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The Inquirer Presents: Dorothy Butler Gilliam in conversation with Jenice Armstrong

Feb 19, 2019 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM

The African American Museum in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

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Event Summary

Please join the Philadelphia Inquirer and the African American Museum in Philadelphia for a conversation with Dorothy Butler Gilliam, the first black woman reporter at The Washington Post and author of Trailblazer: A Pioneering Journalist's Fight to Make the Media Look More Like America.

This Black History Month, Dorothy Gilliam and Inquirer columnist Jenice Armstrong will discuss Ms. Gilliam’s more than 60-year career as a journalist, her experience being a witness to the ongoing civil rights movement, and her never-ending fight for diversity in America’s newsrooms. Ms. Gilliam’s book will be on sale at the event and guests will have the opportunity to have them autographed.

Guests will have access to the museum's galleries during the event, including two of AAMP's current exhibits: Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776 - 1876 and Cotton: The Soft Dangerous Beauty of the Past.

Admission is free but registration is required. Refreshments will be served.


The African American Museum in Philadelphia

701 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Event Details



6:00 pm - Reception and Registration

7:00 pm - Dorothy Butler Gilliam, in conversation with Jenice Armstrong

8:00 pm - Q&A and book signing

8:30 pm - Program ends



Dorothy Butler Gilliam is a former reporter, editor, columnist, author and educator, who made history as the first African American journalist hired by The Washington Post. Gilliam began her journalism career as a reporter for The Memphis Tri-State Defender, a black weekly, where she covered the Little Rock Nine.

She has been a reporter of, and advocate for, civil rights and social change throughout her life.

Gilliam joined The Post in October 1961, as a reporter on its City Desk. During the turbulent early 1960s, she covered major civil rights events, including the 1962 integration of the University of Mississippi. In the mid-60's, Gilliam left The Post to devote more time and attention to her young children. However, she kept a hand in journalism as a part-time reporter for WTTG's television program, "Panorama" in Washington, D.C., and also wrote free-lance magazine articles. She returned to The Post in 1972 as its Style section assistant editor. That section became so popular it was emulated by many other major U.S. newspapers.

In 1979, Gilliam turned her journalistic skills to opinion writing as a columnist for The Post. Her column ran in The Post’s Metro section for 19 years. She opined about education, politics and race, as well as wrote about her own personal experiences. In 1998, she left editorial writing to found and develop the Young Journalists Development Program, a long-term initiative of The Post to educate, cultivate and hire aspiring young minority newspaper journalists. Gilliam retired from The Post in June 2003. She also worked as an associate editor for Jet Magazine for two years.

Gilliam served as the Shapiro Fellow at The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs for the 2003-2004 academic year, and has served since 2004 as senior research scientist and Founder/Director of Prime Movers Media. She served as board of directors chair of the Robert Maynard Institute for Journalism Education from l985-l992. She is a former president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Other honors include: Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Washington Press Club Foundation in 2010, and induction into the Society of Professional Journalists’ Hall of Fame in 2002 by the Washington, D.C. Chapter. She was inducted into the NABJ Hall of Fame in 1992; won the University of Missouri Honor Medal in Journalism in 1998; the Unity Award in Journalism from Lincoln (Mo.) University; and the Ann O'Hare McCormick Award from the New York Newspaper Women's Club while a student at Columbia.

Gilliam is the author of Paul Robeson, All American, and is a contributor to The Edge of Change: Women in the 21st Century Press: 2009. She has also chapters in a number of other anthologies. Her memoir, “Trailblazer,” chronicling her life as an award-winning journalist, socio-political observer and civil rights activist, was released Jan. 16, 2019. Gilliam earned her master's degree at Columbia’s

University Graduate School of Journalism, and was won that school‘s Journalism Alumni of the Year Award in 1979. In 1991, she was honored as a fellow at the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center at Columbia University, where she studied racial diversity in the American media. In 1996, she became a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University

Gilliam was born in Memphis, Tenn., and grew up in Louisville, Ky. She graduated cum laude from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., with a B.A. in journalism. She has three daughters and three grandchildren. She was married to Sam Gilliam, a well-known abstract artist. Gilliam is a member of Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington, D.C., where she serves on its Steward Board and chairs the Commission on Public Relations.


Jenice Armstrong is a newspaper metro columnist journalist with more than 25 years of experience writing for such publications as the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, the Washington Post, The Associated Press (Washington bureau), and the Rochester Times-Union. An award-winning writer, she also has had extensive experience making local TV and radio appearances as well.

She’s the daughter of educators who migrated from North Carolina to Washington, D.C.,  where she grew up. Armstrong graduated from Howard University where she majored in print journalism, edited a school newspaper and dreamed of uncovering the next Watergate. After graduation, she headed west where she interned for such publications as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Albany Democrat-Herald and the Kansas City Star.

Armstrong arrived in Philadelphia in 1991 and covered banking before moving on to tackle the city’s burgeoning hospitality and gaming industries. Her biggest story at the time came after she discovered that city officials knew that the city’s much ballyhooed $500-plus million convention center was too small and the building hadn’t even opened yet. She later was tapped to head the paper’s business department and eventually gravitated to the city section where she worked as an assistant city editor before moving on to her first love - the features department. For a time, Armstrong reviewed restaurants but stopped after her waistband started expanding. It was while writing a piece about Internet dating that she met the love of her life and married him – a life-changing experience she chronicled in the Daily News. 

These days, her focus is on local and regional news. Her commentary covers everything from City Hall to crime. She’s happiest when she’s not in the newsroom but out in Philly’s diverse neighborhoods connecting with people and reporting on stories that don’t get told.  In 2017, she came in first place for commentary for a selection of her columns including a particularly fiery one she wrote the morning after Pres. Trump was elected called “Shame on Deplorable Trump Backers.” She’s known for her blunt honesty and bravery in speaking out against injustice. 

When Armstrong is not writing her column, she participates in local long-distance runs and wastes more time than she cares to admit watching reality TV shows.

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