April Ryan, Washington, D.C., Bureau chief for theGrio and CNN analyst, reached a historic milestone this year when she became the longest-serving Black female White House correspondent. But after 25 years covering five presidencies, one exchange with then-President Trump in November 2018 motivated her to change the narrative for all Black women. “[It] was one of the ugliest moments I have ever seen or felt in my life,” she told “Morning Joe” hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski Tuesday.
Ryan, who was the White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks at the time, recalled how during a press conference she shouted an off-mic question about voter suppression, which she says Trump acknowledged, and she continued. He then told her repeatedly to “sit down” and later called her a “loser” and “nasty.” “That is a moment that really sticks with me and left residue,” Ryan recounted. “No person should be treated that way by anyone.” But the veteran journalist used that experience to show women of color the power of resilience in her new book, “Black Women Will Save the World: An Anthem.”
“I wrote this book because a couple of years ago, many Black women were vilified,” she added. “And the only way you change the narrative is by writing your own story and telling the truth.”
In the book, Ryan describes the challenges she faced as a single mother and one of the only Black women in the D.C. press corps. She also features interviews other prominent women of color – including Vice President Kamala Harris, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Stacey Abrams, Keisha Lance Bottoms – on their ability to overcome and thrive amid a system designed to keep them out. “[They] keep going no matter what because a community needs, a school needs, a church house needs, the home needs us,” she said.
For Ryan, it’s women like Abrams who exemplify the sheer will to keep going. “[Abrams] is fighting for her political life in Georgia right now … That’s one of the reasons why the world is watching her, because she did the unthinkable,” she said. “That’s what a lot of black women do – the unthinkable – and we make it seem like it’s no big deal because we do it with grace and we’ve been doing it since the inception of Black women in this nation.”