While on stage at the Hope Global Forum Monday morning, MSNBC President Rashida Jones shared a story about what a friend told her regarding lofty status as the only Black head of a major television network. “There are some people who are going to be angry with you because you have the audacity to exist,” Jones recalled her friend telling her. “It was such a powerful thing, but the follow up to that is that it’s their problem, that’s not my problem.”
Jones, a Hampton University graduate, was one of many guests in town for the annual forum that brings some of business, technology, finance, sports, entertainment and communications greatest minds to meet and fellowship in Atlanta every year.
Jones shared stories of her and her siblings growing up in York, Pennsylvania and Richmond, Virginia and being the only Black children at their local Catholic school. “We were very protective of ourselves. I grew up in a very urban neighborhood and went to a very suburban school, so on any given day I had to live in both of those worlds,” she said. “I think it’s also why I have been able to live and feel comfortable at any table, at any meeting, in any conversation.”
She is once again in rare company as the only Black major television network president in America. Jones succeeded Phil Griffin February 1, 2021.
On her days as a youth Jones said, “It was the right combination of having the right people around me, the right guides and I have confidence in myself.”
Asked her thoughts about the future of journalism, Jones said she was optimistic. “I’m optimistic that there’s somebody out there that’s going to achieve more than me,” Jones said.
Bridging the Divide
This year’s forum, titled “Bridging the Divide,” will focus on financial inclusion and economic empowerment for underserved communities. This comes in the wake of Atlanta making many end-of-the-year list for the most unaffordable cities in the country.
Topics of discussion this week include social justice, civil rights, crypto currency, how public and private sector companies are transforming giving, and the great cultural misunderstanding.
The Big Think: Of Boys and Men: Struggles of the Modern Male, a discussion between author and Brookings Senior Fellow -Economic Studies Richard Reeves and former United States Congressman and Mayor of Dallas Steve Bartlett got things started Tuesday. Reeves shared a poignant message about making it more easy for men and boys to be able to bridge the career and pay gap: “When we think about race and class a lot of the people who are struggling are men,” he said. “We need to let our men and boys know we got you, you’re not toxic. If we are not sending a signal to our boys and men they are going to go somewhere else.”
Reeves listed fatherhood as a way to bridge the gap and prepare the next generation of men. “Dads matter,” he said. “You don’t have to be married to be a good father.”