The Heising-Simons Foundation has announced that Morehouse Visiting Professor of Journalism and Leadership Studies David Dennis, Jr., and Michelle García are the recipients of the 2021 American Mosaic Journalism Prize, which includes an unrestricted cash prize of $100,000 for each. This is one of the largest dollar amounts given for a journalism prize in the United States. Both Dennis and Garcia are freelance journalists.
Dennis’ journalism includes a 2020 cover story in Atlanta Magazine, “Ahmaud Arbery Will Not Be Erased,” which sheds light on the injustice—and historical pattern leading up to—the murder of a young Black man in Georgia, and a piece in Gay Mag, “An Ode To The Black Women At Dillard’s,” that reflects on the solidarity and community Black women have fostered over department store counters. García’s work includes a 2019 feature in Adi Magazine, “Hand of Terror,” about the degrading and inhumane conditions of U.S. detention centers at the U.S.-Mexico border, reminiscent of Guantanamo Bay, and a story in Bon Appétit, “In the Midst of a Border Crisis, Cooking Is About More Than Survival,” exploring how families seeking asylum have built community and found comfort through food.
“My work is all about telling the stories that need to be told, like Ahmaud Arbery’s, whose life was full of beauty and power beyond its tragic ending,” said Dennis. “These are the stories of people who are ignored and gaslit, whose perspectives are most often never shared in this country. I often write about the person who is the one marginalized voice in the room so they feel less alone.”
The Prize is awarded for excellence in long-form, narrative, or deep reporting about underrepresented and/or misrepresented groups in the United States. It recognizes journalism’s ability to foster understanding and empathy and aims to support freelance journalists.
Dennis is a freelance writer, editor, educator, and social commentator based in Atlanta, Georgia, whose work has also been featured in The Atlantic, ESPN’s The Undefeated, The Washington Post, HuffPost, and numerous publications on Medium. He frequently writes about Black American culture, and the intersection of race, politics, civil rights, sports, and entertainment.
As a visiting professor of journalism at Morehouse College, Dennis is committed to mentoring his students and has previously advised the school’s newspaper. He is currently writing a book entitled, The Movement Made Us, set to be published next year by HarperCollins, about his father’s experience in the civil rights movement written from a first-person perspective. The book is a study of memory—both individual and collective—and the trauma that can be passed down in Black families, especially from fathers to sons.
The prize is based on confidential nominations invited from more than 150 leaders in journalism throughout the country. A panel of 10 judges—including journalists from NPR, NBC News, CBS News, Telemundo, the Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, and Oxford American—selected the recipients.