2019 MJP Journal

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The Newspaper of the 36th Multicultural Journalism Workshop at The University of Alabama




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3 abortion activism 4 civil rights 6 LGBTQ mental health 7 climate change 8 LGBTQ life 10 school mental health 11 funding the arts 12 university of alabama 13 softball success 14 sports journalism 15 thank you 16 student contributors

Letter from the Directors


e are so fortunate to be the directors of this wonderful group of students who took part in the 36th annual Multicultural Journalism Workshop this week. Our workshop, held in the UA Department of Journalism and Creative Media on the University of Alabama campus, is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the country. We are proud of our track record of increasing diversity in newsrooms. Students who were accepted into the program this year came to us from across the country (Washington state, Ohio, Texas and New Hampshire), throughout the state (Mobile) and around the corner from schools in Tuscaloosa. Several of the students had not been to Alabama before, and they visited during a tumultuous time of upheaval in the Alabama political and cultural landscape. This piqued their curiosity and, just as any good journalist would react, they did not shy away from covering sensitive, hard-hitting issues. Started in the early 1980s, this workshop’s goal is to increase diversity in America’s newsrooms. We have no doubt this class does, and will do, that with its diversity of thought and reporting.

The MJW Class of 2019 is filled with youth activists for various causes and enough energy to make a difference in their surroundings. These students are movers, shakers and change-makers. We have sincerely loved building relationships with them over the past nine days. We cannot wait to see the impact they make on our community, country and world.

Meredith Cummings and Savannah Bullard June 2019 @ALASPA




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Top row, from left: INDIGO COYLEWRIGHT, 16, is a rising junior at Hanover High School in New Hampshire. He is an active member in many school activities, including the school newspaper and the basketball team. He has also been selected to represent his school in the Hugh O’Brian Leadership Seminar and has been on his school’s honor roll throughout his high school career. KIRSTYN GRAY, 16, is an rising junior at Sheridan High School in Thornville, Ohio. She is involved in the marching, jazz, pep and concert bands. She loves to spend time with her amazing friends. Kirstyn enjoys listening to music and collecting vinyl records. She would like to recognize her teacher, Mrs. Rebekah Yzenski, for everything she has done, her best friend JoJo for being the best person that he could be and her grandparents for being so kind. CATHARINE LI, 14, is a rising freshman at Round Rock High School in Austin, Texas. Originally from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, (Roll Tide!) she’s passionate about serving others through writing and storytelling. As editor-inchief of her school’s online news publication,

The Eagle Edition, she’s gained experience in multimedia, graphic and web design, and is incredibly thankful to have been a part of the MJW Class of 2019. She is also a classically trained violinist, travel lover and lemonade enthusiast. ASHLEY LIN, 15, is a rising junior from Union High School in Vancouver, Washington. She is passionate about journalism, edtech entrepreneurship and cross-cultural collaboration to redefine the public school system and connect the future of school to the future of work. On a given day, find Ashley running her nonprofit, Project Exchange, to increase access to cross-cultural exchange, helping high school students start businesses, lobbying in Olympia/Washington D.C. or on a plane to her next adventure. JUSTIN PETER, 18, attends Tuscaloosa County High School as an upcoming senior. He enjoys nature and hanging out with friends. He also owns his own photography company called JP photography, which he established in 2018. He plans to attend college to become a news anchor through broadcast journalism, where he will earn his bachelors and masters degrees. Bottom row, from left:

AVRIL POWELL, 18, is from Birmingham, Alabama. She is a recent high school graduate from the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science. She plans on being a biology major at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is a returnee to the long weekend as she finds passion in learning how to develop her journalism skills. During her downtime she enjoys writing poetry and practicing her photography. She hopes that MJW helps her to become a better journalist so she can capture the moments that matter most. JENNIFER STROUD, 17, is a rising senior at Northridge High School in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Jennifer loves travelling, art, writing and photography, and she is also interested in sustainability and environmental studies. At school, she is vice president of Girls Learn International and is also in Key Club, National Honor Society and serves on the NHS Blueprints yearbook staff. MARKELL TUCKER, 17, is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He will begin his senior year at Paul W. Bryant High School this fall. In fourth grade, he became interested in journalism and being on TV. His sophomore year of high school, he became a lead anchor at Tuscaloosa Career and Technology

Academy. He is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society. He has won first place in the broadcasting category for the state of Alabama through the Alabama Scholastic Press Association. ISABEL XUE, 14, lives in Massachusetts and is a rising sophomore at the Middlesex School. She loves journalism and is a consistent contributor to her school newspaper, The Anvil. Isabel loves creating, writing and has written two novels, one of which is selfpublished on Amazon. She enjoys working with digital media, and she is creating a student-run digital website for her school. Isabel likes to produce videos and music. She is also a competitive dancer and rhythmic gymnastics coach. TOMMY YARRISH, 15, is a rising junior at Bridgeland High School in Cypress, Texas. He’s currently the multimedia and communications editor for Bridgeland Student Media’s “The Bridge” as well as a social media editor for The Old Coach. He’s a TAJE Best in Texas Writer and has held interviews with athletes from olympians to NFL stars. He is originally from Chicago, Illinois and loves to listen to music and play basketball.


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espite the steep gulf between pro-choice and pro-life advocates in Alabama, some in this deeply conservative state are seeking ways for both sides to reach a compromise. Alabama became the target of headlines and the punchline of jokes when politicians passed HB 314, a bill that bans virtually all abortions with the exception of pregnancies that directly threaten the life of the mother. The Guttmacher Institute, a leading research and policy center committed to advancing reproductive rights in the U.S., reports more than 401 abortion restrictions were enacted in the U.S. from 2011 to 2017. HB 314 is an extension of this series of bills to negate Roe v. Wade. But while Alabama’s new abortion law grabbed headlines, groups behind the scenes—on both sides of the issue— are working to soften its impact on the state’s image. “Just like racism isn’t just a Southern problem, abortion isn’t just a Southern problem either,” said Helmi Henkin, co-founder of the Yellowhammer Fund, an organization dedicated to protecting abortion access through financial support. “And this is frustrating because Alabama and the South are scapegoats of America.” In these headlines, there is no

distinction between pro-choice and prolife. Generalizations about Alabamians and abortion are created, and negative actions magnified.

“We had so much that we could do together if we were willing to set aside our fears about what we think of other people – and really get to know them and listen and try to understand where they’re coming from – and build a relationship and talk and allow each other our differences.”

-Helmi Henkin

“Of course, the first [article] that came up [on Facebook] was Alabama's abortion ban making it so rape victims and women who are going to die from their pregnancy aren’t going to be able to have an abortion,” said Georgia Gallagher, President of Bama Students for Life at the University of Alabama. “This makes us look like Alabama just hates women and wants to force women to have babies, and we don't care about rapists.”

Unpacking differences and finding common ground between pro- and anti-abortion advocates Shared discontent over media misrepresentation encourages both sides to expand the abortion conversation beyond religion or politics, and find better solutions.

Destigmatizing abortion through sharing stories The Guttmacher Institute reports one in every four U.S. women will have an abortion by age 45, and over 59% of women obtaining abortions are mothers. “Everyone loves someone who had an abortion,” Henkin said. Pro-choice advocates say story sharing is a powerful tool to humanize the conversation. It presents a unique opportunity to connect through shared values, which becomes a natural bridge to common ground. “Not everyone is willing to tell their abortion story for a variety of reasons, and that is perfectly valid,” said Shireen Shakouri, media coordinator for The Doula Project, a pro-choice organization providing support to low-income individuals at all stages of pregnancy. “But for those who can and want to, they play a critical role in busting stigma and help others find their power to share their own experiences with abortion.” Ending the stigma surrounding abortion could create more spaces for abortion story sharing, leading to more relevant conversations. Andi Lawhead, an organizer for Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE), works with college campuses on Alabama’s Abortion Positive Tour. He said the tour “talks about the stigma surrounding abortion, and that the entire tour is dedicated to talking with young people about the realities of abortion and abortion access.”

URGE isn’t the only organization in Alabama destigmatizing abortion through storytelling. “Folks need to acknowledge what sort of work is already going on in the state,” said Lawhead. “The Yellowhammer Fund holds that kind of training, those heart-to-heart conversations. Planned Parenthood has events, ACLU of Alabama has events. So what is the best way to talk to somebody about abortion? Folks here can already tell you.” Beyond better conversations among community members, organizations on different sides of the abortion debate also have much to gain through dialouge. “We were really struggling with how to engage women, and also how Christians are viewed in this space,” said Denise Stein, co-founder of ProGrace, an organization equipping pastors to talk about abortion and create a safe place for pregnant people. “So we went into the Chicago area, and met with every pro-choice, far-left person who would sit down and meet with us. “We had so much that we could do together if we were willing to set aside our fears about what we think of other people, and really get to know them and listen and try to understand where they're coming from and build a relationship and talk and allow each other our differences.”

Intersectionality and inclusion in abortion rights Moving beyond destigmatizing abortion, both pro-life and pro-choice advocated have identified common ground in building intersectional movements and engaging traditionally marginalized people.

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NEWS Roula AbiSamra, an organizer with the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, an organization that seeks to return reproductive agency to Asian American and Pacific Islander groups, said: “[Where abortion was legal] people were still dying from unsafe abortion because they had ended up seeing someone who wasn't regulated. That was happening among the poor and people of color, especially single, black women.” Different levels of privilege and access, perpetuated by differences in identity, afford people different abortion experiences. “When it comes to abortion access and Alabama, your gender, class and race do have a lot to do with it,” Henkin said. “Communities that are most impacted are communities who lack the resources.” Awareness of this disparity in abortion access prompts organizations to re-evaluate the spaces they operate in, and identify ways to engage diverse community members.

“Everyone loves someone who had an abortion.”

-Helmi Henkin

“We challenge white supremacy, sexism, homophobia, religious discrimination, transphobia, classism, ageism, and all other oppressive forces that impact our own lives as well as those seeking abortion,” Shakouri said. “This is because we know that the separation of abortion care from other facets of reproductive health over the years is one factor that has stigmatized abortion and pushed care out of reach for people.” Inclusion and intersectionalism are also themes candidly expressed

by anti-abortion advocates. Sandi Chorley, executive director of Sav-A-Life Pregnancy Resource Center in Tuscaloosa, had mentioned the largest demographics they serve is are the poor, especially those raised in non-traditional family situations. Gallagher adds that not all antiabortion advocates are white and Christian. There are students of all backgrounds involved, who bring new perspectives with shared values.

Serving as allies to Southern leaders, creating temporary solutions and systemic change “I do think it’s difficult to talk about abortion now, but I think that gives us all the more reason to talk about it,” said Carson Ledbetter, a member of Girls Learn International (GLI) at Northridge High School. “You can be morally prolife, and politically pro-choice. Just because you yourself would not chose abortion does not mean we should ban it outright.” Abortion has been a prominent topic of conversation within Ledbetter’s school’s GLI chapter, and students have developed a nuanced understanding that mirror professionals in the field. “Socioeconomic standpoints sometimes take abortion out of the question entirely, because some women or families just can’t afford it. If they cannot afford an abortion, there is no way they can afford a child,” Ledbetter said. Henkin from the Yellowhammer Fund had mentioned something similar and believes immediate short-term funding and resource support are not mutually exclusive with systemic change. “[Boycotts] hurt the same communities who are most impacted by this ban,” Henkin said. “It’s better to dedicate their resources instead to

larger organizations who have been doing the work for decades to support people most impacted by the ban, and to advance civil rights. And we're not going to give up on our state. We're not going anywhere.” Gallagher echoes this sentiment. Bama Students for Life recently collected more than 1,000 diapers for the local crisis pregnancy center, Choices of Alabama. Together, Gallagher said they “help pregnant people get connections to the unemployment office or help get them free diapers, free car seats, free formula,” all intended to serve those who need immediate support. Gallagher agreed that “in a place like Tuscaloosa that is a small town, a grassroots town, the people here like to help each other.” Both Henkin and Gallagher agree there are compassionate people in the South and in Alabama making a positive impact. A shared belief in the power of community puts agency in the hands of opposing sides to seek shared solutions. Henkin had mentioned strong, vibrant and progressive communities all over the South and all over Alabama, who have been working to advance civil and reproductive rights. Gallagher had mentioned she’s hopeful about building a community where the pregnancy center, the abortion clinic, the church and even organizations like Habitat for Humanity can work together to build a culture that values life and meets the pregnant person where they are. Lawhead had mentioned he’s confident in community efforts to reach out to organizers already doing work in these spaces and destigmatize abortion conversations. By engaging in better dialogue, organizations on all sides of the abortion debate in the U.S., the South, and specifically, in Alabama, have more common ground than expected.


WHAT HB 314 SAYS: “A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT: Relating to abortion; to make abortion and attempted abortion felony offenses except in cases where abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother; to provide that a woman who receives an abortion will not be held criminally culpable or civilly [l]iable for receiving the abortion; and in connection therewith would have as its purpose or [a]ffect the requirement of a new or increased expenditure of local funds within the meaning of Amendment 621 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 111.05 of the Official Recompilation of The Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended.”


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WALK THE WALK: Historical civil rights trail help participants acknowledge the past



etty Wells remembers the year 1964. As a ninthgrade student, she often accompanied her father, David Duncan Sr., to meetings held by the Tuscaloosa Citizens for Action Committee at First African Baptist Church. She recalls that she was fully aware of worsening racial tensions. “I knew that we were marching,” Wells said. “I knew we were boycotting, closing down stores that would not hire African Americans, we closed the bus down. So I was very much aware of what was going on.” First African Baptist Church is one of the locations where demonstrations took place and is one of the locations highlighted through the new Tuscaloosa Civil Rights trail. The Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Task Force unveiled the new Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Trail, “What A Diff’rence A Day Makes,” during its opening event at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center June 10. The trail has a total of 18 stops reflecting events in the fight for civil rights. Starting at Capitol Park, the former seat of Alabama government, visitors are able to walk the same path as people who faced racial violence. In addition, they can take in historic stories of human dignity and citizenship by visiting places such as Linton’s Barbershop on T.Y. Rogers Jr. Avenue, the

Tuscaloosa County Courthouse – where demonstrations were held – and the sit-ins at F.W. Woolworth’s. The trail is open to the public and will eventually include expansions to historical locations around the campuses of both Stillman College and The University of Alabama. More than three years of research and outreach events went into the creation of the trail. With help from scholars and personal accounts from foot soldiers and citizens, it retells the story of Tuscaloosa through the eyes, ears and memories of the people who lived to tell it.

“We admit to that past so we can accept a present that is inclusive, a present that brings all of us to the table.”

-Scott Bridges

Along the tour, there are signs that indicate the significant moments in the civil rights struggle, such as local victims of the lynching that occurred at the Old Tuscaloosa County Jail and ordinary people doing extraordinary things, like Autherine Lucy-Foster, who was the first black woman to attempt to integrate The University of Alabama. Scott Bridges, president of the task

force, said it is important to document not only the city’s role in the nationwide struggle for civil rights, but to be aware of historical events, even ones that reflect shame and pain. “We admit to that past so we can accept a present that is inclusive, a present that brings all of us to the table,” Bridges said. Bridges wants to use the trail to connect people, especially young people, to the history of the civil rights struggle. Kevil Tice, the communications, information and technology chair for the West Alabama Multicultural Alliance (WAMA), said her platform supports the mission of the task force, focusing on education programs that teach the diverse cultural heritage of West Alabama with a primary focus on the youth community. “Tuscaloosa has already progressed tremendously in areas of diversity and inclusion,” she said. “We also need to create an environment in which we can grow together, teach one another and be transparent when communicating, in order to avoid the repeat of history.” Sharing these stories will help improve cross-cultural relationships in the community and create a more inclusive, transparent and honest learning environment, Tice said. “Through collective leadership and service, our city will become a more welcoming community for all ethnic backgrounds,” she said. Wells never forgot the experience

Photo by Catharine Li

from her youth. She is now a member of the Tuscaloosa Racial Reconciliation Initiative, a group that offers resources and tools to help the community navigate racial conflict through education. “We need to learn from our past by keeping the stories alive and passing them on to our children and letting this younger generation be more aware of what we have gone through,” Wells said. “I can still feel the sacrifices made by so many during this very dangerous but fearless time.” But her experiences didn’t leave her bitter. Wells continues to involve herself in efforts to immerse the community. For her, the trail is much more than a walk through the city. It is the commemoration of history, of ordinary people doing extraordinary things and, most of all, the struggle she saw firsthand all those years ago. “Racial reconciliation is my prayer. That we will continue to move forward with this and go far and wide and to reach those who need to hear this and participate in it,” she said. Top photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Queer teens discuss concerns regarding LGBTQ students and mental well-being



or LGBTQ teens in the South, coming out is often fraught with fear. “I remember how much I just wanted to die but was convinced I’d burn in hell forever once I died,” said University of Alabama student Matt Hosey. “Slowly that went away ... I had just pushed everything into a corner and lived in denial. I knew my family was never going to accept me for who I am.” Hosey grew up in a devout Southern Baptist home, something that hindered his ability to begin processing his sexuality in college. “I think I spent more of my childhood in the church than anywhere else,” he said. “I was very conflicted with my

family upbringing and the things I was slowly realizing about myself. I dealt with a lot of depression.” Lizzie Emerson, a graduate assistant with the University of Alabama’s Safe Zone, said Hosey is far from alone in his experience. Safe Zone is an on-campus organization supporting LGBTQ students and their allies. Th e group doesn’t yet have an on-staff therapist, but Emerson said she often meets with people and sometimes refers them to counseling. “Most of what I see is what appears to be depression or anxiety or internalized shame related to an LGBTQ identity or students who are dealing with the consequences of some form of sexual or identity-based violence,” she said.

Mental health and the LGBTQ community are heavily intertwined, but there are resources available. Nationwide organizations lend their support to LGBTQ youth, including the GLSEN and the Trevor Project. TrevorLifeline (ages 13-24): 1-866-488-7386 National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800­-273-­TALK (8255); 888-­628­-9454 (en español) Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741 from anywhere in the USA The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: (888) 843-4564 The GLBT National Youth Talkline (youth through age 25): (800) 246-7743

Photo by Jennifer Stroud

According to NAMI.org, high school students who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are almost five times as likely to attempt suicide compared to their heterosexual peers. Of all transgender adults, 48% say they’ve considered suicide in the past 12 months, compared to 4% of the overall U.S. population. “I think people so often hear that an identity group needs support and assume that the group is somehow weaker or that there’s something wrong with having that identity,” Emerson said. “But for most of the students I work with, they deal with real trauma that they don’t know how to work through.” In the Southeast, discrimination and negative feedback toward different identities create its own form of trauma, she said. “They’re constantly bombarded with these messages that there’s something wrong with them, and usually from a very young age,” Emerson said. “Even when you rationally know that there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s really, really difficult to live your life hearing those messages over and over without internalizing that.” For people in the LGBTQ

community who are treated for mental health conditions, the treatment experience itself can present its own challenges.

“Even when you rationally know that there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s really, really difficult to live your life hearing those messages over and over without internalizing that.”

-Lizzie Emerson

“I’ve been really lucky with my access to treatment,” said Jet Davis, a trans male student at the University of Alabama. “In my experience, the LGBTQ community has a lot of issues with getting treatment, in part because it’s scary to go to a doctor and not know if they’re going to accept or acknowledge a huge part of your identity.”


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sabel Hope is so serious about drawing attention to environmental problems that she encouraged students not to attend school. She was the lead organizer of the Alabama Youth Climate Strike, the state’s response to the international Youth Climate Strike movement that encouraged students not to attend class to “protest our government’s inaction on climate change,” Hope said. Hope, 17, is among a growing number of students who are becoming active in advocating for environmental awareness. Like Hope, Elena Dixon, a homeschool student from Tuscaloosa, is also active in raising awareness about the environment. Dixon, 17, spoke at the Alabama Youth Climate Strike in Montgomery. About 75 students attended the Montgomery rally on March 15, one of many rallies in cities across the nation. Students said their action is because they understand the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which experts believe contribute to global warming. According to the World Meteorological Organization’s “State of the Global Climate in 2018,” global warming is a great concern with the past four years (2015-2018) the warmest on record and 2018 the warmest yet.

United Nations SecretaryGeneral Antonio Guterres said in the WMO report that the data “confirm the urgency of climate action.” Because of the seriousness of the topic, Guterres will convene a Climate Action Summit Sept. 23 and

“I try to make sure that young people know they have a voice in the political side of the environmental issues … I want young people to feel like they can stand up to their elected leaders.”

-Isabel Hope

called on world leaders to arrive at the meeting “with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020

As tensions rise among scientific leaders, and reach net zero emissions around mid-century.” The United States Environmental Protection Agency notes climate change effects are especially disastrous in Alabama. The location of cities in Alabama near water subjects them to dangerous flooding that climate change promotes. “[Huntsville’s] geographic location makes the city vulnerable to riverine flooding and inundation … Future climate change may worsen the situation … Similar to other coastal cities, Mobile is vulnerable to storm surge flooding, especially under the threat of climate change,” according to a study led by Wanyun Shao of The University of Alabama. As climate change affects Alabama, young Alabamians, including Hope, are concerned about the lasting impact climate change will have in the coming years. “There are a lot of young people across the South specifically that are really worried about climate change … We have the Gulf Coast, which is going to rise and wipe out all of our land … We are the ones who are on the frontlines of this issue,” said Hope.

Hope strongly encourages all people, especially youth, to speak up. “I try to make sure that young people know they have a voice in the political side of the environmental issues … I want young people to feel like they can stand up to their elected leaders,” she said. Dixon recognizes her duty in preserving the planet. “Climate change is the biggest threat currently facing our planet,” Dixon said. “Humans are causing this destruction. It is our responsibility to take care of it.” Dixon said she is also passionate about asking students to stand up


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and others in between, some students took charge to oppose climate change laws and take responsibility for environmental issues. “Call your senators, members of Congress that represent where you live, even more, local representatives like city councilors. Talk about climate change, write emails, leave messages,” she said. Dixon is adamant that everyone

“There are so many ways to use environmentally friendly alternatives to normal activities. Bringing reusable bags to supermarkets instead of getting plastic bags is super important … Try to bike some places rather than take a car, walk, or even take public transportation.”

-Elena Dixon

can make changes to their routines in order to participate in the global movement to save the environment. “There are so many ways to use environmentally friendly alternatives to normal activities. Bringing reusable bags to supermarkets instead of getting plastic bags is super important … Try to bike some places rather than take a car, walk, or even take public transportation,” Dixon said. Some concerned people wish they had learned about climate change in school and that schools appropriately educated students. “I do not feel that when I went to public school I was properly

educated on environmental issues,” said Hope. Dixon agreed. “I think that teaching students about climate change and the environment is incredibly important,” Dixon said. Casie Jones, an environmental science teacher at Tuscaloosa County High, is making an effort to teach students and help them make positive impacts on the environment. Jones said she believes students should explore the outdoors and see the diversity in ecosystems so they know what they are fighting for. “If we're wanting to protect the environment, we have to be engaged in our environment … I’ve adopted my group of students from County High and younger kids to provide opportunities for them to engage [with the environment],” she said. Many people use the media as an outlet for activism. “Today in an age of technology and social interaction, we have to go out, participate in events, create events, talk and discuss through social media, and talk to our friends about the things that we actually care about,” said Jones. Schools can also partner with organizations to promote sustainability and eco-friendly living. For example, Tuscaloosa City Schools and the Tuscaloosa County School System currently work with Schoolyard Roots, an organization that “work[s] hard to make Alabama a healthier, more sustainable place, one child at a time through [their] school-garden curriculum,” according to its website. Student activists demonstrate how when it comes to schools and students, promoting sustainability goes both ways.


All photos by Meredith Cummings


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LGBTQ struggles, diversity overlooked, ignored in more conservative communities REPORTING: JUSTIN PETER WRITING: KIRSTYN GRAY


t can be a lonely, isolating feeling as an LGBTQ person. And in conservative areas, that feeling is amplified. Yet even in conservative states like Alabama, there are organizations and individuals committed to creating a safer, more welcoming space for those who may be struggling with their sexuality, such as Druid City Pride. Druid City Pride is a non-profit community organization in western Alabama that serves and advocates for any person that identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ). Visibility is one of the biggest issues that Druid City Pride faces, according to organization director Russell Howard. “There is no outlet for LGBTQ teens to hang out and ask questions about their experiences in Tuscaloosa,” Howard said.

“There is no outlet for LGBTQ teens to hang out and ask questions about their experiences in Tuscaloosa.”

-Russell Howard

Howard hopes to provide a center for young members of the LGBTQ community where they can go to feel safe, as well as receive additional support from their peers. Another organization that supports LGBTQ members is UA Safe Zone,

a resource completely center at The reject you and University think that you're of Alabama. disgusting and It provides hate you for support through no reason,” b u i l d i n g Hilliard said, community and “and then education. It there's people provides crisis that accept you intervention and know what resources you’re going for LGBTQ through. members of The “In August, I University of got a boyfriend Alabama and and [my their allies. parents] found While Druid out … They Joey Hilliard. Photo courtesy of Joey Hilliard City Pride helps were upset at all western Alabamians, UA’s Safe first and then they accepted it, and it Zone is designed to help students. was very weird, but I felt like I was Tripp Gustin, an Alabama native free and that a burden was taken off who grew up in Mobile as a gay man, my shoulders,” Hilliard said. is now a 29-year-old graphic designer Although Hilliard came living in Orange County, California. out as gay to his mother, “It’s not as bad as you would think. father, and younger brother, People tend to have an impression he has not come out to his that being gay in Alabama is a living other family members. hell, but in Mobile, it’s very accepting, “It's hard being out of and I was out to everyone in my life, the closet with some of so I’ve never had any issues with it,” my family and not being Gustin said. out with the other because On average, people in California I want to tell them and I are more comfortable being gay and want them to know, but it are willing to express themselves feels like it's more of a risk more because they seldom deal with to do that than to just stay homophobia and discrimination silent about it,” Hilliard according to Gustin. said, “It’s like I’m walking “The only thing [about being gay] on eggshells all the time, is you just have to be cautious about but it's just hard to build up what you do in public ... I don't worry the courage.” as much about it in California because Hilliard is in a it’s more a part of the culture there,” relationship with another Gustin said. 15-year-old boy who Joey Hilliard, a 15-year-old from is closeted from his Rushville, Ohio, identifies as gay and parents. Although lives in a small rural town. Hilliard and his boyfriend “There’s either people that are very expressive in

school, they spend no time outside of school without other friends present, according to Hilliard. “It’s like I still haven’t fully come out because he hasn’t,” Hilliard said. Sheridan High School, Hilliard’s school, is a rural farming school. According to Hilliard, there are some students who are open and free about who they are, but the majority of people at his school are non-accepting and closed minded. On average, Hiliard receives remarks about his sexuality three to four times a week. Hilliard tries not to take crude comments personally and tries to move forward when faced with hate. A Human Rights Campaign survey reported 92% in the LGBTQ youth community said they hear negative messages about being a part of the community.

Photo by Jennifer Stroud

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uring exam season, busy schedules and pressure to succeed academically give students big bouts of anxiety. But for some, anxiety is a year-round issue. About 7.1% of children ages 3 to 17 have been diagnosed with anxiety in the U.S., meaning that more than 4 million students struggle with this mental health condition. In Alabama, students’ mental health support often depends on the school they attend. The resources that students have access to, whether it’s counselors or mental health education programs, vary greatly between school districts. “Student mental health is one piece of the puzzle in terms of helping children succeed academically, socially and emotionally,” said Audrey Ellis, coordinator of social services for Tuscaloosa City Schools. “We recognize that in order for a child to be successful at school, we have to address those areas and recognize that trauma and depression and other issues impact academics.” However, sometimes it’s difficult for schools to reach out to students in need. Often, the stigma attached to mental health often prevents students from getting help, Ellis said. “That’s one of the reasons that people sometimes don’t speak (about) it,” she said. “In their minds that means that they may be ‘crazy’ instead of realizing that everyone goes through phases in their life when they need additional support.”

If students do have the courage to speak to someone, it can be difficult finding help at school. Counselors do have guidelines for student support, but most are focused on scheduling, testing and college preparation. Ellis said Tuscaloosa City Schools partners with Indian Rivers Mental Health Center so they can provide therapists at schools within the district, allowing for professional counseling to be given to students in need. Other conditions often diagnosed among students include depression and ADHD. These conditions can impact a student’s ability to perform academically, and public school systems lacking proper mental health support can make school especially difficult for these students. But many students struggling with mental health problems said they turn to teachers and peers instead. In Hoover, Alabama, Hoover City Schools approaches mental health support differently. Hoover High School,


Alabama ranks 50th in education and 46th in health care. See how students across the state cope with managing mental health while in school. one of the biggest public high schools in the state, has a counselor specifically for student support and intervention. Ashley Fuqua, who has a background in social work, spearheads Hoover’s efforts at spreading awareness and offering help for students dealing with mental health issues.

“Mental health can have a direct impact on (students’) academics and their ability to be able to focus in the classroom and complete assignments.”

-Ashley Fuqua

“Mental health can have a direct impact on (students’) academics and their ability to be able to focus in the classroom and complete assignments,” she said. “Yes, it’s what’s going on in their brain, but it’s also what’s going on at home.” Fuqua said Hoover has several

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

programs helping families struggling to meet basic needs, but her focus is on her students. “When people think of mental health they automatically think of people that are in the news and make those big headlines, and it’s not just that,” Fuqua said. “It’s that student that has major anxiety, it’s that student who had a big blowup at home and needs to work it out during that first period of class so that they can go the rest of the day and hopefully accomplish some work.” Hoover High School implements several programs to spread awareness about student mental health. Freshmen are educated about sexual harassment and assault from local organizations including the Hoover Police Department, and sophomores cover suicide awareness and prevention in their health classes. The whole school is involved in mental health awareness programs throughout the school year, including a week in September for suicide awareness and prevention and Pink Shirt Day, an anti-bullying campaign in the spring. Because she can focus solely on student support and her background is in social work, Fuqua said she provides important resources for the Hoover student body. Hoover City Schools’ active approach to mental health education and support can mean a lot to students struggling with mental health conditions, Fuqua said, and make it easier for those students to succeed in school and life. “Social workers are a vital part of meeting mental health needs,” she said. “I can do one-on-one counseling; I can also be that mediator when there’s a conflict and really bridge that gap and provide that understanding.”


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Arts programs struggle to survive as sports reap the benefits of effective fundraising KIRSTYN GRAY


alve oil, scripts, reeds, brushes — just objects to many, but indispensable to the thousands of students who benefit from art programs around the country. Money is tight. That’s always the case with education funding. And when funds run low, arts programs often take a hit instead of the traditional core curriculum courses. Problems with funding arise everywhere. Sheridan High School is one of the many places in the country to face those hardships. At a rural farming school in Thornville, Ohio, art programs such as band, choir and drama do not get the funding that they need. One student, Joseph Hilliard, is involved in most of the art programs offered at Sheridan, and he faces the challenges of a lack of funding every day.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“[Art] is a way to express yourself; not only for yourself, but for other people,” Hilliard said. “It has given me a way to open up and meet new people and understand more about myself.” Hilliard feels the arts do not receive enough recognition because they are not trying to reach a competitive goal. He believes the arts can allow small communities to join together and get things done as a whole with the use of teamwork. Joseph Hilliard is not the only student who faces the tough lack of funding at Sheridan High School. The band and choir directors, along with the art and drama teachers face this struggle every day, and it continues to occur every year. Another example of a funding issue for these programs can be found within Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama. According to Jody Evans, the multimedia teacher at

Tuscaloosa County High, the school does not provide money for programs within the school. Students in the class must pay $25 to enroll, but with shows to produce and conferences to attend, that is simply not enough to get by.

“Major donors are giving major donations to the new stadium,” Horsley said, “It’s hard to compete [for money.] It determines the level of investment we are willing to put in.”

-Leigh Horsley

“Imagination rules the world,” Evans said, “We have technology, we have beautiful art, and we have creativity.” Evans puts on fundraising events several times throughout the year with her students to raise enough money for proper equipment and the opportunity to go to competitions. In the 2018-19 school year, with the help of fundraising, she was able to purchase new equipment that had not been updated for seven to eight years. Even with this newer equipment, some students have to bring their own cameras to class due to the lack of quality of the cameras provided. “Without these fundraisers, we wouldn’t really be able to do anything,” Evans said. Evans later noted she shouldn’t have to fundraise because it takes time away from her teaching. The multimedia class is not the only one facing funding challenges. For example, students at Tuscaloosa

County High School are required to pay a $250 fee to participate in band, with additional costs for rental or purchase of instruments and materials. The choir also must cover their own expenses. In the future, Evans hopes to see programs such as hers collaborate with businesses in her community so her students have more chances for success. She would love for the community to go to events hosted by art programs at her school so they can see the talent and dedication involved. Another school in Alabama facing difficulty is the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham. Leigh Horsley, Director of Development at this school, is not thrilled about the divide in funding for the arts and sports. “Arts provide most of the same things [as sports],” Horsley said. She noted that students involved in the arts must have teamwork and discipline, just like any sport requires. Horsley believes students can draw connections between ideas and develop very valuable understandings more with the arts. “Major donors are giving major donations to the new stadium,” Horsley said, “It’s hard to compete [for money.] It determines the level of investment we are willing to put in.” According to Horsley, the arts heavily contribute to a student’s creativity, self discovery, and empathy. Art education received $1.3 million in government funding for the 2020 year according to Trisha Powell Crain of scribd.com; conversely, math, science, and technology received more than $29 million from the government. This drastic difference in funding is extremely vital to how much art programs can achieve throughout the school year.

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uition and fees are often a factor students consider when choosing where to go to college. At The University of Alabama (UA), students are using a variety of financial sources to cover their costs and expenses. Senior Brad Gomez is from Guam. He said as an Asian American of Filipino descent, it is culturally important for parents to pay for their

Graphic by Savannah Bullard

children’s university costs. “So, I wasn’t really worried about money,” he said. His parents pay for living expenses, as well, but Gomez said their overall financial burden is lower than what it could be at other places. “In comparison to other schools, Alabama is much cheaper,” he said. The average annual in-state tuition for UA is $10,780, but when combining direct and indirect costs, students may spend as much as $31,000 per year. America has a total amount of around $1.52 trillion of student loan


University of Alabama students explain their reasoning behind going to school at the Capstone debts, according to various sources. Shannon is a full-time senior at Alabama. She said this is the first summer she has not worked since she was 15, and her mother often gives her money for leisure activities and everyday needs. That has enabled Shannon to spend her money in other ways. “I didn’t really have a lot of financial challenges because I did have a lot of scholarships,” she said. “But I really wanted to be in a sorority, so that was a big one.” According to the university's website, the average cost to join Alabama’s Panhellenic Association as a new member ranges between $4,200 and $5,500 per semester for the first year. The average in-house living fee is $7,300 per semester. Dylan Wilson is a junior at Alabama who receives in-state tuition and scholarships. He also is eligible for financial aid, and that allows for

some flexibility. However, he said he still actively manages his money.

“I budget myself between school and personal needs/ wants with listing things by priority. It’s important to know what can wait and what cannot.”

-Dylan Wilson “I budget myself between school and personal needs/wants with listing things by priority,” Wilson said. “It’s important to know what can wait and what cannot.” Whether it’s for sororities, updated facilities or the diversity of the school, the students are content with paying to come to The University of Alabama.


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After World Series appearance, Alabama softball sets standard for post-season play



n their best season since their 2012 national championship run, the Crimson Tide made everyone remember that they are elite. The Tide went on a noteworthy run this past season, culminating a 60-10 overall record and a bid to the Women’s College World Series but came up just shy of playing for the national title. Back before their run to a WCWS berth, the team was on fire. They won 33 straight games before a loss to Texas A&M on March 24, with 10 of those games shortened because of the mercy rule, an exception where teams that are trailing by more than eight runs after five innings are forced to forfeit. Right off the bat, head coach Patrick Murphy knew this team was special. He specifically recalled an early road game against Troy University where his team had to face a tough pitcher in Leanna Johnson, who finished the year with a team leading 25-9 record and 2.19 ERA.


Alabama scored seven runs on her in the fourth inning and won 8-0. “I thought, ‘Wow, we got a shot to be pretty good,’” Murphy said. That feeling continued to grow when the Tide took down an Arizona team with six All-American players, 6-1, on February 16. But that was just the beginning: the Tide were able to defeat top-tier teams like Kentucky and Florida as the season progressed. Despite a loss to Florida in the SEC tournament, Alabama was once again selected for the World Series, seeded eighth.

“That was their goal all year long: just get back there. They went as freshmen, and then to be able to go back as seniors is really cool.”

-Patrick Murphy

In preparation for big games, Murphy and his staff try to make practices more difficult than normal and tailor drills to reflect the team they’ll face. With his assistant coaches being able to pitch right and left handed, the batters have what’s coming in mind. “We try to make practice faster

than a game, and really make them think, have a headache and get confused and all that stuff,” Murphy said. “So if the practice can be tougher than the games, I think you’ve got a pretty good shot to win.” And winning is exactly what they did. Behind a 15-5 record to close out the season, Alabama went runner-up in the SEC tournament, then won three straight games in the NCAA Tuscaloosa regionals before beating Texas 2-1 in the Super Regional series to advance to Oklahoma City. This was especially a huge moment for the seniors on the team, as they hadn’t been since their freshman year. “That was their goal all year long: just get back there,” Murphy said. “They went as freshmen, and then to be able to go back as seniors is really cool.” The Crimson Tide were seeded eighth, and expectations were low — for everyone except Murphy and his squad. To add fuel to the fire, it was the first Women’s College World Series for 16 of the 19 players. With youth and inexperience working against them, the facts were lining up with the projections. Come to find out, the team had other plans in mind. After dropping the first tournament game to Oklahoma, the women won three straight against Florida, Arizona and then exacted some measure of revenge on Oklahoma with a 1-0 victory in the first semifinal game. However, they lost the decisive game against the Sooners, 7-3, and had to settle for a third-place finish. It wasn’t the ending they wanted, but Murphy assured his players they’d be back. “When I switched pitchers a couple of times, I said to [juniors Krystal

Coach Patrick Murphy. Photos by Hannah Saad

Goodman and Sarah Cornell], ‘Look, we’re gonna be back here next year,’” Murphy said. “‘So I want you to take a minute, look around, get this feel, the sights, the sounds, everything, because you’re gonna be back here next year.’” Players like Bailey Hemphill, who led the team with a .375 batting average as well as setting Alabama singleseason records in homeruns (26) and RBIs (84) returns for her senior season next year. And KB Sides, who had a .304 batting average and 37 RBIs, will return in the 2020 season and make up the core in the batter's box. Ace pitcher Montana Fouts was a freshman this past season and with a 21-6 record and 1.39 ERA, she will look to stay hot her sophomore year. Murphy and his team expect to be back next year, and with the help of their fans, expect to win their first Women’s College World Series in eight years. “We have the best fans in the country,” Murphy said. “I don’t know what our average attendance was this year but they were the loudest they’ve ever been. Regionals and Super Regionals [were] incredible … We want it to feel like a postseason atmosphere, and the fans do that.”

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Local sports journalists share stories, thoughts from their time working in the field



or Edwin Stanton, his career at The Tuscaloosa News isn’t just about sports; it’s about coming home. Stanton started his career with The Crimson White at The University of Alabama and now he hopes to finish it in the very town he started. Stanton is the executive sports editor at The Tuscaloosa News. He’s written about sports his entire career. He also is now back to the same beat he got his start with, covering Alabama football. He enjoys seeing his old bylines posted on restaurant walls and now hopes to write even more. “I love Alabama sports,” Stanton said, “and being around Alabama national championships.” A newspaper professional since the 1990s, Stanton also enjoys putting the newspapers in readers’ hands and giving them a product they can enjoy. He loves being around people, including those he works within the newsroom as well as the Alabama coaches, players and staff. Stanton has Here are these journalsits’ home turfs:




Josh B



n Stanto

had the opportunity to cover many great football playoff runs, as Alabama is often in a position to win some significant titles during the football season. Josh Bean – like Stanton, a veteran sports journalist – has covered many stories and gained even more experience throughout his career. Now he hopes to pass it on to the next generation. Bean is the managing producer for sports at AL.com. However, he hopes to eventually start teaching. He started writing for his school newspaper during his senior year of high school and worked in many internships during college. He also started working for a small weekly newspaper, which Bean said, “helped me figure out what I wanted to do.” Bean is excited about the challenges and opportunities that changing technology affords to modern journalists. And as technology in the newsroom advances, Bean sees that his role at AL.com may change. “I like that I have the ability to be creative,'' he said. “I like every day to be different.” He covered many football games in his journalistic career, however there is one that stands out to him. In the 1997 Alabama state 1A semifinals, the Westbrook Christian Warriors faced off against the Parrish Tornadoes. After the game, the referees were assaulted by players, coaches and fans alike. “I came to cover the game ... We became breaking news reporters,” he said. Experiences like that are some of the reasons Bean enjoys journalism because every moment could become a story, and he is never off the clock. As he said, “You are always a reporter.” For some, sports journalism has been a dream and passion for their entire lives. But for Evan Dudley, this was never his dream.

“I have always felt fulfillment of telling others’ stories, ” Dudley said. “I love giving others a chance to shine.” And although he has not always told stories through his writing, Dudley shared them through music. “Throughout my twenties, I toured around the country,” he said. Playing music and bringing joy to people is Dudley's true passion. Dudley got his first taste of journalism during high school when he took a journalism class. He also started a morning news show in his school with a friend. However, throughout high school, his dream was to become a musician, and he did. He toured the country and eventually, he decided to settle down back in Alabama to work with less traveling. Dudley started working at AL.com

“I love giving others a chance to shine.”

-Evan Dudley to use his writing to tell others’ stories, the true meaning behind his work. And although the two professions are very different, the connection between them is very similar. “I learned to love it,'' Dudley said. “Anything worth a d*mn in this world is about people.” His music was meant for people, and now, so is his writing. Dudley started writing about The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) after its football program was shut down after the 2014 season. According to UAB President Ray Watts and the University of Alabama Board of Trustees, the football team would cost more than $49 million over the next five years.

Photo courtesy of Evan Dudley

However, almost exactly six months after the program was terminated, due to the fundraising of more than $27 million toward the football program and the general outrage of the public, the program was reinstated. That year, the UAB Blazers started working on a $22.5 million football practice facility and it opened a few months before the 2017 football season. That season, the team tied its record for most wins and became bowl eligible that year after winning seven games. The year after, the team won 10 games and made it to the conference championship against the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders. In the final game of the regular season, the team was matched up with Middle Tennessee, and the winner of this game would be the home team for next week's bowl game. Middle Tennessee blew the Blazers out, winning 27-3. UAB came back with a vengeance and challenged the Blue Raiders at home the week after, eventually defeating Middle Tennessee, 27-25. The Blazers went on to win the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl, the first in school history. ”I am going to keep telling that story,” Dudley said. He is also starting on a book about the football program. Although journalism was not always his dream, he has learned to love it.


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The Alabama Scholastic Press Association would like to say thank you to: Dean Mark Nelson and the C&IS Dean’s Office Dr. Cory Armstrong, Chair, Department of Journalism & Creative Media Jackie Hayes, Crechale Stevens, Hannah Jones, Austin Kohls, Nayeli Pineda and the Department of Journalism & Creative Media Steve Diorio and the staff of WVUA 23 All of our wonderful professionals and mentors! Patrons: Alabama Public Television Alabama Broadcasters Association Alabama Press Association ASPA Board Members: Capri Day President, Brookwood High School, Tuscaloosa Barbara Bateman Vice President, Daphne High School, Daphne Silvia Scaife Secretary, Auburn High School, Auburn Members at Large: Birmingham Connie Nolen, Pelham High School Montgomery Gina Aaij, LAMP High School Mobile Lindsey Koen, McGill-Toolen Catholic High School Huntsville Michelle Sisson, Lee High School Staff: Director Meredith Cummings Co-Director and Designer Savannah Bullard Lead Counselor AJ Spurr Director Emeritus Marie Parsons