WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2021 — The National Press Club, the world’s leading professional organization for journalists, has chosen Kaleb Anderson of Washington, D.C., as the winner of its 2021 Diversity Scholarship Award. The award for graduating high school seniors totals as much as $20,000 over four years.
Anderson, a graduate of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, impressed the judges with the maturity of his writing covering the Black Lives Matter movement over the last year.
His work also has been published in USA Today. The piece, “Unsung Heroes: The Tuskegee Airmen get the Lucasfilm treatment,” reports plans to make a major movie about the first African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces during World War II.
“This was my first published article in an internationally distributed newspaper,” Anderson wrote in his application essay. “I was given a hard deadline, had to do my research, and had to work with an editor. This opportunity allowed me to get a feel for the industry.”
“The story, which was published online and in print, generated much interest and attention,” said Deborah Berry, a national correspondent for USA Today in her letter of recommendation.
Anderson, who is studying journalism at the University of Missouri, said he wants to be a “storyteller” in order to have impact. He has participated in the Urban Journalism Workshop, supported by the Washington Association of Black Journalists, for four years.
“In journalism, I have the power to change the narrative on a topic and help bring different perspectives,” he wrote in his essay. Anderson said he was surprised that so few USA Today readers knew about the Tuskegee Airmen. His story allowed him “to articulate the power of encouraging black stories within the mainstream media and the importance of the contributions of African Americans to American history.”
The National Press Club Scholarship Committee also noted the ways Anderson has used his computer skills and information technology to assist others during the pandemic. A letter of recommendation from Anderson’s minister described how Anderson helped his church ensure that “members have been able to enjoy our services virtually and remain connected” during the Covid shutdown of religious services.
“Emerging journalists, through their tenacity and commitment to covering topics important to their communities, remind us of the impact journalists can have on the world around them,” said Lisa Matthews, National Press Club president. “We’re proud of Kaleb’s dedication and delighted to support a local graduate who has big goals for his future.”
This year’s runner-up is Khayla Robinson of Takoma Park, Md.
The Julie Schoo Scholarship for Diversity in Journalism provides the recipient $5,000 a year over four years. Named in memory of the late Julie Cooper Schoo, who was executive director of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, the scholarship is awarded annually to outstanding high school students who are considering a career in journalism and will help create more inclusive, diverse newsrooms.
Anderson is one of dozens of award winners who will be honored at the National Press Club’s Annual Journalism Awards Dinner, to be held virtually from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on December 8, 2021. The National Press Club’s Journalism Awards celebrate the best in American broadcast and print journalism.
Scholarship winners and runners-up are also awarded one-year complimentary membership to the National Press Club.