DTU JOURNAL ENTRY 1: THE DETROIT IMMERSION EVENT CHANGED MY LIFE
Kelsey Jones (NNPA/DTU Journalism Fellow)
A journey. An experience. These two words best describe my trip to Detroit, Mich., for the immersion event that marked the official start of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) “Discover The Unexpected” (DTU) Journalism Fellowship program. When boarding my flight that Thursday morning, I had no idea what to expect. I never thought about visiting the “Motor City” or had any desire to do so.
When I learned that I would be traveling to Detroit, I immediately googled “things to do in Detroit.” My search didn’t show Dilla’s Delights, a small doughnut shop named after the gifted hip-hop producer J Dilla; the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History didn’t crack the Top 10 Places to visit, either. Visiting both of these Detroit gems during the trip, changed me in profound ways and I’m a much more open-minded person now than I was before.
I’ll never forget the warm welcome we received as our shuttle pulled up to 1625 West Lafayette Boulevard in front of Ladder Company No. 12, a renovated firehouse and converted studio of Ed Welburn, the former global design chief for General Motors. I could sense that I was in the presence of Black excellence; the feeling I experienced was overwhelming, yet liberating. I felt tears welling up in my eyes, as I exited the shuttle. Though I recognized a few faces in the crowd, I was astounded that everyone was rooting and cheering for me, encouraging all of the fellows. They didn’t know me personally, but from their claps and smiles, I knew they had faith in my selection as a NNPA/DTU fellow. During the “meet and greet,” I had the esteemed pleasure to converse with many of the people there. NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., and award-winning journalist Jamilah Lemieux gave brief, yet, uplifting remarks. I was wholeheartedly honored to be in their presence. I was even more stunned at the events that followed.
After we indulged in a buffet lunch, DTU program coordinators told us that we would embark on a scavenger hunt that would take us all over the city. Not only were we going to have a unique and thrilling adventure in Detroit, we were also going to drive the all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. When we stopped at Dilla’s Delights, I learned about the new hip-hop, inspired doughnut shop and its significance to the city of Detroit. The owner, Herman Hayes, opened the shop to pay tribute to his late nephew, J Dilla. Glenn Telton, the manager, took the time to teach us the rich history behind the creation of the doughnut shop. His passion for the shop was enlightening and inspirational.
The last stop on our scavenger hunt was by far my most memorable experience. I have never been a fan of museums, but my journey through the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History has contributed to my newfound appreciation for museums. As soon as we crossed the threshold of the museum, I instantly felt the energy of my ancestors. I was in complete awe. I found myself roaming off to view a large piece of art that featured Black inventors. The tour guide was phenomenal and his knowledge was essential to my understanding about the museum and the rich history inside within its walls. Our walk through the slave ship was life-changing. Emotions overwhelmed me as I saw my ancestors enslaved in the most inhumane and brutal conditions. The sights and sounds (we could hear the screams and wailing of the enslaved Africans through well-placed speakers) forced me to reflect on my life and remind myself of how blessed I am. My ancestors bared conditions that I could not fathom. My first visit to the Wright museum will not be my last and I plan to encourage my peers to visit the museum, as well.
Through each session during the immersion event, I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about the NNPA and Chevrolet and I’m thankful to them for granting me this amazing opportunity. I know that this fellowship will not only help me to broaden my horizons as a budding journalist, but it will also increase my awareness about what it means to be an African-American in today’s society.
Kelsey Jones is a 2017 NNPA “Discover The Unexpected” Journalism Fellow and a student at Spelman College. This summer, Kelsey is creating content for The Atlanta Voice, a member newspaper of the NNPA. Follow Kelsey on Twitter @kelseyfjones.
Fellow, The Atlanta Voice
Kelsey Jones is a senior pursuing an English degree at Spelman College. Born and raised in Albany, GA, this budding journalist developed a passion for Journalism while in high school after being on the school’s yearbook staff. She aspires to be a local reporter/anchor in a top 10 market. Kelsey has honed her journalistic skills as a news intern at WSB-TV and a former staff writer for the Morehouse College Maroon Tiger Newspaper. She also has had her photo essay of her travels to the Dominican Republic displayed in a photo exhibition at Spelman College. As a first-generation college student, Kelsey plans to use her voice to reach a broader audience and embark on a journey to Discover the Unexpected.