The Power of Story and Representation

It is essential for people of all backgrounds and experiences to learn the power of embracing their story and the importance of storytelling – no matter their niche. During a time of increasing polarization and political divides, it’s important to learn from the Black journalists and writers who pioneered the news world through extraordinary odds, as we explore how this fast-paced evolving news landscape has continued to raise awareness today on biases and inequity of representation.

In October 2019, Letrell Crittenden (Program Director and Assistant Professor of Communication at Thomas Jefferson University) released a report “about the racism and diversity problems in Pittsburgh media and the city […] Based on interviews with journalists, Crittenden’s report found that reporters of color here ‘have a much lesser quality of life both inside and outside of the newsroom.’ It follows a previous report he conducted [in 2016] that found Pittsburgh newsrooms gave little thought to diversity in their news coverage or in their newsrooms.” (Source: NEXTpittsburgh).

In the 2016 report, surveys were sent out to 24 local newsrooms within the Pittsburgh region, and asked questions related to three areas — newsroom diversity, diversity recruitment, and ethics and diversity:

–People of color make up about 13% of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area. On average, they make up only 9% of workers among the newsrooms surveyed.
–People of color make up about 20% of the population in Allegheny County, and 35% of Pittsburgh’s population. On average, they make up about 10% of workers among the newsrooms surveyed in Allegheny County.
–Asians and Latinos each make up only 1% of workers within the newsrooms surveyed.

If you’d like to discuss these and related issues, the Library is hosting The Power of Story and Representation: An Intimate Discussion with Bofta Yimam and Brian Cook, as part of the debut CivicCLP Speaker Series on Thursday, June 17, 2021. Watch the recording here.

You can find even more book lists and resources from Carnegie Library, such as this Staff Picks of Black and LGBTQ+ Authors, this Staff Picks of Short Story Collections by Black authors, this Staff Picks about the connections between Racism and Economics, and our collection of Black History Month booklists.

You can sign up for a free library card here. If you are new to our eResources, check out these tutorial videos on how to get started.

Looking for a good book, album, movie or TV show? We’re happy to recommend them to you! Use this Personalized Recommendations form to send us some information about what you like and we’ll curate a list just for you.

If you have any additional questions, you can contact a librarian through FacebookInstagram or Twitter. You can also call us at 412.622.3114 or email us at

Ladies' Pages: African American Women's Magazines and the Culture That Made Them

Noliwe M. Rooks’s Ladies’ Pages sheds light on the most influential African American women’s magazines– Ringwood’s Afro-American Journal of Fashion, Half-Century Magazine for the Colored Homemaker, Tan Confessions, Essence, and O, the Oprah Magazine –and their little-known success in shaping the lives of black women.

Livin' the Blues: Memoirs of a Black Journalist and Poet

Because of his early self-exile from the literary limelight, Frank Marshall Davis’s life and work have been shrouded in mystery. Livin’ the Blues offers us a chance to rediscover this talented poet and writer and stands as an important example of black autobiography, similar in form, style, and message to those of Langston Hughes and Richard Wright.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones: A Memoir

A gorgeous, moving memoir of how one of America’s most innovative and respected journalists found his voice by coming to terms with a painful past.

My Times in Black and White: Race and Power at the New York Times

My Times in Black and White is the inspirational tale of a man who rose from urban poverty to the top of his field, struggling against white-dominated media, tearing down racial barriers, and all the while documenting the most extraordinary events of the latter twentieth century.