Meet Pamela Newkirk
Author, journalist, and professor Pamela Newkirk is a multifaceted scholar who has published a variety of works that present multidimensional portraits of African American life. Her first book, Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media explores the historical and contemporary struggles of African American journalists integrating mainstream newsrooms, while her later collections A Love No Less and Letters from Black America present more than two-hundred letters written by African Americans over the past three centuries. Newkirk’s forthcoming Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga traces the journey of Ota Benga from the Congo to the United States where, at the turn of the century, he was exhibited at the St. Louis World’s Fair and later the Bronx Zoo Monkey House. Using primary historical documents, Newkirk traces Benga’s footsteps from the Congo, to St. Louis, New York and finally Lynchburg, Virginia where he spent the final years of his short life. She exposes the true circumstances of his capture and captivity which have been sanitized in contemporary accounts, and illuminates why, a century later, the man most responsible for his exploitation has been widely depicted as his friend and savior. Spectacle casts a spotlight on race, science, and elite men and institutions during the early years of the 20th century.
Growing up in New York City, Pamela was surrounded by black memorabilia from her father, an antique dealer who collected posters, letters, books, and photographs depicting African American life. This ephemera became a life-long source of inspiration for Pamela who developed a keen interest in the unexplored history of the African Diaspora.
Pamela began her journalism career writing for various African American newspapers and eventually landed her first job as a daily reporter for The Knickerbocker News in Albany, New York where she eventually covered the New York State Legislature. From there she went to Washington, D.C. as a Capitol Hill correspondent for Gannett News Service. Later she worked for newspapers in New York City. Among her assignments was the coverage of the election of David Dinkins, the city’s first African American mayor. She also traveled to South Africa and witnessed Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. Her series of articles was awarded the International Reporting Award from the New York Association of Black Journalists. Two years later, in 1992, Pamela was on the New York Newsday reporting team awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Spot News for coverage of a fatal subway crash. In 1993 Pamela joined the faculty at New York University and continued contributing articles to numerous publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation, Artnews, Essence, and civil rights blog, The Defenders Online.
Pamela holds a B.A. in journalism from New York University and later received her master’s degree in journalism and a Ph.D. in Comparative and International Education from Columbia University. She is professor of journalism and director of undergraduate studies at NYU’s Carter Journalism Institute and is the extremely proud mother of Marjani and Mykel Nairne. She lives in New York City with her husband Michael and dog Miso.