Attending a Historically Black College and University is one of the most unique experiences that those within the Black community can share. It is an opportunity to aspire for greatness and be involved in a kinship that will outlast one's collegiate journey. EBONY 2022 Power 100 awardee Geoff Bennett, newly appointed co-anchor of PBS NewsHour, is all too familiar with the benefits of an HBCU. A graduate of Morehouse College, Bennett decided to pay forward the privileges granted to him by establishing a new scholarship for English and journalism majors at his alma mater.
Geoff Bennett spoke with EBONY about the scholarship and his recent recognition for his exceptional work.
EBONY: Kudos on your newest appointment with PBS News Hour. How does it feel to step into such a tremendous legacy with PBS?
Geoff Bennett: I'm honored to be entrusted with this responsibility in partnering with Amna Nawaz, and building on the rich legacy of this storied institution. PBS NewsHour has been around for nearly 50 years and what makes it special is that it's a news program with a mission. It's a real gift to get to partner with such a stellar group of journalists each day in pursuit of a shared mission which is providing reliable reporting, solid storytelling and sharp analysis of the most important issues of the day. It's why the NewsHour is television's most trusted and respected news program. I am honored to have a hand in writing the program's next chapter.
You are a proud graduate of the illustrious Morehouse College. In what ways has your experience attending an HBCU shaped you?
Attending Morehouse changed my life. As an English major and as editor-in-chief of its campus newspaper, I was inspired by the career and the cultural contributions of the late Lerone Bennett Jr., a Morehouse man, longtime executive editor of EBONY magazine and an exceptional historian. So my focus in journalism was really sort of crafted by reading all of the books that he wrote. I had a chance to meet him and get his feedback on the campus newspaper. Morehouse is the only institution in the world dedicated to the education and overall success of Black men and having that educational experience was unparalleled. I rely on that Brotherhood to this day. For me, it's meant everything.
It's one thing to walk through that door but you have to make sure that door stays open and help other people walk through it after you.Geoff Bennett
Giving back to the entities that poured into us is of the utmost importance. What made you want to launch this scholarship initiative now?
I feel like a well informed society is a prerequisite for a functioning democracy. That is why journalism is so important. It's vital for news organizations to look like the communities they serve. We need more Black journalists. We need more Black men who are committed to reporting political news, hard news, and who are in this work of being dedicated truth tellers and having a fidelity to the facts. There needs to be more of us doing this work. Starting this scholarship for English majors and for journalism majors at Morehouse is my way of trying to pay it forward. I was inspired by people like Max Robinson, the first Black man to anchor a network news broadcast, Bernard Shaw, Bryant Gumbel, Ed Bradley and Lester Holt. Those are the folks who paved the way for me and my peers who are doing this work now. I feel like it's incumbent upon me to do so and certainly it's one of the things I learned at Morehouse. It's one thing to walk through that door but you have to make sure that door stays open and help other people walk through it after you.
You are also a 2022 EBONY Power 100 awardee. What was your experience like attending the gala and being recognized for your work?
It's a great honor to see achievement across so many different fields of endeavor and to be celebrated by an institution like EBONY. All of us have an EBONY story. I grew up reading EBONY in the barber shop and at my grandparents' house. To now be established in my career, have that sort of recognition and see so many people across arts, entertainment, social justice, media and business is phenomenal. It was a real gift to be a part of that so I'm deeply grateful.
How can Morehouse students who are interested apply for the scholarship?
They should go to the Office of Financial Aid. Any student who is an English or journalism major with a financial need, simply needs to check in with the Office of Financial Aid and and inquire about the scholarship. That's all.