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NABJ honors Bill Rhoden With Hall Of Fame Induction

Veteran sports columnist reflects on award, cherishes role as mentor to young journalists
with ESPN's The Undefeated

DETROIT – After graduating from Morgan State University in 1972, ESPN The Undefeated’s William C. “Bill” Rhoden’s first career option was to take his college football career to the National Football League.

His Plan B was to answer the instruction by his college journalism professor Frances Murphy, who at the time was longtime publisher of The Baltimore Afro-American – the flagship newspaper of The Afro-American chain and longest-running family-owned African-American newspaper in the country.

“If you don’t get drafted and if you don’t go to graduate school,” Rhoden recalls of Ms. Murphy’s advice, “take your black behind to The Afro-American and get to work.”

Rhoden did.

Today, at 2018 NABJ Convention and Career Fair in Detroit, Rhoden was inducted into the NABJ Hall of Fame. A crowning highlight to a career that spans more than four decades, punctuated by nearly 35 years with The New York Times – 26 as a recurring national sports columnist.

The NABJ Hall of Fame honors and celebrates Black journalists, authors, educators and activists who have made outstanding contributions to both their industry and the black community at large over the course of their careers.

In February 2017, Rhoden joined The Undefeated as a columnist and editor-at-large to live his passion of giving back to the profession and his community. In collaboration with the ESPN platform on the intersection of sports, race and culture, Rhoden founded the Rhoden Fellowship – a two-year program that identifies and trains aspiring African-American journalists from HBCUs.

In the video above, Rhoden reflects on his induction into the NABJ Hall of Fame.

Jon McLeod and Mac Nwulu produced the video.