Hello only to those who believe that a Black woman Olympic athlete gets to decide for herself what is best for her health, mental and physical, and those who want all these armchair critics to stuff it. 

In the months before I launched MLK50, I got a Twitter DM from photographer Andrea Morales. She’d heard about the project and wanted to be a part.

She and I met at a since-closed coffee shop to collaborate and conspire and the rest is history. One of her images – appropriately from a Fight for $15 rally – topped one of our very first stories: The case for justice through journalism.  

Photo by Andrea Morales for MLK50

For more than four years, she’s nimbly juggled other freelance gigs and more recently, graduate school at the University of Mississippi, while still bringing an unwavering commitment to MLK50. 

It has been my dream to be able to work with Andrea full-time, and on Monday, that dream came true. It’s the responsibility of everyone on our team to be sure we do no harm as journalists –  but it’s Andrea who thinks most deeply about disrupting the traditionally extractive relationships between the media and those it covers. We are lucky to have her. 

From Andrea: “In this new full-time capacity, I’ll be able to focus intentionally and deliberately on how to contribute radical vision to the collaborative work required to produce MLK50. This is a dream come true.

“Having worked in journalism my entire adult life, it felt like the grinding exploitation and abuse that came with the job was immune from the measures of accountability we employ in our journalistic practice. Wendi has created a space that challenges all those notions. She is a mentor to me and I’m so honored by the trust she continues to offer.

“The industry relegates lens-based workers as after thoughts, a reality further amplified if you are a person of color, a woman or non-binary person. At MLK50, I don’t just have a seat at the table, but we’re examining the table’s value, side-by-side and everyday, in our fight to get free.” 

(See why we’re so lucky to have her? Professional swoon.)

Andrea’s hire would be exciting enough, but that’s not all.

MLK50’s Executive Editor Adrienne Johnson Martin

Earlier this week we also announced that veteran journalist Adrienne Johnson Martin will be MLK50’s executive editor starting Sept. 7. She’ll be the no. 2 in the newsroom, steering our editorial team. Her energy is infectious and her ideas perfectly aligned with our commitment to rattle the status quo while building deeper ties with our community.

I can’t say I set out to create a news organization where all of the leaders are women and all but one are women of color, but I did want to create the newsroom I always wanted to work in, so… Yeah.

We’re not done hiring, so if you know (or are) someone who wants to help us commit more good trouble on the editorial side (reporter, photographer, editor or social media producer) or on the business side (development director, fundraising specialist or operations manager), email hr@mlk50.com

This story is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power and policy in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today. MLK50 is also supported by these generous donors.

Got a story idea, a tip or feedback? Send an email to info@mlk50.com.