Rochelle Riley

Rochelle Riley is Director of Arts and Culture for the city of Detroit. The author, essayist and arts advocate ended a nearly 20-year stint in 2019 as a columnist for the Detroit Free Press, where she was a leading voice for children, education, competent government and race. She is author of The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery and the upcoming That They Lived: Twenty African Americans Who Changed the World. She travels the country with The Burden, speaking at libraries, churches and universities about the burden that America still bears because it refuses to deal with the aftermath of slavery. Rochelle also is a co-founder of Letters to Black Girls, a project that grew from a single presentation to a national mission to pass words of encouragement from black women to girls. She makes frequent television and radio appearances, including on National Public Radio and MSNBC, WDIV-Local 4 and Fox2. Rochelle has won numerous awards, including two National Headliner Awards (2019 and 2004) for best local column writing, the 2017 Eugene C. Pulliam Editorial Fellowship from the Society of Professional Journalists and the 2017 Ida B. Wells Award from the National Association of Black Journalists for her outstanding efforts to make newsrooms and news coverage more accurately reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. She received the Will Rogers Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for community service and the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Rochelle is a national and global traveler who has been to 32 states and 28 countries – and counting. She was a 2007-2008 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, where she studied online communities and film. She was a 2016 inductee into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame and a 2019 inductee into the North Carolina Media and Journalism Hall of Fame, She lives near the banks of the Detroit River where she and her 15-year-old dog, Desi, walk daily to watch the sun rise.






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