civil rights



Dorothy B. Gilliam is a trailblazer in American journalism who has made significant contributions to the industry. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1936, Gilliam grew up in a segregated society and faced many challenges as a young woman of color.

Despite the obstacles she faced, Gilliam pursued a career in journalism and became the first African American woman to work as a reporter at a major newspaper. Throughout her career, Gilliam has worked to increase diversity and inclusion in newsrooms and has mentored countless young journalists.

In this blog, we will explore the life and legacy of Dorothy B. Gilliam and examine the impact of her work on the industry and society as a whole.


Dorothy B. Gilliam’s early life and career shaped her worldview and inspired her to pursue a career in journalism. Gilliam attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, where she studied journalism and became involved in the civil rights movement.

After graduating, she worked as a teacher in Nashville, Tennessee, and later as a public relations specialist in Washington, D.C. During this time, she became interested in journalism and began taking classes to improve her skills. In 1961, she was hired as a reporter at The Washington Post, starting a career spanning several decades.


Throughout much of the 20th century, women faced significant barriers to entry into journalism. Many newspapers and magazines had strict gender roles, with women relegated to writing about “soft” topics such as fashion and cooking.

Women were often not taken seriously as journalists and were frequently subjected to harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Despite these obstacles, women like Dorothy B. Gilliam persevered and fought for equal opportunities in the industry.

Gilliam’s success as a journalist paved the way for future generations of women and people of color in the field.


Dorothy B. Gilliam’s career at The Washington Post spanned several decades and covered many important issues. She was a strong advocate for civil rights and education and worked to increase the representation of women and people of color in the media.

In 1972, she was promoted to assistant editor, making her the first African American woman to hold an editorial position at The Washington Post. Gilliam’s work at the newspaper helped to shape the national conversation on issues such as race, gender, and social justice, and her impact on the industry continues to be felt today.


Dorothy B. Gilliam’s work at The Washington Post and her advocacy for diversity and inclusion in journalism have impacted the industry. Her commitment to telling the stories of marginalized communities and her dedication to increasing representation in newsrooms inspired many young journalists to follow in her footsteps.

Gilliam’s work helped break down industry barriers and create a more inclusive and diverse media landscape. Today, more women and people of color are working in journalism than ever, and the industry strives for greater diversity and representation.


Throughout her career, Dorothy B. Gilliam received numerous awards and honors for her work in journalism and advocacy. In 1983, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Special Local Reporting for her coverage of school desegregation in Washington, D.C.

She has also received awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Women’s Media Center, and the International Women’s Media Foundation,


Dorothy B. Gilliam’s contributions to diversity and inclusion in journalism are far-reaching and enduring. She has been a vocal advocate for increasing newsroom representation and creating a more inclusive media landscape.

Gilliam has mentored countless young journalists and has worked to create opportunities for women and people of color in the industry. Her work has helped to diversify newsrooms and ensure that the stories of all communities are represented in the media.



In addition to her work as a journalist, Dorothy B. Gilliam has authored several books on race, gender, and journalism. Her first book, “Paul Robeson: All-American,” was published in 1976 and explored the life of the African American singer, actor, and civil rights activist.

Her other books include “Skin Deep: Black Women and White Women Write About Race” (1996), which she co-edited with Julia P. Johnson, and “Trailblazer: A Pioneering Journalist’s Fight to Make the Media Look More Like America” (2019), which chronicles her own career and advocacy work.

Books Authored by Dorothy B. Gilliam



Dorothy B. Gilliam’s legacy in journalism and advocacy has been significant. Through journalism, she helped shape the national conversation on civil rights, education, and social justice issues. She also fought for greater diversity and inclusion in newsrooms, mentoring young journalists and advocating for more excellent representation of women and people of color.

Gilliam’s advocacy helped break down industry barriers and create a more inclusive and diverse media landscape. Today, her legacy inspires and guides journalists striving for more significant equity and representation in the industry.


In conclusion, Dorothy B. Gilliam’s contributions to journalism have been significant and far-reaching. As a trailblazer and advocate for greater diversity and inclusion, she helped break down industry barriers and create a more equitable media landscape.

Through her work as a journalist and author, she brought attention to important issues such as civil rights, education, and social justice. Her legacy continues to inspire and guide future generations of journalists who seek to make the media look more like America.

As we progress, we must remember and honor the trailblazers like Dorothy B. Gilliam, who paved the way for a more inclusive and diverse industry.


In honor of Women’s Equality Day, toy manufacturer Mattel announced their newest creation, the Rosa Parks Barbie.

Since its inception, Barbie has been a symbol of women’s freedom and rights. In 2018 on International Women’s Day, Barbie launched their “Inspiring Women Series,” in an effort “to honor historical role models who paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before.” The new Barbie made in Parks’ likeness is the newest edition to that collection, which includes mathematician and “hidden figure” Katherine Johnson, whose 101st birthday coincided with the Parks Barbie release.

Mattel, the parent company of Barbie released a statement explaining why they chose Parks saying, “Rosa Parks was an incredible heroine of her time. She fearlessly took a risk that would help change the status quo and pave the way for future generations. Her story is an inspiring example of bravely standing for what is right in the face of adversity.”

The “Inspiring Women Series” was created after Mattel released information about the “Dream Gap,” research that shows that girls began to view their gender as inferior to boys and develop limiting beliefs about themselves at as young as 5 years old, as a result of cultural stereotypes, implicit biases and media representation. The dolls are a part of the Dream Gap Project, which seeks to raise awareness of this issue and support causes and organizations that are fighting to #CloseTheDreamGap.

The Parks Barbie was created in partnership with the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, named for Parks and her husband, who was also a civil rights activist. The doll comes with educational information highlighting the late icon’s contributions to society as well as the traditional clothing and accessories that Barbie is known for.

Anita Peek, director of the Parks Institute for Self-Development, spoke to The Glow Up about the honor saying, “[W]e hope that the Rosa Parks Barbie will spark conversations about her contributions to society and encourage future generations of girls to fearlessly stand up for what they believe in.”