Past Event Summaries

Past Event Summaries

April Ryan

At Mama’s Knee: Mothers in Black and White

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 

“It’s going to be a long four years!”

“This is an historic time,” said April Ryan, White House correspondent with the American Urban Radio Networks.  She hails from Baltimore where, as a single African American mom, she knows the problems and realities of women’s lives, and of race.  She is five generations away from slavery.

She has commuted to the White House to work as a reporter under four Presidents—Clinton,  Bush, Obama—and now President Trump.  “This president is different,” she said candidly.  “The president contends that the White House is a fine-tuned operation.  It is NOT!  The White House is manic.  The Administration is still learning its way around, writing executive orders, trying to find light switches, and changing staff frequently.”  And the Press Corps is treated to randomly scheduled daily briefings by Sean Spicer, usually late in the day, with the media berated as “the enemy.”.

Since the November 8 election, she has found the “spirit in the U.S. is not right, with hatred, venom and division” making Democratic friends and colleagues sad and depressed, discontented with our divided society.  Even some Republicans in the Congress admit in private to April that they are shocked.  Her advice to those Republicans who are not pleased with Trump is clear: “FIX IT!”

She writes a lot on African Americans, women, Hispanics and LGBT persons.   She was pleased that Trump visited the National Museum of African American History recently but is not sure that he fully comprehended the important role African-Americans have played in “Making America Great.” She enjoyed reporting on how American society had become increasingly inclusive under the Obamas and is horrified at how dramatically it is moving in the opposite direction under President Trump’s administration.

She was thrilled to have recently had tea with Harry Belafonte on his 90th birthday.  His advice to April was the following:  “When you are in great pain, you must engage in radical activism.”

She has written two books, but the second one, At Mama’s Knee:  Mothers and Race in Black and White, is more personal.  She wrote it to tell her daughters how to behave as black children in the USA given the race-related news that they hear, including close to home in Baltimore.

April Ryan ended her very lively and informal talk with a challenge for WNDC members:  As a journalist, she cannot generate the news, but she can write about it.   So we need to create the stories that she can cover.

Gretchen Bloom
WNDC Roving Reporter