Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Mentors in Journalism: Alden Poole and Tim Russert

IFILL: My first college journalism professor, a guy by the name of Alden Poole, at Simmons College in Boston, he had grown up as a newspaperman. In fact, at the newspaper where I’d gotten that note, he’d worked there. And he would tell stories in class about newspapering which I just loved, but he also saw possibilities in me even though — he’ll tell you now — my first classes were not great. There were C's that were a score in my first journalism classes, but that didn’t make him look at me and say, “Oh, she’ll never work.” He assumed there were possibilities for me. He saw it in me. And didn’t say so. Didn’t come and praise me or make me his pet in any way and, in fact, it was only years later that I looked back and saw that and was able to realize that when people look at you and say, “Oh sure, you can do that,” that makes you think, "Oh, sure, I can do that." It begins to play away some of the self-doubt that we automatically have, especially as women about what’s possible, about what’s expected of us, and along the way, and I seldom realized at the time, I kept encountering people —Tim Russert at NBC News just said, “Oh, you can do TV.” I didn’t know that. I didn’t expect it. I didn’t aim for it, but because he expected it of me, I thought, "Well, maybe I can." And along the way, you keep meeting people like that and it makes you who you are.