My journey in journalism began when I was a student at Beach High School when a teacher, Mrs. Ella P. Law, saw talent in me not just as a writer, but as a student leader who produced the Beach Beacon. She observed me helping fellow students with their stories and she appointed me as editor of the newspaper when I was in 12th grade. I have always loved reading. As a child my family subscribed to the morning and afternoon local newspapers, the local black weekly papers, Ebony and Jet magazines and one or two national black weekly newspapers. On the way to church each week we purchased a copy of the Sunday Atlanta Constitution, which I would devour while the women in the house were in the kitchen preparing Sunday dinner.
I have always been curious about things going on around me, whether at my school, in my neighborhood or in my community. I recall listening to neighbor ladies on my grandmother’s front porch on West 41st Street sharing their stories of hard life and labor as we endured the restrictive period of Jim Crow in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1966, I attended a three-week summer workshop for black high school teachers and a few black students at Savannah State College. That same year, I represented Beach High when I wrote articles that were published in Teen Times, a weekly section of the Savannah Evening Press.
At Spelman College, where I majored in English — because Spelman did not have a journalism program — I became editor of the Spelman Spotlight. I dared to believe I could become a newspaper journalist, even though I had no journalism roles models who were women or African Americans. My grandmother had urged me to take education courses in college as a fallback position. Nothing against teachers; we had teachers in my family, but teaching was not my passion. I didn’t follow my grandmother’s advice. Even though I assumed I would become a newspaper reporter, a summer internship at the Providence (RI) Evening Bulletin put me on a different path. I skipped the reporter track and became a copy editor because someone told me during that internship that “copy editors make more money” and “copy editors get to management faster than reporters.” I wanted to become a newsroom leader. My trajectory in journalism has given me many opportunities to travel domestically and abroad, to meet presidents, governors and members of Congress, to help train students at several universities, to train and mentor an untold number of young journalists and industry leaders, and to help usher in what I call journalism’s “technical revolution.” My journalism journey began in Savannah and ended in Savannah. I returned home in 2013 to lead the department that educates future mass communicators at Savannah State. Now I spend time writing a memoir, with hopes that I can inspire a future generation of women and journalists who dare to buck normal paths to success. I call my path and my book “Coming Full Circle.”
Wanda Lloyd is former associate professor and chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at Savannah State University and retired executive editor of the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, a Gannett newspaper. During her tenure as chair of the department at Savannah State, Lloyd’s leadership launched SSU Media High, a summer program for high school students, and she expanded the Southern Regional Press Institute to include an annual job fair, bringing recruiters from companies across the nation to identify students for internships and career opportunities. She inducted 10 people into the SRPI Hall of Fame in 2016.
Lloyd is currently writing a memoir, tentatively entitled “Coming Full Circle: From Jim Crow to Journalism Giant.”
As a long-time member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), she directed that organization’s landmark study “Muted Voices: Frustration and Fear in the Newsroom,” a survey of black journalists and newsroom managers. In 2007 she was inducted into NABJ’s Region III Hall of Fame.
She is a Diamond Life member of the Savannah Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., and she is a member of the Savannah (GA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.