Thursday August 30, 2007

Voice for the Voiceless

PBS and NPR journalist Maria Hinojosa will share stories from the frontlines of journalism in a free Sept. 7 lecture kicking off UD's Diversity Lecture Series.

Growing up as a Mexican immigrant in the South Side of Chicago, Maria Hinojosa didn't think she had a voice.

Today, this award-winning journalist and author not only has found her voice but also gives "the voiceless a voice." She's the senior correspondent for the Emmy Award-winning PBS newsmagazine show Now and anchors National Public Radio's Latino USA, a weekly national program reporting on news and culture in the Latino community. She also hosts a PBS talk show out of Boston called "Maria Hinojosa: One on One," which features Latino newsmakers. She just returned from Africa, India and Guatemala, where she conducted interviews for a one-hour documentary on child brides that will air in October on Now.

Hinojosa will kick off the University of Dayton's 2007-2008 Diversity Lecture Series with a free talk, "Stories from the Frontlines of Modern Journalism: From Katrina to Child Brides to Iraqi Refugees and Immigrant Rights," at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7, in Boll Theatre in Kennedy Union. It's free and open to the public.

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month at the University of Dayton, Hinojosa also will give a breakfast keynote address at the 2007 Midwest Latino Symposium at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8, in the Kennedy Union West Ballroom. The cost for the all-day conference, which focuses on "Heritage and Identity: Honoring our Roots to Build a Stronger Future," is $5 for students and $10 for faculty, staff and the general public.

In her acclaimed 1999 memoir, Raising Raul: Adventures Raising Myself and My Son, Hinojosa described herself as "a Latin gringa. This crazy mixture of Azteca-New Yorker, salsa-dancing, goddess-worshipping, hard-hitting journalist, Ivy League-educated, Chicago-raised, barrio-living woman. …Even though I grew up as seeing myself as different from everyone around me, I suddenly realized I wanted what everyone else had. I wanted to be a full, well-rounded, accomplished woman. And though I had achieved a lot in my life, I couldn't get away from the Mexican yardstick for measuring womanhood — becoming a mother."

The book is a tribute to womanhood and her personal experiences as a Mexican-American career woman living in New York. Her 1995 book Crews: Gang Members Talk with Maria Hinojosa, is based on her award-winning NPR report. Currently, she is working on a new book about how corporate media is leading society away from the values of journalists.

Hinojosa's career also covers eight years as a New York-based correspondent for CNN, where she covered urban affairs. Before joining CNN, Hinojosa spent six years at National Public Radio as a general assignment correspondent. During this time, she also hosted Visiones, a public-affairs talk show on WNBC-TV in New York. She previously worked for WNYC-TV as the host of New York Hotline and served as a producer and researcher for CBS This Morning.

Hinojosa has garnered several awards and honors, including the Ruben Salazar Award from the National Council of La Raza, an award given annually to an individual who has dedicated his or her life to promoting a positive portrayal of Latino historical, political, economic and cultural contributions to U.S. society.

She has been nominated for two Emmys, and listed three times as one of the country's 100 "Most Influential Latinos" by Hispanic Business agazine. She received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for her NPR story "Manhood Behind Bars," the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Radio Award and the New York Society of Professional Journalists Deadline Award for her NPR report "Kids and Guns."? Her story "Crews" garnered her Top Story of the Year Award from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She also won an Associated Press Award for her coverage of Nelson Mandela for WNYC Radio, and in 2004 was honored with a "Crossing Borders" award from the Feminist Press. Working Mother Magazine also named her one of its "25 Most Influential Working Mothers in America."

The Diversity Lecture Series is one part of a larger strategic plan to increase inclusion and diversity on campus and prepare students, faculty, staff and the Dayton community for success in a global society. Past speakers have included Andrew Young, Coretta Scott King, Clarence Page, Nikki Giovanni, Azar Nafisi and Johnnetta B. Cole. The series is co-sponsored by the offices of the president and provost, with the support of such community partners as the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), Dayton Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Victoria Theatre Association, Markey's Audio Visual, Dayton Daily News, WDTN-TV and WDAO-1210 AM.