April Ryan pays tribute to Black women in new book: ‘It’s a love letter’
'Black Women Will Save the World' will be released next year by Ryan and highlights the role Black women play in leadership, resilience and empowerment
April D. Ryan is one of the community’s most celebrated journalists, who has covered five presidential administrations and is still at the forefront of the news decades into her award-winning career. She’s been a White House correspondent for 24 years, her trademark grit and grace particularly on display as former President Donald Trump weaponized his bully pulpit against the veteran reporter.
It’s a time she describes as traumatizing and the worst experience of her life, but better days have since come to pass.
Ryan is now the White House Correspondent and Washington Bureau Chief for theGrio. It’s also been announced that Ryan will be publishing her fourth book, Black Women Will Save The World, which will be released early next year by Amistad, a division of HarperCollins.
TheGrio spoke with the Morgan State alum as she previews the anticipated tome in the Q&A below.
(Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.)
TG: How did this book come about, Black women will save the world?
AR: How did the book come about? Because I’m the daughter of a Black woman. I’m the granddaughter of Black women who, against all odds, who are agrarians on both sides of my family, had to make it work.
I come from a family that really, on my mother’s side, they believed in education and my grandmother used to always say get your education because no one can take it away. She was not educated. She was a farmer’s wife. She raised 14 of her own children and then some other people’s kids.
They died seeing me in the White House. My mother saw me in the White House before she died. My father saw me in the White House before he died and understanding these people embedded in me the struggles of Black America and how women have always overcome and fix things.
Women in my family have always been the fixers and fixing things. Women in the outer community have always been the fixers, and it’s time for women to get the love that they deserve. This is a love letter to Black women saying: I see you, I respect you, I thank you.
TG: Malcolm X said that Black women are the most disrespected people in the world. How did it come to come to pass that saving the world got placed on our shoulders?
AR: It’s like Fannie Lou Hamer said: ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.’ So we go out and act. We go out and we get involved with what people bring us. We get involved to help. It’s not about power. It’s about fixing things.
To think about the time we were brought to this country, we had to stand alone and solve it because they didn’t want our men supporting us. When we came here, our men were emasculated. We were the ones, we had to solve everything.
From the moment there was the issue, we were made to pick their cotton and cut down their sugar cane.
TG: What does saving the world look like in 2021, in your opinion? How do we save in terms of leadership, empowerment and resilience?
AR: It looks like [Rep.] Ayanna Pressley. It looks like the great [Rep.] Maxine Waters. It looks like Stacey Abrams.
It looks like the mother in her house, making ends meet, in the midst of COVID, where she lost the job and keep a smile on her face. It looks like that woman who walked away from the office job to help her child with virtual learning, which she doesn’t know the old math nor the new math.
It looks like a woman who overcomes every day keeps a smile on her face to make it work for her next generation. It looks like those who pour into people, the women who pour into people just to keep going when we’re down.
It looks like the everyday woman who had to rise up and save us all.
TG: It also looks like April Ryan. You know what? Where does the strength come from? You’ve been through a lot the past four years, more than you’ve had to endure.
AR: You’re getting me all teary-eyed. The strength comes from my two daughters, who are my inspiration. All they have really is me and I have to put forth my best to make them the best that they can be. You always want each generation to be better than you, and I’ve sacrificed so that they can be great.
My mother did the same for me, and I want them to pay it forward and do the same for their children.
I do it for my kids. I do it for my neighbor’s kids. I do it for the kids at their school and the kids at the city schools that don’t have the Internet.
I do it for those children who need help in every way, who are special education kids, have different learning styles who call the schools, want to give them Ritalin in the normal way or put them in a class where they won’t do it for the underserved, because I am one of them. I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon.
I grew up from a farming family in Maryland and North Carolina and didn’t have anything.
TG: You’ve been a White House correspondent for 24 years and you’re the author of three books. You were renowned. You have the universal respect of so many journalists. Did you expect to have this kind of longevity that you would now on your fourth book?
AR: Never, never, never, never, never, ever, never. I never expected it. Never expected it.
TG: How does it feel to be getting your flowers?
I just stay humble and keep doing the work. I’m humbled. I’m thankful that I’m here to tell the story. You just really don’t know.
It’s humbling and I thank God that people support me.
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