A mother’s refrain, powerfully, yet quietly spoken while peering down at the archival record of a long lost ancestor. This moment, while on assignment to her homeland of Barbados would serve to solidify what Joanne Griffith knew all along; there is power in the stories of all people.
An award winning broadcaster, journalist and writer, Griffith’s work is fueled by the oxygen of compelling storytelling and truth. Never one to follow the obvious angle on stories that make up the media menu, Joanne has spent almost two decades uncovering the real gems behind the headlines — what’s left unsaid and often ignored.
This commitment to real people and highlighting the full spectrum of the human experience has led to Joanne’s work being featured in reports, documentaries, special investigations and written works for the British Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio in Los Angeles and the Pacifica Radio Archives and Network. From the impact of voting rights in the United States and lack of healthcare options in poorer communities to the legacy of slavery in the Caribbean, the contribution of immigrants to the United Kingdom and the politics of food and power in southern Africa.
Yet Joanne’s work is about more than what you see and hear through your TV screen or radio. At the age of 25, Joanne was headhunted to lead BBC London’s multimedia diversity project, the youngest diversity leader in the corporation at the time. In a city of over eight million people speaking over three hundred languages, Joanne built key contacts with the capital’s myriad communities, developed and implemented staff training programs, created a dynamic internship initiative and led a creative team to craft an online guide to London’s under represented patrons. BBC London is now a true representation of the area it serves, from the staff employed to the stories covered.
Today, Joanne’s journalistic journey has made a pit-stop in Los Angeles, California where she hosts a weekly history show on BBC Radio 5 Live drawing on audio from the historic Pacifica Radio Archives. Since 2007, Joanne has crafted programs from the worlds of politics, sport, the arts and beyond, including Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Paul Robeson, Sarah Vaughn, Fela Kuti, Woody Guthrie, Bobby Kennedy, Cesar Chavez, Jesse Owens, past presidents and so many others.
In 2012, Joanne’s unique interview, research and storytelling skills were put to use in her first book ‘Redefining Black Power: Reflections on the State of Black America’ published by City Lights Books. As with many of her projects, the book is not conventional. A multimedia work spanning three years, ‘Redefining Black Power’ draws heavily on voices from across black America in the ‘Age of Obama’. This includes three documentaries from a series of roundtable discussions in the months after the 2008 election, conversations with African American thought leaders in the middle years of the Obama Administration and ongoing open forum discussions nationwide which have featured on C-Span’s Book TV, Democracy Now and other print and radio outlets in the U.S. and U.K.
Described as a generous moderator and interviewer, Joanne acts as a conduit of information and dialog, listening loudly and asking questions with the sole purpose of bringing the true issues to light. She’s currently working on her second non-fiction book project.
In her spare time, Joanne loves to travel with her husband and has a passion for giraffes, goats and discovering new audio creations online.
Praise for Joanne Griffith and Redefining Black Power
“Joanne Griffith is a superb journalist! She writes, speaks, and interviews with great skill, sincerity, and sensitivity to those she covers. Her writings and insights are a lesson to all. She reflects President Obama’s spirited call of ‘fired up, ready to go!’”
– Connie Lawn, Senior White House Correspondent (since 1968)
“Joanne Griffth’s journalism gets to the story behind the story. President Obama, are you hearing me?”
– Dotun Adebayo; Broadcaster and Columnist with the Voice Newspaper(UK)
“Joanne Griffith is a journalist who brings a wealth of vision, a global world view, a traveler’s spirit for curiosity, meticulous detail and a talent for excellence to her work. Through her powerful and informative projects, Joanne maintains persistently high standards and reminds us of the power of great journalism to offer fresh insight, wrap language in a unique world view and open our eyes to fresh possibility.”
– Esther Armah, host ‘Wake Up Call’, WBAI, New York
“Griffith’s stellar introduction places Obama’s rise in the historical context of previous generations’ struggles for equality and a seat at the table of American power, recounting the emotional heft she and other African-Americans felt at Obama’s victory. The interviews that follow are never less than fascinating; they are lively, engaging give-and-takes on the Civil Rights Movement, poverty and under-employment in America and on Obama’s place in history.” Shelf Awareness
“This slim volume packs a punch as it unpacks uncomfortable truths and the provocative voices here do not mince words.” Publishers Weekly
“Griffith provides context for each excerpted interview, adding to the texture of the analysis of changing perspectives on contemporary black power.” Booklist