Sunday, January 25, 2009
Time to Celebrate Life, Work of Lionel C. Barrow
This weekend journalism and mass communication education lost a giant and a trailblazer in the passing of Lionel C. Barrow, Jr.
Now in my sixth year as an assistant professor here at the University of Alabama, I know neither my career as a broadcast journalist nor my current full-time role as a journalism professor would have been possible were it not for the hard work of Dr. Barrow.
As a cum laude graduate of the Howard University School of Communications and the 1991 recipient of the Lionel C. Barrow Minority Doctoral Scholarship, I know firsthand the impact Barrow had the lives of so many across the fields of journalism and mass communication.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete as of this writing on Sunday evening. Barrow's passing was announced on Howard University's radio station, WHUR-TV earlier in the day. I'm told that plans are now in the works for a memorial service to be held at Howard University in mid-February.
For the last few years, Dr. Barrow has lived in the Tampa Bay area as his wife, Dr. Frederica Harrison Barrow, is on the faculty in the School of Social Work at the University of South Florida.
Most recently, Dr. Barrow and I sat on a panel at the 2008 AEJMC Annual Convention in Chicago entitled "State of the Division and Discipline: Re-envisioning Minorities & Communication."
I had no idea that would be the last time I would get to hear him talk passionately about the importance of opening doors of journalism and mass communication education to people of color.
He was dedicated even in the final months of his life to diversifying the ranks of our JMC professorate.
Even as I write this posting, I recall Dr. Barrow's suggestions about the research I presented on the panel. Even though I only got to know him in the last seven years, he's certainly been a mentor to me and countless oithers like me who work in this field.
Established in 1970, the Barrow Minority Doctoral Scholarship honors Professor Lionel C. Barrow, Jr., former Communication Theory & Methodology (CT&M) Division head and Dean Emeritus of Howard University.
Dr. Barrow earned his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has held a variety of leadership positions in industry, academia, and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).
His work was noted in a recent article in Diverse Issues of Higher Education on AEJMC's steps to intensify its effort in the area of diversity.
Dr. Barrow was the second dean of the Howard School of Communication, serving from 1975 to 1985, following the tenure of founding dean Tony Brown.
The Barrow Scholarship is intended to aid doctoral students complete their dissertation research and academic studies.
When I received the award at the 2001 AEJMC Convention in Washington, it was my first time meeting the former dean of my alma mater.
Since then, I've become acquainted with his work as Chair of the Commission on the Status of Minorities.
In one of the best ways to honor his work, I recently took a more active role in CSM as the newsletter editor.
It's just one small way I can give back to an organization in which Barrow had such a critical role.
Even now as I await a decision on my application for tenure and promotion, I know that regardless of the outcome, I owe a great deal to Lionel C. Barrow for helping me get to this point.
My life has been richer not only because of my experience as an undergraduate at what is now the John H. Johnson School of Communications in a program Dr. Barrow steered for so many years but also because of the financial support of the Barrow scholarship I completed my dissertation and am making an impact on journalism in a whole other way.
I look forward to the opportunity to continue Dr. Barrow's legacy even as I become more active as a journalism and mass communication scholar and teacher.
Later this year, when AEJMC recognizes the first recipient of the association's Equity and Diversity Award, we will ALL be thinking of Dr. Lionel Barrow. For it was his hard work that helped position the association to bestow such an honor.