Every February during Black History Month, Aliyah Walton, 19, learns something new about her roots.
She learns about lesser-known blacks who made positive contributions to the country, moving beyond household names like civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became social reformer, orator, writer, and statesman, the University of Toledo sophomore said.
“It reminds me of where I come from,” added Ms. Walton’s roommate, Samia Kimble, 19. “Every year you learn something different.”
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On Saturday, the two young women were among several hundred people who learned about another black woman who has found success.
Yanick Rice Lamb, an associate professor of journalism at Howard University, addressed hundreds of people at UT’s Student Union auditorium, challenging them to not let anyone or anything stand in the way of fulfilling their dreams.
Ms. Rice Lamb told her noontime audience that they must remember to “be the best me I can be.”
Ms. Rice Lamb, an Akron native, knew early in life she wanted to be a journalist.
She studied journalism and obtained a bachelor’s degree in 1980 from Ohio State University.
While in school, she typed an essay — now on yellowed newsprint — and wrote that she wanted to be the best in her field.
After graduating, Ms. Rice Lamb was hired by The Blade, where she worked as a reporter from 1980 until 1983.
In Toledo, she said, she had her first real job, moved into her first apartment, earned $17,000 in her first year, was stood up for the first — and last — time, missed her first 4:30 a.m. work shift because she mistook “4:30” to mean “p.m.,”and landed her first scoop: a story she developed from another reporter’s “throwaway” story about police and fire budgets.
Her scoop was the discovery that a township fire department was sued for burning down the wrong house during a training exercise, Ms. Rice Lamb recalled.
It was a “How you like me now?” moment, she said laughing.
After The Blade, Ms. Rice Lamb went on to work for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times, Child magazine, Essence magazine, Black Entertainment Television, and with Vanguarde Media Inc., until being hired at Howard.
Her lecture, “Socially Accepted: Where Are We Now?”, touched briefly on whether or not blacks are socially accepted in modern-day America.
The answer, she said, is “mixed.”
In some ways, the country has come a long way in 50 years, citing the election and re-election of President Obama.
Now, she said, when children say they want to be a teacher or a lawyer or a doctor or a journalist or a fireman, “We can honestly say, ‘Yes, you can,’ ” Ms. Rice Lamb said.
But there are still people, she said, who “can’t stomach the thought” of a black man in the Oval Office.
Both Ms. Walton, who is studying nursing, and Ms. Kimble, who is studying communications, said they liked what they heard from Ms. Rice Lamb.