Dorothy-Butlerl-Gilliam, journalist, author, Trailblazer

BlackHer: Trailblazing Newspaper Journalist Dorothy Gilliam

I was pretty pleased to pick up this assignment from BlackHer to write the featured Shero story on Dorothy Gilliam. Gilliam was well known to any newspaper reader in Washington, D.C. in the 1980s and 90s, and everybody Black in the media business.

Dorothy-Butlerl-Gilliam, journalist, author, Trailblazer
Dorothy Butler Gilliam

It was considered more a calling back then than a “business,” per se. One of the things I like most about Gilliam is that she’s from an era before the media became part of the news.

Though their reporting clearly had points of view – and Dorothy was given a license to express her opinions when she became a columnist, after years as a beat reporter – most journalists believed their role was in the background. They might get coaxed into being the emcee at a local benefit auction, but that was as far as celebrit went.

Gilliam is of that era. Although, while building her legendary career at The Washington Post, she was first wife to an artist who became internationally famous during the period of their marriage, she managed a mostly private life. Only now are the rest of us learning certain details of her 20-year marriage to Sam Gilliam, a relationship both extraordinary and extremely ordinary.

Dorothy Gilliam, Cover of "Trailblazer" Photo ©1962, Harry Naltchayan, Washington Post
Young Dorothy at work at The Washington Post (©1962, Harry Naltchayan, Washington Post)

Her book, Trailblazer:A Pioneering Journalist’s Fight to Make the Media Look More Like America, was published in February 2019 by Center Street.

Read the whole story here:

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