Black History Month Profile: Gene Shelton

Gene Shelton, associate professor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Brian Smith

Gene Shelton, associate professor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Kara Taylor

During Black History Month, the Daily Kent Stater will feature a leader in Kent State’s African American community. These people will describe their involvement in the African American community on campus, how the community has changed over time and who will be its leading voices in the future.

Gene Shelton, associate professor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Lionel Ritchie and Marvin Gaye have all been behind Eugene Shelton in the media business.

Shelton, an associate professor of journalism at Kent State, worked on the media profiles of Motown’s famous stars when he moved to Los Angeles in 1975 and was hired as a publicist and writer for Motown Records.

At Motown, he wrote liner notes for Diana Ross’ Anthology and greatest hits albums by Diana Ross and The Supremes and The Four Tops.

He later moved on to work for Columbia records, Epic Records and CBS Records. At Epic, he worked as Michael Jackson’s press agent and wrote the bio for the album “Off the Wall.”

He left the music business in 1996 as a vice-president of media relations for Warner Bros. Records.

Shelton directed public relations and marketing campaigns for The Coca-Cola Company for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, McDonald’s Gospelfest, Coors Beer, Martin Luther King, Jr. Week for the Los Angeles Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and The Charles E. Drew University and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Shelton worked as a reporter for the Cleveland Press, and hosted a public affairs program on WKYC television.

Shelton, who graduated from Kent State University in 1972, was the 2013 recipient of the Diversity Trailblazer award.

Since you have started working at Kent State University, how have you seen the African American presence and involvement on this campus evolve?

“It is certainly different than it was when I was in undergraduate. I think the presence, activity and the voice of African American students was fueled by being in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. We were very active and always protesting. I don’t see the voices today being as strong. I see a lot of complacency. I do commend the students who put forth the effort to exercise their voice. This is a different generation, but I would like to see African American students take a greater leadership role, among all students. Do not limit your leadership ability, but before we can do that we must be united, and have a stronger voice.”

Who do you think the new and upcoming African American Leaders are on this campus?

I see Marvin Logan, he is involved in student media, and he is program director of Black United Students, or BUS, his presence is known on this campus.

Jason Washington, a fraternity brother and past President of BUS. Roslyn Porch, is the current President of BUS. I admire and respect what they do because they exercise the power of their voice and leadership.

How do you see the African American student body evolving on this campus in the future? (What changes do you want to see, and are you currently working on anything yourself?) 

“I want to see the more students come here prepared academically and socially. I want students to not be as complacent. As for myself I come to work every day, I owe everything I have to Kent State. I have earned two degrees from here, and what better way to give back than to teach the students here.”

Contact Kara Taylor at [email protected].