WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Newspaper Publishers Association and Chevrolet recently recognized the achievements of eight students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) who participated in the 2017 Discover The Unexpected Journalism Fellowship program.

The class of 2017 DTU journalism fellows included: Alexa Imani Spencer and Noni Marshall from Howard University; Kelsey Jones and Taylor Burris from Spelman College; Jordan Fisher and Tiana Hunt from Clark Atlanta University; and Ayron Lewallen and Darrell Williams from Morehouse College.

The eight fellows were recently rewarded for their intrepid, diligent work in the Chevrolet-backed program that provides students from HBCUs scholarships and summer internships at NNPA member, Black-owned newspapers.

The aspiring journalists and media professionals worked with The Washington Informer, The Atlanta Voice, The Carolinian and The Louisiana Weekly to create print, digital and social media content for the publications.

“This is a joyous occasion,” said hip-hop pioneer MC Lyte, the national spokesperson for the DTU journalism program and the master of ceremonies for the award reception held at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA, a trade group that represents over 200 Black-owned media companies, said that it’s vital that the Black community, especially Black publishers educate young people about the importance of the Black Press.

“We have a responsibility of raising a new generation of freedom fighters and we have, over the past year, discovered the unexpected,” said Chavis, noting that the 190-year-old Black Press has enjoyed a partnership with General Motors, the automakers behind the Chevrolet brand, that has lasted more than 40 years.

Chevrolet’s Diversity Marketing Manager Michelle Alexander said that the company has vowed to continue the DTU journalism program.

NNPA Chairman Dorothy Leavell told the recipients how proud she was of their efforts and stressed the importance of the Black Press and noted how vital young journalists are to its mission.“We need to create a space for them to tell their stories,” Leavell said.

The Atlanta Voice’s interns Jordan Fisher and Kelsey Jones received the Social Media Maven Award for their outstanding work on various digital platforms.

Ayron Lewallen and Taylor Burris received the Entertainment Reporting Award for their work interviewing celebrities and other high-profile individuals.

“This program taught me that being a journalist is more than interviewing celebrities,” said Burris, who wrote a fascinating story for The Carolinian about Nita Key Enrichment, the first Black music enrichment company in North Carolina. “I’ve become stronger than ever and it means that I have to be prepared to advocate for my community.”

Lewallen, who blogged for The Carolinian about how his Detroit immersion trip changed his mindset, said he had always been big on ideas, but being a DTU fellow was about more than just big ideas.

“I had to dig deep,” said Lewallen. “I will continue my path toward becoming a broadcast journalist and I will never forget what everyone in this program has taught me.”

MC Lyte, hip-hop legend and national spokesperson for the NNPA Discover The Unexpected Journalism Fellowship program, poses for a photo with the 2017 NNPA DTU Journalism Fellows. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National CorrespondentNNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Stacy is a veteran journalist and author of the new book, "Celebrity Trials: Legacies Lost, Lives Shattered, So What's the Real Truth." He's also the author of "Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula...

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