Journalism Alumnus Earns Emmy Award

Posted on: March 11, 2014

Emmy_TommyLawson-webA documentary about African Americans in Tennessee during the Civil War earned alumnus Clarence Ball an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

"Looking Over Jordan: African Americans and the War," chronicles the African American experience in the South before, during and after the war. It received an Emmy for outstanding achievement in the category of Historical/Cultural Program for the Midsouth region, which encompasses Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama.

Ball, who earned his master's degree in journalism from MSU in May 2011, was an associate producer on the project. He attributes much of his success to the education he received at MSU.

"The faculty in the J-School were so receptive to different cultural ideas and perspectives," Ball said. "I was able to find my journalistic voice with the help of some key MSU scholars. Dr. (Manuel) Chavez, Dr. (Geri) Zeldes and Professor (Troy) Hale really cultivated my mind and informed me that being a successful journalist with an unapologetic black perspective was an achievable task. The courses they taught were not only rigorous but allowed for creative license, which ultimately helped me find my voice.

"I was hired for my experience in documentary work that I gained at Michigan State University. It was my thesis documentary that secured me the job."

In his interview for the "Looking Over Jordan" job, Ball said he talked about his experiences at MSU, the rigors of the curriculum and his thesis, which consisted of a 50-60-page research paper and 45-minute documentary on the difficulty students of color face at predominately white colleges from both an academic and cultural perspective. Impressed by this work, Ball was hired as an associate producer.

Looking Over Jordan"Looking Over Jordan: African Americans and the War" was produced in conjunction with Nashville Public Television. It covers the rise of slavery between 1790 and 1860, role of religion and music in the slave narrative, influx of freed black slaves into the Union army, heroics at the Battle of Nashville, both Confiscation Acts, and the creation of the Bureau of Freedman, Refugees and Abandoned Land to aid freed slaves in the early Reconstruction era.

The documentary aired in February 2013 on WNPT, Nashville's PBS affiliate, in recognition of Black History Month. Ball received his Emmy on Jan. 25 at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Ball is a lecturer and clinical instructor at the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University's Rose Hill Campus in the Bronx. He teaches undergraduate business communications classes. He also works as a private/professional speech coach.

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