By Oscar Miller
“Keep on down the Yellow Brick Road of your choice to reach the tomorrows you perhaps can’t see clearly, but that are out there. Focus on your individual life plans and on your collective future.”
That was the essence of Linda Wright Moore’s message to Philadelphia-area students who were honored during an awards dinner that capped the 35th annual Acel Moore High School Journalism Workshop.
Wright Moore delivered a rousing speech to an audience of young journalists, their parents, and guests on April 6 in Philadelphia Media Network’s Public Space.
In attendance were Michael Days, PMN vice president for diversity and inclusion; members of the workshop committee; and staff volunteers who mentored workshop participants during the four-week, hands-on program.
Wright Moore, widow of Acel Moore, a former associate editor of the Inquirer and founder of the workshop that bears his name, was reflective but mostly inspirational during her speech.
“It’s going on 47 years since I first set foot in a newsroom, but it feels like only yesterday,” said Wright Moore, a former Philadelphia Daily News columnist. “Trust me. Life really is short. It just looks like it will go on forever, when the telescope of your destiny is not yet open, and the path ahead is not clear.”
She told students that as they add years and experience, the telescope will get longer and longer, and their goals will become more defined.
“Eventually, you get perspective on yourself, your passion and your purpose in life, and on the myriad events, people, and choices that will challenge you on your journey,” said Wright Moore, who briefly served as an adviser to the dean at the School of Public Health at Drexel University.
She noted how much broadcast and print journalism have changed from the days of her childhood. Back then, she said, she was enamored by the grainy images that flashed on “a big piece of furniture with a little screen” as she read the Sunday funnies after church while her father read the main paper.
“What was so different back in my day? There were probably three factors: Limited media choices, much slower production, and a consistent set of values and facts that were generally shared by all,” said Wright Moore, a graduate of Stanford University. “Both news and entertainment media were a shared experience within families and communities.”
She checked off several stories she said she enjoyed reading in First Take, the student newspaper participants produced at the end of the workshop. “Good stories and hard questions. I am sure Acel would be pleased,” she said of the students’ work.
Indeed, Moore, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and columnist at The Inquirer, would have been pleased to see a program he started in 1984 still flourishing.
Throughout his 42-year career at The Inquirer, Moore worked tirelessly with teachers and educators in the Philadelphia School District to promote journalism careers for students of color.
One of Moore’s lifelong goals was to advance diversity and inclusion in journalism. Over the years, hundreds of students have used the workshop to launch successful careers in communications and other fields.
During the awards dinner, program director Oscar Miller presented four $1,000 scholarships to the top students in the Class of 2019. The recipients were Sabir Abdusshaheed of the Darul Arqam school in New Jersey; junior Faith Chung of Julia R. Masterman High; Kelvin Nuñez, a junior at West Catholic Prep; and photojournalist Nayeli Perez of Academy at Palumbo.
Wright Moore thanked PMN’s staffers, who she said are carrying on Acel Moore’s legacy.
And to students, she said: “Looking down my telescope over many years, as a person who’s already traveled a long way through the decades, I am honored to support you and applaud you as you go forth to take on the world.”