Coming Full Circle

From Jim Crow to Journalism

Wanda Smalls Lloyd

Foreword by Tina McElroy Ansa

Coming Full Circle

From Jim Crow to Journalism

Wanda Smalls Lloyd

Foreword by Tina McElroy Ansa

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  • Reviews

Coming Full Circle: From Jim Crow to Journalism is the memoir of an African American woman who grew up privileged and educated in the segregated culture of the American South before and during the twentieth-century civil rights movement. Despite laws that restricted her housing, education, voting rights, and virtually every other aspect of life, Wanda Smalls Lloyd grew up to become one of the nation's highest-ranking newspaper journalists, and among the first African American women to be the top editor of a major newspaper.

Coming Full Circle is a self-reflective exploration of the author's life journey-from growing up in coastal Savannah, Georgia, to editing roles at seven daily newspapers, and finally back to Savannah to make a difference in her childhood community. Her path was shaped not only by the segregated social, community, and educational systems, but also by religious and home training, a strong cultural foundation, and early leadership opportunities.

That Southern upbringing produced an adult woman who realized her professional dream of working for daily newspapers and rose to become an editor at the Washington Post and a senior editor at USA Today before returning South as the executive editor of the Montgomery Advertiser. Along the way, she was an advocate and an example for how diversity helped newsrooms become reflections of accuracy for their audience. Lloyd's memoir opens a window on the intersection of race, gender, and culture in professional journalism. How she excelled in a profession where high-ranking African American women were rare is a reminder for older readers and an inspiring story for a younger generation.

Here is a story of family, discovery, and personal achievement from a time when this nation's racial divide threatened to deny the benefits of each to professional black women. Coming Full Circle: From Jim Crow to Journalism is a good read, full of life lessons from one of this nation's most successful black female journalists and details of the route she took to the pinnacle of her profession.

—DeWayne Wickham, dean and professor of journalism at Morgan State University, former columnist, USA Today

Coming Full Circle is renowned editor and author Wanda Lloyd's story of the relatives and friends who helped shape her during her formative years, as well as the story of those of us who benefited from her hiring, mentorship, and leadership practices. In garnering the courage to follow her dreams and pursue a career that seemed out of reach due to racial and gender barriers, she helped many others see themselves in those roles, and gave us hope that our dreams could come full circle, too. Brava to Lloyd for penning a memoir that vividly recounts how the sophisticated Southern upbringing of one African American young lady helped shape the course of excellence and diversity in journalism across this nation for several decades.

—Stacy Hawkins Adams, author and journalist

In an era when journalists are often maligned for truth-telling, Coming Full Circle reveals how one woman's inspirational journey was impacted by race, class, and gender, and yet provided the impetus for a stellar career.

—Barbara Bealor Hines, Professor Emerita-Journalism, Howard University

History bears the tracks of excellent black journalists and media leaders who achieved, but those forebears didn't write memoirs to inform, guide, and inspire others. I'm so glad Wanda Lloyd wrote her powerful story.

—Karen B. Dunlap, president emerita, The Poynter Institute

Coming Full Circle is a blueprint for young women of any color wanting to find out how to succeed in the business of newspapers and how to succeed in life. Wanda Lloyd achieved both with intelligence, hard work, and gravitas.

—Carole Simpson, former anchor and national correspondent, ABC News

Wanda Lloyd is a consummate storyteller who has always lived a life of purpose devoted to diversity and community. Her memoir is a rich, inspiring tale about race and gender in twenty-first-century America.

—Karen Jurgensen, editor (retired), USA Today

Wanda Lloyd's memoir is a down-memory-lane retrospective that walks us through the harrowing times of separate but not equal 'racial brokenness.' Coming Full Circle displays Lloyd's talents as a gifted journalist.

—Mary Schmidt Campbell, president, Spelman College

This memoir will inspire young people with big dreams for their own paths in life.

—Cheryl D. Dozier, president (retired), Savannah State University

This memoir proves that a successful leader can come from humble beginnings, even beginnings that legally restricted the circumstances of someone who wanted merely to work in a newsroom.

—Richard Prince, columnist, Journal-isms.com

A pioneering newspaper editor illuminates the importance of racial diversity in newsrooms and the difficulties of achieving that diversity, especially for black women. In a memoir that runs from her birth in 1949 to 2019, Wanda Lloyd offers hundreds of anecdotes and scenarios about how she managed to ascend to the top spots at major newspapers in an industry dominated by white males. Though Lloyd is not always self-effacing about her accomplishments, it's not bragging if you have done it-and she has done a lot. Inspiring reading for aspiring journalists and students of civil rights.

—Kirkus Reviews

Wanda Lloyd's writing is direct, like the professional journalist she is. Slights, indignities, and prejudices are described with the same candor that recognizes her journalistic triumphs recording civil rights history and everyday breaking news. She's a mom and a mentor who writes and lives with generosity and grace.

—Rexanna Keller Lester, retired executive editor, Savannah Morning News

An inherently fascinating, candidly informative, and ultimately inspiring life story, Coming Full Circle: From Jim Crow to Journalism is an exceptionally well-written and unreservedly recommended addition to library and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

—Midwest Book Review

Coming Full Circle is an important work about journalism, about courage and overcoming challenges, and about building diversity and bringing others along.

—Phil Currie, retired senior vice president of news, Gannett

About the Author/Editor

WANDA SMALLS LLOYD parlayed her passion for storytelling when she transitioned from journalism to writing non-fiction. A newspaper editor for more than four decades, she now writes from her home in Savannah, Georgia, where she grew up in the 1950s and 1960s and left for college and career. In 2013, her award-winning work as an editor at seven daily newspapers brought her full circle back to Savannah as a professor. Lloyd, co-editor of The Edge of Change: Women in the 21st Century Press, retired from daily journalism after serving more than eight years as executive editor of the Montgomery Advertiser, the daily newspaper in Alabama's capital city. She has also been an editor at The Washington Post, USA Today, the Miami Herald, the Atlanta Journal, the Greenville (SC) News and the Providence Evening Bulletin. She was the founding executive director of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Most recently she was associate professor and chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at Savannah State University. At home when she is not writing, Lloyd enjoys volunteering with service organizations, gardening and doting on her family - her husband, Willie, their daughter, Shelby who lives in Florida, and Bella, the family's mini pinscher. Spelman College, Lloyd's alma mater, awarded her an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2016. She was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists' Hall of Fame in 2019.