The Freedomways Reporting Project

 

Freedomways is a fellowship program for journalists and storytellers in the U.S. South whose work serves to advance justice.

In an effort to strengthen journalism driven by people who are building power within marginalized and oppressed communities, the program prioritizes women of color and LGBTQ people of color as participants.

We named this program in homage to the journal Freedomways, which published the work of journalists, artists, thinkers, and organizers who were integral to the Black freedom movement from 1961 until 1985.

Over nine months, Freedomways fellows receive mentorship and technical support to produce a series of stories that are rooted in relationships with social movements and communities on the frontlines of struggle.

We are proud to announce the inaugural cohort of our Freedomways mentors and fellows!

Back row, left to right: DaLyah Jones, Aminata Traore’-Morris, Denechia “Neesha” Powell-Twagirumukiza, Ko Bragg.
Front row, left to right: Tina Vasquez, Jonece “Starr” Dunigan, Jen Deerinwater, Dr. Cynthia Greenlee, Clarissa Brooks, Antionette Kerr
Not pictured: Rebecca Centeno

 

Fellows

Aminata Traore’-Morris (she, her, hers) is an enthusiastic cultural curator. In 2018, she launched a literacy initiative, where she published her first children’s book entitled Xavier the Prince: Step Into Africa. With her collegiate education hailing from Lynchburg College and Florida Agricultural University, she prides herself in continuing to learn about various cultures and sharing her experiences. After contracting overseas for three years, Aminata worked in the library system in the Atlanta area for five years where she reconnected with her passion of writing. Her vision is to bring awareness to the cultural richness of her community through engaging and empowering community members to appreciate the valuable heritage. She currently resides in the Low Country on the Gullah Geechee Corridor with her family.

Antionette Kerr (she, her, hers) is a nonprofit leader, media correspondent, author of Modern Media Relations for Nonprofits, publisher of Bold & Bright Media and lover of all poetry. Native of Lexington, NC, she spent her youth living in pockets of economically-distressed neighborhoods. She went on to study journalism and African American history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she began researching and writing about the influence of race, gender, and politics. Kerr has provided training for the National Council of Nonprofits, The Nonprofit Marketing Guide, Bloomerang, and The Nonprofit Academy.  As a journalist, Kerr publishes through stories through The Lexington Dispatch, Women AdvaNCe and The Public News Service.  

Clarissa Brooks (she, her, hers) is an alum of Spelman College, a journalist, and a community organizer. Originally from Charlotte, NC, Clarissa works to blend her love of community, ethical journalism and scholarship in a way that will create a better world. Clarissa has been an ONA HBCU Fellow, Know Your IX Campus Organizer and Summer Fellow for Students For Education Reform. Clarissa has been engaged in community organizing work and journalism for nearly 5 years. From mobilizing communities, hosting teach-ins, leading direct actions, and developing policy her love of community always comes first.

DaLyah Jones (she, her, hers) DaLyah Jones is a reporter and producer for All Things Considered at Austin’s NPR Station, KUT 90.5. She’s also a co-host and creator of the Two&Fro podcast, which addresses trends and issues related to the contemporary black, southern experience. Raised behind the “Pine Curtain” of East Texas, this country girl found her way to “The City” after graduating from Texas State University in 2016 with a degree in electronic media and a minor in communication studies. DaLyah has worked and interned for KUT, Texas Standard, New York public Radio (WNYC) and was a part of NPR’s Next Generation initiative. She occasionally dabbles in music/culture writing for publications like Texas Monthly and Okayplayer when she’s not at the station. One day, she hopes to run her own media organization to further validate and provide solution-based reporting for marginalized communities in the South.

Denechia “Neesha” Powell-Twagirumukiza (they & she) is an activist writer living in Atlanta who conspires in the name of liberated Black futures, queer & transgender Black/indigenous/people of color power, solidarity economics, and transformative justice/community accountability. For nearly a decade, they’ve been engaged in grassroots social justice movements and written about them.

Denechia’s writing has appeared online on Autostraddle, B*tch, Black Girl Dangerous Blog, Black Youth Project, Everyday Feminism, For Harriet, RaceBaitr, Scalawag and in the Grassroots Fundraising Journal and Monday: the Journal of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery at the University of Washington. They graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia with a B.A. in Journalism & Mass Communication.

Jen Deerinwater (prefers no pronouns in the spoken word and she/her they/them in written word) is a Tsalagi-citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma- bisexual, two spirit, multiply-disabled journalist and organizer who covers the myriad of issues her communities face with an intersectional lens. She’s a contributor at Truthout, the Founder and Executive Director of Crushing Colonialism, and is a Freedomways Reporting Project fellow.

Jen received a B.A. from the University of Southern California in Gender Studies and Political Science, a Graduate Certificate in Women in Politics and Public Policy from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and a M.S. in Communications Management from Simmons College.

Jen’s work can be found in publications such as Bitch, Rewire News, and In These Times to name a few. She has been interviewed for numerous outlets on her work and The Advocate named Jen one of their 2019 Champions of Pride. She’s given presentations and trainings to a wide array of audiences on topics such as reproductive justice for Indigenous nations and disability accessibility in grassroots organizing.

While raised in rural areas of Oklahoma and Texas, and a nomad at heart, Jen currently lives in Washington D.C.

Jonece “Starr” Dunigan (she, her, hers) is an investigative reporter with Al.com, a statewide news organization in Alabama. During her three years with a company, Starr has crafted her own beat which focuses on black, LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities. In February 2017, she started the Black Magic Project which was a series of stories about black individuals who embody the empowering and resilient spirit of those who started the Civil Rights Movement. The project has now grown into a multimedia venture with its own Facebook group, where members discuss issues and topics concerning the black community.

Whether it is reporting on a breaking story or developing a social media plan, Starr believes all news outlets should have diverse voices in their content.

Rebecca Centeno (she, her, hers) is a Mexican-American activist media maker and journalist. Her work has been featured on Democracy Now!, The Washington Post, Last Real Indians, Free Speech TV, act.tv, and Deep Dish TV. She co-founded Reels for Radicals, a screening series with Paper Tiger and Deep Dish TV. Her film “Earth Speaks”, about fracking on tribal lands was featured in a number of festivals including The Red Nation Film Festival and the Santa Fe Film Festival. In 2018, she co-founded Voces Sin Fronteras, a Facebook group that seeks to amplify the voices of asylum seekers traveling across Central America to seek a better life. Rebecca holds an MFA from the Integrated Media Arts (IMA) Program at Hunter College.

 

Mentors

Ko Bragg (she, her, hers) is a Mississippi-based reporter covering policing and kids charged as adults. She is currently working on an investigation of her state’s juvenile justice system for Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. She’s been covering officer-involved shootings and the City of Jackson since finishing a double master’s program at Columbia Journalism School and Sciences Po Ecole de Journalisme in Paris. She also does freelance work for The Appeal and Scalawag. 

Tina Vasquez (she, her, hers) is senior reporter covering immigration for Rewire.News, where she uses a reproductive justice lens to report on the communities most targeted by the ‘crimmigation’ system: women and children, pregnant people, Black immigrants, and LGBTQ migrants. (She also sometimes writes about food and culture.) Previously, Tina was an associate editor at Black Girl Dangerous and a freelance writer and editor with almost ten years of experience focusing on immigration, racial justice, and feminism. 

Program Support

Dr. Cynthia Greenlee (she, her, hers) is a writer, editor, and intentionally independent historian based in Durham, North Carolina. She was most recently senior editor at Rewire.News. She also is an editor with the Echoing Ida program of black women and nonbinary writers (and the co-editor of the group’s forthcoming Feminist Press anthology). Cynthia studied journalism, with a focus on public health communication, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She started her writing career working for a small weekly newspaper started by Black nationalists and has worked in diverse newsrooms including one of the nation’s first 24-hour news sites, an alternative weekly, and a daily independently owned newspaper.

After media consolidation made working with newspapers hellish, she began working in communications for international health organizations such as Ipas and FHI 360, where she concentrated on issues of unsafe abortion, HIV, and sub-Saharan Africa. Her writing bylines include Bon Appetit, Civil Eats, Dissent, Elle, Ebony.com, Essence, Literary Hub, Longreads, Narratively, Salon, Smithsonian, the Washington Post, and Vice Munchies, among others. She is considered a leading expert on abortion and Black Americans, and is finishing a manuscript on that topic. Her history work focuses on gender, reproduction, and Black girls in the U.S. South in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

She’s a Leo, is really serious about her dog, gets mad when people assume Blackness to be one thing, and, as a country cosmopolitan, claims Appalachia and the Pee Dee country of South Carolina.