Talibah Chikwendu

Executive Editor, The Afro-American

Balimore, Md.

[MD-E 0201]

When I was working at my very first actual official reporting job [at] a daily. I had run across a woman who said her mother was having difficulty with getting her medical insurance to pay for something. And she said – and I – she told me her story, and I wasn’t sure it was a story. But I went and interviewed her mother. And when I heard – talked to her mother – talked more to the family and started to really make some calls – it really was a story. And so I told her story.

The lady died now about five years ago, but to this day – I mean that story was – wow – that happened 15 years ago – to this day if that daughter sees me in the supermarket she will thank me for telling her mother’s story. She will – if she’s got her kids [she will say,] “Remember, this was the lady who came.” Because I made a difference for them.

I don’t think the insurance company really resolved the issue the way they wanted, but they felt like there was a complete airing and that other people saw that there was an issue. And it helped them give a voice to get just a little more from the insurance company than they were getting.

And still – to this day – she still appreciates that. So I would guess that this was the first time I realized that I can change things by changing – by telling other people’s stories. And that became really important for me.