BY THE FLORIDA COURIER STAFF
Journalists of color were once again recognized this year during the annual Griot Drum Awards presented by the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists (TBABJ).
Due to the pandemic, this year’s event took place virtually on the organization’s Facebook live page on Thursday, Nov. 12.
Speaker for the night
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Wesley Lowery was the keynote speaker. Lowery formally worked for The Washington Post and is now a correspondent for CBS’s “60 Minutes ’60 for 6’ on Quibi.
Past prominent speakers of the event have included sportswriter Jemele Hill; NPR TV critic Eric Deggans and Kim Godwin, executive vice president of CBS News.
However, the highlight of the night were the honorees.
Alexia McKay, Florida Courier’s editorial assistant, was among the five honorees recognized for the Griot Drum’s Year of The Young Journalist award. McKay, 30, was highlighted for her work as the founder and publisher of RoyalTee Magazine and RoyalTee Girls.
Based out of Tampa, RoyalTee Magazine is a national digital and print quarterly publication that focuses on millennial minority men and women who are breaking barriers and creating opportunities in their community and the arts.
McKay was recognized last year, along with Florida Courier’s photographer, Duane C. Fernandez.
“I’m so humbled and grateful because I think there are so many amazing journalists of color in our community who capture our stories and I’m honored to be recognized as one of them,” McKay said during her acceptance speech.
“Writing is a passion I’ve always enjoyed and using that passion to be an advocate and voice for our people is an honor and a responsibility I do not take lightly.”
The other young honorees were Deanne King, traffic anchor and news reporter for WFLA/News Channel 8; Emerald Morrow, 10 News’s Tampa Bay reporter; Langston Taylor, data reporter for the Tampa Bay Times; and Monique Welch, the Tampa Bay Times’ engagement producer.
“TBABJ is honored to recognize these journalists who have shown remarkable promise so early in their careers,” said Kenya Woodard, president of TBABJ. “Their futures are bright, and they are great examples of the best this industry has to offer.”
Thousands of dollars of scholarships also were awarded to college students of color who are pursuing a degree in journalism.
The organization also honored journalists from the Tampa Bay area were awarded for their coverage of the African American community in categories such as television general news reporting, print reporting, online and photography.
West African roots
The term “griot’’ is derived from West Africa and describes a member of a group of traveling musicians, poets or storytellers who maintain oral history, according to the organization’s website.
TBABJ hosts the Griot Drum Awards every year in mid-November.