The Columbia Journalism School Announces the 2021 Lipman Fellows and Grant Recipients for Reporting on Systemic Racism and Human and Civil Rights Abuses | Columbia Journalism School
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The Columbia Journalism School Announces the 2021 Lipman Fellows and Grant Recipients for Reporting on Systemic Racism and Human and Civil Rights Abuses

The Ira A. Lipman Center led by Prof. Jelani Cobb is awarding four additional grants for proposals centered on the impact of segregation on American cities and human rights violations of American colonialism

The Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights at the Columbia Journalism School announced the 2021 Lipman Fellows today: Brittney Martin, a freelance journalist for the Washington Post and Texas Monthly, among others; and Kovie Biakolo, whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times and elsewhere. 

The center also awarded three special grants to Seyma Bayram, staff writer at the Akron Beacon Journal; Brandi Kellam, digital journalist CBS News; and Madalyn Mendoza, digital reporter at San Antonio Express-News for projects centered on the economic impact of segregation. Another special grant was given to Chris Gelardi, whose work has appeared in The Nation, Slate and elsewhere, for his proposal on the human rights violations of modern-day American colonialism. 

“We are thrilled to welcome this year’s cohort of Lipman Fellows and grant recipients,” Jelani Cobb, director of the center, said. “Their journalistic interests represent a spectrum of topics bound by a common concern with the civil and human rights of vulnerable communities. Clearly, these concerns could not be more timely and we look forward to working with them in the coming year.”

This year’s selection committee included Duy Linh Tu, associate professor of professional practice at the Journalism School; Monica Rhor, a 2018 Lipman Fellow and story editor at Chalkbeat; Kira Lerner, a 2018 Lipman Fellow and senior news editor PBS NewsHour;  Professor Cobb; and Dolores Barclay, adjunct professor of journalism and administrative manager of the center.

Fellows will each receive $10,000 and $2,500 will be awarded to grant recipients.

"Columbia Journalism School congratulates the new Lipman Fellows and grant recipients for using their talents and experience to shed light on inequalities in criminal justice, housing, immigration and other areas," said Steve Coll, Columbia Journalism School Dean and Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism. “These are complex stories that each have a history and a trail of policies often shaped by racial attitudes. We are proud of the Ira A. Lipman Center for bringing these stories and their storytellers to the fore.” 

Lipman Fellows Kovie Biakolo and Brittney Martin
Lipman Fellows Kovie Biakolo and Brittney Martin

Martin was honored for her proposal to do a podcast series on convict leasing and racism in America’s penitentiary system, noting the old prison in Sugar Land, Texas, where convicts died working the sugar cane plantations.

Biakolo will examine the nexus of race and immigration in her story “The Black Immigrant Trail of Tears,” about Black migrants at the southern U.S. border. 

lipman grantees
Grant recipients Seyma Bayram, Chris Gelardi, Brandi Kellam and Madalyn Mendoza

Bayram’s proposal is focused on gun violence and economic segregation in Akron, Ohio. Kellam will write about how city expansion in Newport News, Virginia, for largely white residents, has created high-crime, low-income Black communities with the smallest voting base among all the precincts. Gelardi will look at the human and civil rights issues of American colonialism in Guam, American Samoa, The American Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. Mendoza is tackling economic segregation and redlining in San Antonio, Texas.

The Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights was created in 2017 with a gift from the late Ira A. Lipman to inform and shape the ways we research and report race, diversity and civil and human rights in the United States and globally. 

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About Columbia Journalism School
For more than a century, the Columbia Journalism School has been preparing journalists in programs that stress academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry and professional practice. Founded with a gift from Joseph Pulitzer, the school opened in 1912 and offers Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Science in Data Journalism, a joint Master of Science degree in Computer Science and Journalism, The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism and a Doctor of Philosophy in Communications. It houses the Columbia Journalism Review, the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, The Tow Center for Digital Journalism, The Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. The school also administers many of the leading journalism awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes, the John Chancellor Award, the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism, Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award, the Mike Berger Awards and the WERT Prize for Women Business Journalists.