor of the student newspaper, The Quindecim, played for both Goucher’s Varsity men’s soccer team and the club ultimate Frisbee team, and studied in Paris, France for six months. Layer was so active in his extra-curricular activities – like interning for a non-profit anti-racist organization, working for Goucher’s Sports-Information Department, and often playing the campus tradition Humans versus Zombies game – that he only realized his love for learning in his last year. He took classes in screen writing, North-African cinema, music, political science and philosophy and achieved a GPA of 3.68 in his last year. The day before the 2016 election, a photograph was taken of white members of Goucher’s lacrosse team in stereotypically Mexican garb next to a Trump-like figure which was spread on social media. While the school was first unwilling to share details on the event, Layer was able to uncover how Goucher’s administration decided to reprimand the culpable students. His article was quickly shared and discussed on campus and became the tenth most read article on The Quindecim’s website. His final article uncovered how few professors of color are at Goucher, after obtaining the school’s official statistics.
A rearing by three generations of nurses on her mother’s side led to Katherine deciding to go to college, major in biology, do the med school thing and go on with her white-coat life. However a couple of life experiences later she found herself revisiting this plan and falling in love with the famed words of Robot’s Bigwell: “See a need, Fill a need”.
Now, Katherine Gilyard is a senior at Howard University majoring in journalism and minoring in biology, with the re-intention of pursuing medical school while also magnifying and empowering the voices that have found themselves left behind in the rush to headlines.
In her endeavor to live by these words she works with projects like the Urban Health Media Project which works enables and empowers high school students to report on health disparities in their communities. She also founded “Survivors Instead”, a non-profit organization that provides support and networking resources to women of color who are survivors of sexual assault. She currently serves as the President of Howard University’s National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA) student chapter, The National Student Representative for the NPPA, and the photo and creative editor for 101 Magazine.
After medical school, she plans to work as a practicing medical and health journalist in order to fill the need of women health care providers of color in the healing process, and sleep.
Check back throughout the festival to see news and published articles from these student journalists.
Author and journalist A’Lelia Bundles is at work on her fifth book, The Joy Goddess of Harlem: A’Lelia Walker and the Harlem Renaissance, a biography of her great-grandmother, whose parties and arts patronage helped define that era. On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker—about her great-great-grandmother—was a New York Times Notable Book and has been optioned for a television series starring Octavia Spencer. A former network television news executive and producer for ABC News and NBC News, she is the historical consultant for Madam C. J. Walker Beauty Culture, a line of hair care products developed by Sundial Brands. She chairs the board of the National Archives Foundation and is a vice chair of Columbia University’s board of trustees.
Kyra Kyles is a multi-platform media executive and the former EBONY EIC/Senior Vice President, Head of Digital Editorial where she ran content operations for the magazine’s print, digital and new dedicated special issue outlets. This award-winning multimedia journalist, TV personality, content producer and humor writer originally joined the iconic brand as a Senior Editor for JET magazine in 2011 before jet-setting over to run the site, its all-digital form as an app and eventually EBONY.com and the media mothership itself. Prior to those roles, Kyra worked for the Tribune Company’s millennial outlet, RedEye, where she achieved unprecedented levels of audience engagement for projects including a WGN-TV nightly pop culture/humor segment called “The Kyles Files,” an interactive music competition for indie artists, “The Track Off,” and the mother of all mumblemouth rapper mockeries: “Ringtone Rap Project.” Kyra has been named to the Folio magazine Top 100 media executives, WVON and Ariel Capital’s “Top 40 Under 40 Game Changers” and Chicago Defender’s “40 Under 40 to Watch” lists. She won the coveted Jones-Beck Award from the Tribune for her work turning a humble public transit column, “Going Public” into must-read material.
Gene Demby is the lead blogger for NPR’s Code Switch team. Before coming to NPR, he served as the managing editor for Huffington Post’s BlackVoices following its launch. He later covered politics. Prior to that role he spent six years in various positions at The New York Times. While working for the Times in 2007, he started a blog about race, culture, politics and media called PostBourgie, which won the 2009 Black Weblog Award for Best News/Politics Site. Demby is an avid runner, mainly because he wants to stay alive long enough to finally see the Sixers and Eagles win championships in their respective sports.
About the Freedom’s Children Student Journalists Competition
The Freedom’s Children Student Journalists Competition is an initiative of the Raben Group and the March on Washington Film Festival that provides the opportunity for three student journalists to work as reporters throughout the March on Washington Film Festival. Their coverage will result in a series of articles about the untold stories and unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Era, told through the lens of young people today. These articles will be published in various print and digital outlets around the country. In addition to the opportunity to earn bylines and interview esteemed festival guests, the students will attend a Master Class taught by a former New York Times Journalist, receive one-on-one mentorship, attend journalistic functions around Washington, D.C. and receive a $500 stipend. The March on Washington Film Festival and The Raben Group are happy to invest in the future of journalism and these young journalists.