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Journalist Dorothy Gilliam

Renee speaks with journalist Dorothy Gilliam, who was the first African-American female reporter at The Washington Post. She retired in 2003 after a 35-year career with the paper.
Season 11 Episode 7 Length 28:41 Premiere: 10/30/15

Pioneering Journalist Dorothy Gilliam

Sometimes one coincidence is all it takes.

Like the day that Dorothy Gilliam went to her part-time secretarial job at Louisville’s African-American newspaper, and the editor asked if she could fill in for an ailing co-worker.

Gilliam admits that the stories she wrote for the paper’s society page weren’t “War and Peace,” but there was something about the job of reporting that appealed to her.

“I cannot consciously say that I wanted to be a journalist,” says Gilliam. “But it just clicked for me, and it’s been a career that I have really loved ever since.”

Her stint at the Louisville Defender led Gilliam to a journalism degree and eventually a job as the first female African-American reporter at The Washington Post. Gilliam reflected on her career on KET’s Connections with Renee Shaw.

Gilliam was born in Memphis but grew up in Louisville, where her minister father helped build Youngs Chapel AME Church. After attending segregated elementary and secondary schools, Gilliam became part of the first class to integrate the old Ursuline College for women in Louisville. To pay her tuition, she took the secretary’s job at the the Louisville Defender. She continued her studies at Ursuline while she worked as a reporter for the paper.

“One of the things that it taught me was that journalism was a key that opened doors to new worlds,” Gilliam says.

Revealing the Terror of Segregation
Gilliam started at The Washington Post in 1961 after completing a degree at the prestigious Columbia University School of Journalism and an apprenticeship at Jet magazine.  At the Post, she joined a newsroom of several hundred people, only two of whom were black.

“I think being the first African-American woman, I felt it was important for me to succeed so that I could open the door for others,” recalls Gilliam.

But that success wouldn’t come easily. Gilliam says she faced skepticism among her white colleagues that she wasn’t capable of doing the job. And navigating Washington, D.C., wasn’t without its challenges. Gilliam says the nation’s capital was a “sleepy, segregated city” in the early 1960s; some neighborhoods were off-limits to blacks, and many taxicabs wouldn’t pick up African-American passengers.

Despite those obstacles, Gilliam proved herself and soon got assignments covering the civil rights movement in the South, including the integration of the University of Mississippi by James Meredith in 1962.

“These are events that helped the nation see the harm and terror that was being perpetrated by the white Southerners against African-Americans simply because of the color of their skin,” Gilliam says.

Combining Journalism with Activism
Gilliam also uncovered the deplorable living conditions in a Washington orphanage for black children. Her reporting drew the attention of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and the facility was soon closed and the children placed with families. Another series of stories led to the restoration of a slave cemetery at President George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon.

Gilliam stepped away from The Washington Post for a few years to start a family, but then returned in the 1970s as a writer and later a metro columnist. She also created a young journalists development program for the paper to help encourage African-American students to enter the field.

The Next Generation
“One of the things that helped me continue my journalistic career,” Gilliam says, “was the work that I did within the industry trying to help increase the numbers of minority journalists, and editors, and publishers.”

Following her tenure at The Washington Post, Gilliam spent a decade at George Washington University, where she further worked to promote journalism careers to the younger generations. She also served as the president of the National Association for Black Journalists.

Despite all the social changes she’s witnessed during her lifetime, Gilliam says many challenges remain for the country, especially on matters of racial and economic equality. And she hopes journalists will continue to reveal and bring clarity to those issues.

“We need many voices telling the story, so that the people of the nation can understand each other rather than sit in their separate cubicles and form stereotypes about each other,” Gilliam says.

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Season 11 Episodes

Businessman Phil Wilkins

S11 E43 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 08/19/16

Training Business Leaders

S11 E42 Length 26:21 Premiere Date 08/12/16

NBA Great Dominique Wilkins

S11 E41 Length 27:47 Premiere Date 08/05/16

DEA Agent Gary Tuggle

S11 E40 Length 27:47 Premiere Date 07/29/16

Addiction and Public Health Reform

S11 E39 Length 29:11 Premiere Date 07/22/16

Addiction and the Criminal Justice System

S11 E38 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 07/15/16

Addiction in Rural Communities

S11 E37 Length 29:26 Premiere Date 07/07/16

Addiction and Mental Health

S11 E36 Length 29:06 Premiere Date 07/01/16

Recovery Services for Inmates

S11 E35 Length 28:26 Premiere Date 06/24/16

Veterans Treatment Court

S11 E34 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 06/17/16

Opioid Epidemic in Northern Ky.

S11 E33 Length 27:21 Premiere Date 06/10/16

Treatment Models for Addiction

S11 E32 Length 27:51 Premiere Date 06/03/16

Jazz Vocalist Jessie Laine Powell

S11 E31 Length 28:11 Premiere Date 05/27/16

Kentucky Oral Health Coalition

S11 E30 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 05/20/16

Dr. Kishonna Gray on Gaming

S11 E29 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 05/13/16

Advocating for Victims Rights

S11 E28 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 05/06/16

Advice for Parents on Coping Techniques

S11 E27 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 04/29/16

Author and Poet Crystal Wilkinson

S11 E26 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 04/22/16

Secretary Grimes on Voting Access

S11 E25 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 04/15/16

Child Abuse and Neglect

S11 E24 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 04/08/16

Overcoming Eating Disorders

S11 E21 Length 28:59 Premiere Date 02/26/16

Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton

S11 E19 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 02/12/16

Remembering Georgia Davis Powers

S11 E18 Length 29:31 Premiere Date 02/05/16

Giving Students a Voice

S11 E17 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 01/29/16

Addressing Youth Violence

S11 E16 Length 28:11 Premiere Date 01/22/16

Professor Wayne Lewis

S11 E15 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 01/15/16

Ed. Commissioner Stephen Pruitt

S11 E14 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 01/08/16

State Sen. Julie Raque Adams

S11 E13 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 01/01/16

Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear

S11 E11 Length 28:57 Premiere Date 12/11/15

Miss Kentucky Clark Davis

S11 E10 Length 29:03 Premiere Date 11/20/15

Ari Berman on Voting Rights

S11 E9 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 11/13/15

Poet Allison Joseph

S11 E8 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 11/06/15

Journalist Dorothy Gilliam

S11 E7 Length 28:41 Premiere Date 10/30/15

Author Jacinda Townsend

S11 E6 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 10/09/15

Kellie Blair Hardt

S11 E5 Length 28:16 Premiere Date 10/02/15

Childhood Cancer

S11 E4 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 09/25/15

Kentucky African-American Encyclopedia

S11 E3 Length 28:11 Premiere Date 09/18/15

Manny Caulk

S11 E2 Length 28:09 Premiere Date 09/11/15

25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

S11 E1 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 09/03/15

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What does it take to be a good leader? Renee speaks with Marian Guinn and Lisa Williams, the creators of the High Impact Leadership Project that helps people build their leadership prowess. Then, life coach Colene Elridge discusses her workplace trainings on communication, generational understanding, empowering women in leadership roles, and self-care.

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Premiered On: 07/07/2017

Renee's guest is Pikeville, Kentucky native Walter Gilliam, director of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy and associate professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at the Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Gilliam has done extensive research in early childhood education and intervention policy analysis and talks about his research on implicit bias among preschool educators. He was a keynote speaker at Kentucky's 2017 Early Childhood Institute conference in Louisville.

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Sec. Vickie Yates Brown Glisson

Premiered On: 08/04/2017

Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, talks about Governor Bevin's plan to overhaul the state's Medicaid program, how the cabinet is responding to the opioid addiction crisis, and recruiting and retaining social workers.

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Jeff Hawkins and Robert Brown

Premiered On: 08/11/2017

The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) serves 21 school districts in southeast Kentucky. Renee speaks with Jeff Hawkins, executive director, and Robert Brown, professional learning lead, of KVEC.

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Sam Quinones

Premiered On: 09/01/2017

Renee speaks with journalist Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic and other books. A reporter for almost 30 years, Quinones lived and worked as a freelance writer in Mexico and is a former reporter for the LA Times.

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Kristin Ashford - Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

Premiered On: 09/08/2017

Renee speaks with Kristin Ashford, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Kentucky College of Nursing whose research focuses on prenatal care and interventions aimed at preventing/ending tobacco use and illicit drugs. The program features a young woman who's participating in "Get Fit and Quit" recovery/smoking cessation program that is a partnership between the UK College of Nursing, Chrysalis House (a treatment center for women), and the YMCA. Part of KET's on-going initiative "Smoking and Health" funded in part by a grant from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao

Premiered On: 09/22/2017

Renee sits down with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for a wide-ranging, one-on-one interview. Filmed at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, Chao discusses the U.S. Department of Transportation's involvement in emergency response and rebuilding efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, plans to address the nation's transportation infrastructure, and other issues.

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Steve Beshear

Premiered On: 09/29/2017

Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear discusses his new book, "People Over Politics", that covers the tests and triumphs of his administration from 2007-2015. He talks about embracing the Affordable Care Act and expanding Medicaid in Kentucky, his philosophical evolution on same-sex marriage, his unsuccessful struggle with advancing expanded gambling, the persistent plight of funding public employee pensions, among other issues.

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Gordon Hamlin

Premiered On: 10/13/2017

Renee's guest Gordon Hamlin, president of Pro Bono Public Pensions and a retired attorney, offers ideas about how to fix Kentucky's ailing public pension systems. Hamlin recommends that Kentucky transition to a shared risk pension plan: longer working careers, elimination of cost of living adjustments, and transition to career average formula.

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Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Premiered On: 10/20/2017

Renee Shaw discusses youth suicide prevention with Julie Cerel, a professor, licensed clinical psychologist, and president of the American Association of Suicidology. She also talks with Courtney Parr, who shares her powerful and inspiring journey to better mental health.

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Health Issues - Sen. Julie Raque Adams and Rep. Addia Wuchner

Premiered On: 11/03/2017

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Premiered On: 11/17/2017

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Premiered On: 12/15/2017

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Silas House

Premiered On: 01/12/2018

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DV8 Kitchen

Premiered On: 01/19/2018

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Gerald Smith

Premiered On: 02/09/2018

Dr. Gerald Smith, a history professor at the University of Kentucky and co-editor of "The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia", joins Renee to discuss race relations in honor of Black History Month. Topics include activism around removing Confederate statues, the status of black leadership in Kentucky, and Dr. Smith's thoughts on the needed response from the faith-based community in eradicating racism.

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Bob Jackson - Murray State University

Murray State University is celebrating its centennial birthday this year. Renee Shaw talks to the president of MSU, Bob Jackson, about his presidency, career, and a new book he has co-authored, entitled "The Finest Place We Know: A Centennial History of Murray State University, 1922-2022."

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Educational Innovation

Premiered On: 02/16/2018

Educational innovation in the mountains is leading to a teaching and learning renaissance in southeast Kentucky. Renee and her guests, Dr. Dessie Bowling, associate director of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative and Rose Shields, rural project manager for the Center for Excellence in Rural Health at the University of Kentucky, discuss recent innovative education practices in the region.

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Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Premiered On: 04/06/2018

"Connections" remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. Renee speaks with organizers of a commemorative event in Frankfort and shares highlights from speeches at the MLK Memorial March to Move.

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Child Marriage Laws in Kentucky - Donna Pollard

Premiered On: 04/13/2018

Renee speaks with Donna Pollard, a child marriage survivor and founder of Survivors' Corner, who has become the ambassador for changing child marriage laws in Kentucky with the passage of Senate Bill 48 that was signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin on March 29, 2018. SB 48 raises the legal age to marry to 18 in Kentucky with some exceptions.

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Kosair Charities Face It Movement; Terry Brooks

Premiered On: 04/20/2018

In part one, Renee speaks with Keith Inman with Kosair Charities and Dr. Jennifer Green, University of Louisville Child Abuse Pediatrics Fellow about Kosair Charities Face It Movement that provides resources for parents and caregivers on child abuse. In part two, Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, talks about legislation passed in the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly that benefits children and families.

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Dr. Donna Grigsby

Premiered On: 05/11/2018

Renee speaks with Lexington pediatrician Dr. Donna Grigsby about early childhood brain development and the impact of adverse childhood experiences on cognitive and physical health. Dr. Grigsby discusses how to develop literacy skills in young children.

  • Friday January 6, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Cory Jewell Jensen - S12 E18

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Restaurateur and Chef Ouita Michel - S16 E31

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David Thompson - S12 E11

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Mitzi Sinnott - S12 E3

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FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf - S12 E2

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Phil Wilkins - S11 E43

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Tameka Montgomery - S11 E42

  • Monday November 28, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Dayna Seelig - S15 E12

  • Sunday December 4, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
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Dominique Wilkins - S11 E41

  • Friday November 25, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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UK President Eli Capilouto - S18 E6

  • Thursday November 24, 2022 11:30 pm ET on KET
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Gary Tuggle - S11 E40

  • Thursday November 24, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Dr. Leana Wen - S11 E39

  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 10:29 pm ET on KETKY
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Terrence Walton - S11 E38

  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - S11 E37

  • Monday November 21, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Author Emily Bingham - S18 E11

  • Sunday November 27, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
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Kimberly Johnson - S11 E36

  • Friday November 18, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Jason Merrick - S11 E35

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Fayette County Veterans Treatment Court - S11 E34

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Dr. Lynne Saddler - S11 E33

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Scott Hesseltine - S11 E32

  • Monday November 14, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Bill Goodman - Kentucky Humanities - S18 E10

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  • Saturday November 19, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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  • Sunday November 13, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
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Jessie Laine Powell - S11 E31

  • Friday November 11, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Oral Health Care In Kentucky - S11 E30

  • Thursday November 10, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 10, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday November 10, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 10, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kishonna Gray - S11 E29

  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Gretchen Hunt - S11 E28

  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dr. Erin Frazier - S11 E27

  • Monday November 7, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Restoring American Democracy - S18 E9

  • Friday November 25, 2022 11:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Friday November 25, 2022 10:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Friday November 25, 2022 10:00 pm ET on KETKY
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  • Friday November 25, 2022 6:30 pm ET on KET
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  • Sunday November 13, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
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  • Saturday November 12, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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  • Sunday November 6, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
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  • Sunday November 6, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Breast Cancer - S18 E8

  • Sunday November 6, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday November 5, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Crystal Wilkinson - S11 E26

  • Friday November 4, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Criminal Justice Reform - Cherise Fanno Burdeen - S13 E34

  • Thursday November 3, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 3, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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