Less than a year ago, The 19th announced its first fellowship for students and graduates of historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs. This week, we’re excited to welcome our first class of fellows to the groundbreaking Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Fellowship, which seeks to create meaningful pipelines for those historically excluded from U.S. newsrooms.
Ashaki “Nzingha” Thompson-Hall, a Morehouse School of Medicine graduate, has been selected as an audience fellow. Jamila Wood, a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, will join the product and technology team as a fellow. Rebekah Barber, a North Carolina Central University graduate, and Daja E. Henry and Katherine Gilyard, both alumni of Howard University, will serve as editorial fellows.
“I know how difficult it is to get the support and preparation needed to cover issues important to our communities; The 19th has set out to change that,” said Kari Cobham, The 19th’s director of fellowships, who is also an HBCU alum.
“We received applications from across the country, but the ones that rose to the top were all from the southeast, all deeply committed to covering those issues. I couldn’t be happier or more impressed with our first class of fellows,” Cobham said.
The fellowship, named for the “mother of African-American journalism,” provides recent graduates and mid-career HBCU alumni with a yearlong salaried fellowship in editorial, audience engagement or newsroom technology. The program includes full benefits, from health insurance and paid time off, to a 401(K) plan.
The program will feature on-the-job training, mentorship and growth opportunities, assistance navigating job placement after the fellowship, and advisory support from Nikole Hannah-Jones, Howard University’s Knight Chair in Race and Journalism, and Howard’s Center for Journalism and Democracy.
The fellowship is funded with a $3.8 million gift from Michelle Mercer and Bruce Golden. Learn more about the fellowship.
“The 19th is committed to building the culture and coverage our industry needs to more accurately reflect who and where we are as a country and a democracy,” said Errin Haines, The 19th’s editor-at-large. “Our fellowship will be an important pillar in that work, and I am thrilled and humbled to welcome this talented and capable group of journalists to join our newsroom in this work.”
Ashaki “Nzingha” Thompson-Hall is a community journalist with bylines in Scalawag Magazine, Canopy Atlanta and The Guardian UK.
Originally from St. Louis, Thompson-Hall earned her Master of Public Health from the Morehouse School of Medicine, with an emphasis in global health, health communications and reproductive health. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in health and society from Beloit College in Wisconsin.
Thompson-Hall was previously co-producer and head writer of the “The Panel ATL” podcast. She is a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant and has managed programs at various reproductive justice organizations in Atlanta.
Thompson-Hall writes to amplify the stories of local communities and utilizes journalism as a tool for social transformation. She lives on Atlanta’s westside and hopes to leave a legacy of “passing the pen and the mic.”
Rebekah Barber is a 2016 graduate of North Carolina Central University with degrees in English and history. She previously worked at the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham, North Carolina, and contributed regularly to the Institute’s online magazine, Facing South.
Her reporting largely focused on racial justice, democracy and Southern history, and was featured in outlets like The Nation and Truthout. Barber’s reporting at Facing South inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in public policy at Duke University, from which she recently graduated.
She has been an editor and social media specialist at Red Letter Christians and a communications strategist with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Barber has also been active in voter registration and education, efforts to raise the minimum wage, and other initiatives. She is deeply committed to working at the intersection of race and poverty in the South.
Katherine Gilyard is a nonprofit founder and a 2021 Howard University graduate.
At Howard, she co-founded the first HBCU chapter of the National Press Photographers Association in the country, served as the chapter president and on the national board as the student representative.
Gilyard has interned at STAT News, NPPA and Kaiser Health News. She was also a multimedia editor at 101 Magazine and the social media chair of the National Association of Black Journalists Visual Task Force.
Her work includes seven years as a victim’s advocate for sexual assault survivors, and more than five years covering the intersections of culture, public health, and science through written and visual reporting.
Gilyard is passionate about health equity, making public health information more accessible and the world a more inclusive and safe place for Black, brown and disabled women and girls.
Daja E. Henry was previously an award-winning reporter at The Daily Memphian where she wrote daily and feature stories about the largest school district in Tennessee and reported on COVID-19 data.
She is a graduate of Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in media, journalism and film communications and holds a Master of Mass Communications from Arizona State University.
Henry has interned at The Wall Street Journal and was a graduate assistant at Cronkite News and Cronkite Noticias. She was also a fellow at the Online News Association’s Student Newsroom and Innovation Lab in 2019 and at Discover the Unexpected, a journalism program from the National Newspaper Publishers Association and Chevrolet.
Also a documentary photographer and amateur genealogist, Henry’s work has taken her to Latin America, the Caribbean and across the United States. She is from New Orleans and lives in Memphis, Tennessee.
As a bilingual journalist, she centers her work on amplifying underrepresented voices and increasing access to information.
Product and technology fellow
Jamila Wood is a recent graduate of Clark Atlanta University and a master’s candidate at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., studying integrated marketing communications. They were previously a digital strategy associate at 44th & 3rd Bookseller.
Wood was a social media intern at The Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing and for Emmy award-winning journalist Jacque Reid, a Meta HBCU News Fellow at Scalawag Magazine, and the liaison for the Camera Collective, which was founded in 2020 by Spelman College and Clark Atlanta LGBTQ+ artists to reclaim narratives, expand impact and create a more liberating future.
Their work has centered the intersection of innovation and creativity. Wood is dedicated to using their love for research and communications to create more functional and accessible user experiences.
Please join us in welcoming Nzingha, Rebekah, Katherine, Daja and Jamila to The 19th!