April Ryan talks NC roots during visit to Forsyth Tech

April Ryan speaks at Forsyth Tech on Jan. 12.

April Ryan talks NC roots during visit to Forsyth Tech
January 20
06:36 2023

In 1997, Baltimore native April Ryan started working as a White House correspondent and that’s a beat she has held ever since. Last week Ryan visited Winston-Salem as part of Forsyth Technical Community College’s Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. symposium. 

During the candid conversation with Itinease McMiller of WFMY News 2, Ryan talked about her journey from Baltimore, Maryland, to becoming one of only three African Americans ever to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents Association, a prestigious group of journalists who cover dealings in the White House and the President of the United States. 

Although she was born and raised in Baltimore, while speaking to McMiller in front of a large crowd inside Rhodes Conference Center, Ryan said at her roots she’s a country girl from North Carolina. She said growing up she spent every summer with her maternal grandparents who lived in Eastern North Carolina. “I’m a country girl who likes boiled peanuts and hush puppies. And that barbecue with that wonderful vinegar base,” said Ryan while discussing her local roots. 

Ryan went on to explain that her grandparents owned 100 acres of land in Columbus County at a time when it was unheard of for Black people to own property. “I cherish what my grandparents built here in North Carolina,” she said. 

Ryan said those long, hot, and humid summers in the fields, and the tough streets of Baltimore, helped mold her into who she is today. She said there weren’t many examples of successful people coming from her neighborhood, but she was determined to make it. 

“I’m here today because of a praying mother, a praying father, a praying grandmother, a praying grandfather, and that exposure,” Ryan continued. “I’m telling you I think kids need to go down South because we used to do that … when we got a little wild, our parents would say, ‘you’re going down South next summer,’ or to just get that exposure, that different experience, and it was important for my life.” 

After high school Ryan went on to attend Morgan State University where she graduated with B.S. in broadcast journalism. Prior to joining the White House press corps, Ryan worked for various radio stations across the country. 

In 1997 Ryan took over as White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks (AURN), the only African American owned and operated Nielsen RADAR-rated radio network in the United States. Through her work with AURN over the years, The Grio, her blog “Fabric of America,” features in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Elle magazines to name a few, and almost daily appearances on CNN, Ryan has become known as the voice of Black and urban America when it comes to politics. 

Ryan is also a member of the National Press Club, honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta, and an award-winning author. In 2015 she was nominated for a NAACP Image Award.

During her conversation with McMiller, Ryan also discussed her latest book, “Black Women Will Save the World: An Anthem,” what it was like working through the Trump era and the era of Fake News, the changes in journalism over the years, and much more. She also took questions from the audience. 

In a press release, Dr.LaShan Lovelace, chief inclusive, excellence & belonging officer at Forsyth Tech, said they were honored to have Ryan share her story. 

“We are honored to have April Ryan here to help us celebrate the work of Dr. King,” Lovelace said. “April’s trailblazing work reporting on urban issues from the White House since the Clinton era is impressive.” 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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