News Releases



Selma March 50th Anniversary Commemoration Covered by Ithaca College Student Journalists

Updated March 10, 2015 at 1 p.m.

BuzzFeed featured several photos taken by student journalist Kelli Kyle in some of their coverage of the march: "Selma Bridge Crossing Almost Canceled Due To Large Crowd Numbers, But Demonstrators March On"

A story by Candace King was featured on the NBC News website: "Of Selma's Past and Future: Young Activists Marching Forward"

The video embedded in King's piece was shot by Kyle.

ITHACA, NY — As the nation commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights — during which the peaceful marchers were beaten by Alabama state troopers after crossing the  Edmund Pettus Bridge — a group of Ithaca College journalism students will be providing coverage for NBC News.

A series of events over the coming week will highlight the march and its place in the Civil Rights movement, with what became known as “Bloody Sunday” shocking the conscience of the nation and helping lead to passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. President Obama will speak at the bridge on Saturday, March 7.

James Rada, associate professor of journalism in Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications, will lead a team of six student journalists to Alabama. They will interview some of the original marchers and put together stories on such activities as a mentoring program for young men in Selma and a community art project.

The Park School has partnered with NBC News to provide coverage that will be used for “NBC Nightly News” and at NBCnews.com. On Sunday, March 8, the students will stream live coverage of the march reenactment through NBC’s Stringwire online platform.

The students taking part in the trip are seniors Candace King and Sara McCloskey, and sophomores Hannah Basciano, Tiarra Braddock, Kelli Kyle and Ciara Lucas. They will be documenting the entire weekend via Twitter at #icparkselma50.

Rada says the students will get invaluable experience applying their classroom learning in a real-world setting, where they will get to face all the pressures and problems that journalists face every day. 

“So much of what we know about our past, and even much of what we experience in the present, comes through textbooks or the two-dimensional media provided by television, computers and smartphones,” said Rada. “These students are going to immerse themselves into the commemoration of an actual historical event on the site of that event, with people who participated in that event. And through that, they will broaden their horizons in a way that we just can’t achieve in the classroom.”

He also notes that the documentation provided by these students will become a critical part of the historical record.

“Our students will take part in recording this weekend’s commemoration for all time to come, and when the 100th anniversary is here, their coverage will serve as the voice of record for those original participants who they interviewed in 2015. And they will be the ones to tell people what it was like in 2015 and why this event, and its commemoration, took place.”

The students have also been invited to take part in an online discussion on Tuesday, March 10, hosted by PBS’s EducationShift website, which focuses on innovations in journalism education. The session is scheduled for 1 p.m. EDT at www.pbs.org/mediashift/education.

This is not the first time that Rada has taken journalism students on the road to cover a significant occasion in Civil Rights history. In 2013, he traveled to the nation’s capital with a dozen Park School students for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, providing coverage that was used on the weekend edition of NBC Nightly News and PBS.

Rada’s documentary “Meet Me at Equality: The People’s March on Washington,” for which he interviewed participants in the event at which Martin Luther King Jr. made his “I Have a Dream” speech, aired on several PBS member stations.

For more information, contact Rada at jrada@ithaca.edu.