February 8, 2022

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

CNN’s Gwen Sommers Redwine to Speak During VSU’s Black History Month Celebration

Gwen Sommers Redwine

Screenshots from Gwen Sommers Redwine's video archives on YouTube.



VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections presents Breaking News: The Experiences of the First African American Female Headline News Anchor on CNN at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 17, in the Odum Library Auditorium.

Gwen Sommers Redwine, journalist and activist, will share her experience working for CNN in the 1980s and breaking — while alone on the anchor desk — the story of the Beirut barracks bombings in 1983, the first major loss of American service members since the Vietnam War. She was the first female, black or white, to break such a major news story on CNN.

Redwine’s presentation will include details about the creation of her award-winning documentary “1980s: Blacks in America” and include video from a variety of sources, allowing attendees to see dramatic moments from television news history. Her discussion will highlight the challenges of working in the white male-dominated news world.

Deborah Davis, professor and director of VSU Archives and Special Collections, said, “Ms. Redwine is a dynamic speaker with a lifetime of public experiences to share. Her career has ranged from print, radio, and television journalism to political consulting, marketing, and public relations.”

Now retired, Redwine devotes her time and talent to serving as an activist for African American historic preservation, which includes founding the Valdosta Black Heritage Group, an organization dedicated to restoring and preserving black heritage, history, and culture.

Born and raised in Valdosta, Redwine was 14 years old when she accepted her first newspaper job with the Southwest Georgia Enterprise in her hometown. Her first on-air radio experience was with WVLD. She wrote for The Valdosta Daily Times and landed news reporter roles with WAOK and Turner Broadcasting System in Atlanta. In 1981 she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater, radio, and television from Valdosta State College.

“It’s a long way from Valdosta State College to CNN, but she developed a solid background in all types of journalism along the way,” Davis shared.

During a 2018 interview with The Valdosta Daily Times, Redwine said, “VSC is my alma mater, and it is where I received the inspiration and the skills that I needed to become a journalist of note.”

Redwine donated her extensive collection of journalism papers and video to VSU Archives and Special Collections. Her work will forever serve as a “rich source of research for many areas, from journalism to mass media to women’s studies to local history,” Davis said.

Admission to Breaking News: The Experiences of the First African American Female Headline News Anchor on CNN is free of charge and open to the public. Hors d’oeuvres will be served. This event is part of VSU’s celebration of Black History Month.

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