10 Black News Leaders to Watch For Relevant and Relatable Reporting During Election Year and Pandemic Crisis

As The United States approaches 3.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, it has become increasingly important to hold ourselves accountable for knowing what’s really going on in this country as it relates to our government’s response to COVID-19. From a global perch, Asian and European governments’ posture in favor of a political will to accept science and epidemiology under the leadership of The World Health Organization, has paid off in the quality of life they are now able to offer their citizens. 

With perhaps the exception of Sweden, who chose a herd-immunity approach to combat the pandemic, developed countries across the world are reaping the benefits of a months-long unified and disciplined campaign to halt all activities proven to spread COVID-19. As a result of these measures, The European Union is now reopening and resuming life at a semblance of normalcy, completely restricting travel from the United States. This is a very ironic turn of tables from the beginning of the pandemic when the Trump Administration banned travel from China and Europe, which further proves we are headed in what can only be interpreted in the wrong direction. Given the trajectory of the pandemic in the United States and the propensity that Black and Brown Americans have for both contracting and dying from complications related to COVID-19, we must not just cling to but strengthen the lifeline between Black media and the Black community. 

In states across the country, new positive test results set records every day while even the most staunch Trump-allied Republican Governors cannot avoid acknowledging the fault in reopening their states too soon. If only the same could be said for Fox News, which consistently spends a disproportionate amount of airtime advocating for the protection of Confederate statues instead of accurately reporting about COVID-19. At this point in the Trump administration, Fox News has positioned itself as more of a wing of the Republican party and the Trump reelection campaign than a free press organization.

Understanding what free press means to our democracy and a free society is vital to understanding the media’s role in government accountability and transparency. Here are some of my go-to media; including anchors, journalists, and shows that cover politics from both sides of the aisle reporting the objective, and sometimes subjective facts of the day. Each of these professionals embodies the significance of representation across media by covering politics and current events of the day first-hand, through the lens of Black and Brown experience in America. 

The Reverend Al Sharpton (@thereval) is without a doubt the most veteran activist in this cast of journalists, lawyers, and correspondents. He cut his teeth on the political landscape of the Black Civil Rights movement and was a major player in discussions with the government to memorialize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a national holiday. Commonly referred to as The Rev., when he features on shows across the MSNBC network, he also founded and is president of the National Action Network. The National Action Network is a non-profit civil rights organization and is directly engaged in widely known cases like those of Eric Garner in New York and George Floyd in Minneapolis. The Rev. remains a widely sought after voice for his command of issues of police brutality and Black justice. You can find him on MSNBC on Saturdays and Sundays at 5:00 PM ET when he anchors his show Politics Nation. He also hosts Keepin’ It Real With Al Sharpton, a radio show that airs Monday-Friday from 1:00 PM-4:00 PM ET. 

April D. Ryan (@aprildryan) is the Black Mom and Auntie we all know and very much need in the White House press corps. at a time when the president’s lies and half-truths are substantiated by a communications team willing to affirm this administration’s spin. The buck has often stopped with Mrs. Ryan, who’s an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and has been featured in publications from Vogue to Essence. In addition to her work as a journalist, she is also a three-time author. Her works include her latest publication Under Fire, which catalogs the many times she has spared with White House press secretaries of time’s past to deliver clap backs the world will never forget. Her other works include At Mama’s Knee Mothers Race in Black White and The Presidency In Black and White: My Up-Close View of Four Presidents and Race in America. 

Joy Reid (@joyannreid) is my top choice of anchors on cable news networks covering national news. There are not nearly enough Black female anchors to cover the range of political views and opinions that span Black culture, but Joy Reid can be counted on to speak truth to power with the perfect splash of cultural delivery of first-rate news coverage. Her style is one that makes her coverage relatable and understandable to an audience otherwise disenfranchised by a predominantly White media, that not all Black people gravitate towards. The Harvard graduate is both a respected journalist and anchor, she features some of the nation’s most decorated and respected specialists from varying fields including doctors in her coverage of the pandemic to other political contributors who often grace the panels of her show AM Joy. For now, you can catch her show AM Joy on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 AM- 12:00 PM, but on July 20, 2020, Joy Reid will move to the 7:00 PM Monday-Friday primetime slot anchoring her new show called The Reid Out. One thing is for sure and two things are for certain: her name says it all and you will not regret seeking out Joy Reid!

Widely called upon for her grace and political acumen, Yamiche Alcindor (@yamiche) is a journalist, MSNBC and NBC political analyst, and White House reporter for PBS NewsHour. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated and can be found on shows across the MSNBC schedule from Morning Joe to The Eleventh Hour with Brian Williams. With previous ties to USA Today and The New York Times, Yamiche Alcindor has become a household name in liberal and progressive politics since being named 2013 Emerging Journalist of the Year by The National Association of Blacks Journalists. 

Don Lemon (@donlemon) requires no introduction. As one of CNN’s most popular anchors, and one of their only Black male anchors, Don Lemon rounds out an evening of celebrity-studded primetime coverage on CNN. Don Lemon hosts CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on weekdays at 10:00 PM ET. Lemon has worked across the CNN network since 2006. You may not always agree with Don Lemon, but you will always enjoy watching this witty show with its silver-tongued anchor! This is an hour of political coverage worth having an afternoon coffee to catch. Lemon always tells it like it is and features an impressive panel of political commentators like Angela Rye and Marc Lamont Hill. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon is necessary and measured Black activism in the form of civil disobedience. If you are an early bird like me who can’t always hang until 10:00 PM, check out Don Lemon’s new podcast Silence is Not an Option with Don Lemon. 

Zerlina Maxwell (@zerlinamaxwell) is a writer and just released a book this week called The End of White Politics. This MSNBC contributor can be found on shows across the network of MSNBC wherever the discussion of politics intersects with race in America. Maxwell’s career includes an effort to occupy a seat at the proverbial table while building a new and separate but equal table that showcases Black and women issues alike. She is the Director of Progressive Programming with Sirius XM Radio and an advocate in the areas of campus sexual assault and rape. Zerlina Maxwell is Black Girl Magic personified, catch up with her and get into her bold, sharp, natural approach to her necessary work.

Joshua Johnson has perhaps the most recognizable voices in public radio and has now graced the nation as a weekend anchor on MSNBC Live coverage. He is also an MSNBC contributor who features on shows from Morning Joe to Meet the Press Daily with Chuck Todd. Johnson most notably replaced Diane Rehm Show with A1, which is produced by WAMU Radio and nationally distributed by National Public Radio. A1 covers a plethora of content and is a free and nationally accessible radio show that you can find in podcast form, on SiriusXM channel 122 and of course, on NPR twice a day. Check local listings for times depending on locale coverage. 

Tiffany Cross (@tiffanydcross) is also a personal favorite! She recently released a new book Say It Louder, Black Voters, White Narratives, and Saving Our Democracy. This political analyst and guest host is a key player on the cable news scene, both backstage and in the anchor chair. She has worked on political campaigns, founded The Beat DC, and has worked across platforms and networks like MSNBC, CNN, and SiriusXM. Cross can be found on AM Joy and throughout MSNBC coverage. Notably, she is a Resident Fellow at The Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, also known as the sound of the price going up. Tiffany Cross is unapologetically assertive and confident in her stance on the political landscape and her role in that landscape as a progressive Black woman. As a public and outspoken member of the base of Democratic voters in Black women, Cross’s style highlights the necessity for Black media to interpret and inform the narrative on Black voters. 

Angela Rye (@angela_rye) is unique to this group as a lawyer as well as a political commentator. As the daughter of a prominent community activist in her father, Rye is following in his footsteps. Political activism runs deep with Rye. If you’ve never been privileged enough to catch Angela Rye on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, you’re denying yourself great political debate. The passion that Angela Rye brings to the panels she’s a part of is one recognizable to any Black person, who has experienced the full-body chemical reaction triggered by the weight of a white-dominant society. Angela Rye understands and articulates fully the dynamics between race and politics. Her podcast On One with Angela Rye is a culmination of her life work in the realm of politics, activism, and Black pop culture. 

Last, but not slightly in the least, Ayesha Rascoe (@ayesharascoe) is a White House reporter for NPR with the countenance of a serious and knowledgeable professional. Her work is consistently relevant as she covers breaking news stories and policy coming from the executive branch. Before becoming a White House reporter for NPR, she was White House correspondent for Reuters. Ayesha Rascoe’s career has kicked off over the last two administrations and is someone to follow that you can count on being a voice in the field of politics for some time to come.

If these names and personalities are new to you, familiarize yourself with their careers, coverage, and literature. Follow these leaders in Black political media on social media or download their podcasts! Being a part of political discourse is possible by simply listening. Fifty percent of a conversation lies with being the listener. Tuning in and connecting to daily discussions about the current state and future of our country is attainable. Most of these journalists, anchors, and writers have worked across platforms, networks, and mediums representative of the diverse needs, preferences, and viewpoints of Black people.

By connecting with these journalists, writers, and shows, you can support and encourage more programming and coverage by Black hosts. Representation in the media means that these are people whose parents and families are Black people. For example, Zerlina Maxwell lost five members of her family to COVID-19 related complications since March, which is a reality that many Black families face during a time where ⅓ Black people know someone who has died from COVID. None of these gems can be taken for granted, as they spend their careers lifting the voices of African Americans across the country.


Featured photo: Tiffany Cross

Shanique Perez is the Mom of two elementary-school-aged sons. She is a college student with a Journalism and Public Relations concentration. She has been writing, editing, and proofreading for over six years. Her previous career in recruiting and client retention has sharpened her outreach and public speaking skills. She has written resumes and cover letters for clients. Shanique was born in New York City and the self-identified Afro-Latina American is of African American, Puerto Rican, and Panamanian descent. Shanique Perez grew up in Southeast, Washington, D.C, and attended The Madeira School in McLean, Virginia where her innate ability to communicate through writing evolved into a tool for political, social, and economic activism. She lived in Houston, Texas for six years before relocating back to D.C. after Hurricane Harvey in August of 2017.

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