Every year, Howard Homecoming season brings celebrity appearances and a slew of alumni to its campus.
On Thursday, Oct. 25, the Howard University Bookstore hosted a talk with the Breakfast Club cohost Charlamagne Tha God and Angela Rye on breaking free from fears and anxiety, as part of of Charlamagne’s #ShookOnes book tour. However, campus media was denied access to the event for failure to show a valid receipt of purchase of the book.
However, representatives from two news organizations were granted access to the event and interviews with Charlamagne. Prior to the event, I received no response to my request for press access.
His latest book, “Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me,” addresses the Breakfast Club host’s struggles with anxiety and how he’s working through those struggles with help from mentors, show guests, and therapy.
Store manager Kirk Thomas confirmed that one of the news organizations granted access was The Hill, a publication founded by the late Jerry Finkelstein, that describes its reporting as “nonpartisan reporting on the inner workings of Congress and the nexus of politics and business.”
The Hill’s prior coverage of Howard University has been of prominent political speakers at the University, like President Barack Obama at the 2016 commencement ceremony, and of the spring 2018 sit-in that made national headlines.
Campus media stakeholders feel that their denial was a disservice to the student body.
“Bringing events and celebrities to the Howard University campus for the sake of profit and publicity while simultaneously shutting out the student voice of that campus is inherently wrong. It not only stifles the work of dedicated student reporters, but it also denies information to the community they serve,” said Jaylin Paschal, editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, The Hilltop.
Attendees like Latoya Hogg, a PhD student in Howard’s school of Social Work, however, saw the restriction of access to people who had bought the book as a positive.
“A lot of people say Charlamagne’s coming to my school and I’m just here to get a picture. For them to say you need to purchase the book, that’s not only making you become more aware, but also you would want to go somewhere knowing what they’re going to talk about.”
Hogg found the talk relatable and enjoyable. “‘It is great to see a person of color and someone of the stature of Charlamagne really open up and talk about mental health and want to bring it to the forefront and not let it be as stigmatized as it has been, especially for the next generation of social movers,” she said.
A representative for Charlamagne was not available for comment.