First Edition of Black Student Magazine Unveiled

A one-of-a-kind student magazine recently made its debut! In time for Black History Month, the Journalistic Learning Initiative, in partnership with Lane Education Service District, unveiled the first edition of Black Student Magazine in Lane County.

JLI and Lane ESD launched the Black Student Magazine project in the fall of 2020 as a virtual after-school digital learning program to support academic achievement for students of color under Oregon’s Student Success Act (HB3427) and the African American/Black Student Success Plan (HB2016). Middle and high school students in Lane County learned how to research and interview and gained writing, photography, and online publication skills that they can use in any field.

“Launching Black Student Magazine fulfills our commitment to amplifying the voices of students who often go unheard,” said JLI Executive Director/Co-founder Ed Madison, Ph.D. “Students have a lot to add to our nation’s discourse about equality and social justice, and media must portray diverse voices.”

Research confirms that students who engage in journalistic storytelling earn better grades, become stronger writers, and are more prepared to excel professionally than their peers who do not take journalism. Journalistic learning also builds character, strengthens critical thinking, and supports competency.

“Our students thrive when learning is connected to their own lived experiences, they see themselves reflected in the curriculum, and they are given opportunities to see the real-life application of what we teach in our classrooms,” said Lane ESD School Improvement Executive Director Carlos Sequeira, Ed.D. “The Black Student Magazine project with our partner JLI offered a unique experience, particularly during Covid-19 when many of our students were quarantined at home and needed positive and engaging after-school opportunities.

“Seeing the looks on our students’ faces when they first saw the published magazine said it all.”

Students said the after-school experience with mentors of color—particularly during the pandemic when they were schooling from home—was inspiring.

“There’s not much diversity [in Eugene], so this was a little different,” said Marley, a student participant. “Everyone in the Zoom meetings was all Black people, and we’re not used to that in school. It was fun having a little community, like a family.”

Anna, a peer, agreed. “It was meaningful to have Black students [in the project]. It makes me feel more involved, and happy especially because we live in this community without many African American people. It’s better this way so we can all interact. I also felt more comfortable in reaching out for help when I needed it.”

The full-color, 28-page magazine was distributed to select local businesses and throughout the Eugene-Springfield community. It can also be accessed online at

Noted Madison: “This publication not only heralds voice diversity but marks the beginning of an expansion effort that will bring the Black Student Magazine project to other communities.”

The Black Student Magazine project was supported by grants from the Oregon Cultural Trust and the Autzen Foundation. Sponsors included Bi-Mart, Umpqua Bank, Bigfoot Beverages, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications, and PeaceHealth.

The project—and all of JLI’s work—is informed by the project-based teaching philosophies of acclaimed educator Esther Wojcicki who, with philanthropist Tara Guber, co-founded JLI with Madison. Wojcicki serves on JLI’s board. JLI is also thankful to Nancy and Dave Petrone, its distinguished benefactors, for their continued support.

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