Senior White House Correspondent Writes Anthem for Black ‘Sheroes’
April Ryan, the longest-serving Black female White House correspondent, is carrying on, unafraid, with her latest book, Black Women Will Save the World: An Anthem.
Over the last 25 years, Ryan has covered numerous historical events throughout five presidential administrations. She’s the only Black woman reporter covering urban issues from the White House — a position she has held since the Clinton administration.
She has openly shared her experiences navigating through the traumas of silence attempts, death threats, and even a fake bomb threat during Donald Trump‘s presidency.
Transforming her pain into progress has led her to pen an inspiring and melodious tribute.
The CNN political analyst, D.C. bureau chief for TheGrio, author, speaker, and mother is now celebrating America’s founding Black mothers as “sheroes” who make the extraordinary ordinary. In the book, illustrated by Philadelphia artist Jeff Manning, Ryan also gives flowers to Black women leaders like voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Pulitzer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones, and Vice President Kamala Harris, to name a few.
The book was released by HarperCollins Publishers on Oct. 18, 2022.
“Black women have taken a lot. When I say that, I mean by giving so much of themselves for so long, without receiving recognition for holding up communities, our families, and other people’s families since our inception here in the United States,” Ryan told BLACK ENTERPRISE.
“We’ve held up workhouses, schoolhouses, now the Supreme Court and the White House, and we need to talk about that part. This is the moment when we are seeing the elevation of Black women in the highest spaces and places ever – this is history, and the moment needs to be marked,” she continued.
April Ryan shared more with BLACK ENTERPRISE about the motivation behind the book.
Why is “Black Women Save The World” an anthem?
Because we are going to sing it over and over again – because it is true. Just look at the landscape right now, you don’t need to look too far. If we don’t sing it over and over again, don’t say it over and over again, ground will be lost, and that’s what we don’t want to see. I’m saying this as a Black woman, who shows up as a Black woman every day, at some of the most lofty spaces and places you’ve ever seen.
Everyone has a story, but you’ve always marveled at Black women. What needs and/or challenges have you witnessed first-hand?
As a Black woman, sometimes I’m alone in my space at the White House, because I’m marked as the “Angry Black Woman.” Which I’m not. Or, “Oh, she’s the woman who always talks about race,” and I do. But I also talk about other things. These are some of the things I have witnessed first-hand.
How did your experiences as a trailblazing White House correspondent motivate you to tell the stories of other Black “sheroes”?
The motivation for me to write these stories was born out of the fact that we had a president who was calling Black women out by name and disrespecting them, denying their abilities – and I was one of them. I did not want THAT to be my legacy. So that’s one of the reasons I wrote the book, and to celebrate the “Sheroes” who are here, and the ones to come, and let them know how to carry on and not be afraid.
Tell us about “The Year That Changed Everything.” What did it mean for you?
Was it the year Joe Biden decided to name Kamala Harris as his running mate, or was it when he was running for office and said he was going to nominate a Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, or was it when he chose Karine Jean-Pierre as his White House Press Secretary, or was it when he named Susan Rice head of Domestic Policy, or when he named Shalanda Young as head of OMB?
When it comes to the Supreme Court, they have been trying to get this representation since Bill Clinton, and talked about it with Obama, but it happened now. I can’t say it was just one year. When Biden decided he was really going to do these things, when he spoke vocally about having a Black woman running mate, when he became President and acted on more than what he promised, it is a build-up of years that made this possible.
What are some of the biggest lessons you learned from the women you interviewed?
Keisha Lance-Bottoms said her ability to think for herself has been challenged. After hearing her opinions, someone asked her “Where did you get that from?” I’ve learned that you can be in the highest places and still wonder if you belong… but the membership of the Black Panther party was about 70% women and I think that is a powerful lesson right there.