Journalism and Mass Communication

Michael C. Lewis

Eugene Shelton, journalism instructor, will be teaching a new class that combines Pan-African studies with Journalism and Mass Communication.

Credit: Andrew popik

Imagine being taught by an instructor who worked with music industry legends like Ray Charles and Lionel Ritchie, to The Supremes and Snoop Dog.

Eugene Shelton, a former executive with Warner Bros., and other record companies, will teach a new course this fall titled African-American Media: The Power and the Purpose.

“(The class) is about the power of the media­ — the things that mobilized people and brought them together at a time when they needed to be,” Shelton said.

“I teach from first-hand experience. I understand what goes on behind television. I can talk about story construction with writers.”

Shelton’s experience speaks for itself.

Shelton worked as a television show host and newspaper reporter. He wrote for a teen magazine, Gene’s Hollywood Hotline, when he worked in Los Angeles.

He used to book clients for “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Tonight Show” and Black Entertainment Television. When he worked as a press agent, he took pictures of some of his clients, including Miles Davis, Prince, Stevie Wonder and Ice-T.

“When I teach about game shows, I put in a tape,” Shelton said. “There I am, a contestant on ‘Joker’s Wild.’ I was on for five days in the late ‘70s.”

Newspapers have always had a strong voice in America, but Shelton said they were instrumental in educating society about abolitionism, lynching mobs and other horrors of the South. Newspapers captured the reality of the South, he said.

“Lynchings used to be picnic time,” Shelton said. “People dressed up for them. They were celebrations. I’ll bring in pictures of lynchings for students.”

Shelton, who graduated from Kent State in 1972, said he took part in the student protest in 1968. One evening that winter, about 250 African-Americans walked off the campus in protest of the administration’s handling of a student demonstration. Black United Students formed in November 1968 as a result of those events.

“I hope students gain the knowledge and intelligence to find out about the things they didn’t know before,” Shelton said. “I want them to know about the history of mass communication, the role they play and where we are today — from a social, economical and cultural standpoint.”

E. Timothy Moore, associate dean of Arts and Sciences and longtime friend, said Shelton was a “recognized presence” and an “impressive leader” when they met in 1969.

“He became a mentor for all the students he came in contact with,” Moore said.

The class is open to all students but is designed for African-Americans. It will join the Pan-African Studies with Journalism and Mass Communication — the first class of its kind.

Contact ethnic affairs reporter Michael C. Lewis at [email protected].