Renowned Journalist and Honorary Member Stresses Importance of Coverage Embracing Culture

Submitted by Chanta L. Jackson, Eastern Regional Journalist

Perspectives matter.

That’s what Abby Phillip, Honorary Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and CNN Senior Political Correspondent, told attendees — many of whom represented Delta chapters from across the Garden State — during Kean University’s Distinguished  Lecture Series on Feb. 28.

“We are all obviously influenced by who we are, what culture we came from,” Phillip said.  “It shapes what we see.”

Phillip, known to many as host of Inside Politics Sunday, exudes a unique style and unparalleled intellect that has enabled her to analyze situations and navigate courageous conversation in ways many can relate. She made the world stand up and take notice when she was tapped to moderate a Democratic presidential candidates in 2020. It’s no wonder scores of attendees jumped at the opportunity to interact with Phillip up close and personal. She did not disappoint.

The event was moderated by Monmouth County Alumnae Chapter’s own Darlene Repollet, who is also wife of Kean University President Dr. Lamont O. Repollet.

Monmouth County Alumnae Chapter Member Darlene Repollet interviews Honorary Member Abby Phillip. Photo by Chanta L. Jackson/Eastern Regional Journalist

On this Monday afternoon, Phillip discussed the work of journalists in the 21st century.

“Our job is not to coddle the rich, but to represent humanity,” she said, noting society should consider retiring the word “objective” when referencing journalism. “Journalists are not blank slates.”

As an immigrant whose parents are from Trinidad and Tobago,  Phillip has risen to the top in an industry dominated by white males.  That success is in part to her seizing  every opportunity to balance who she is with what she covers.

“I see things differently,” said Phillip, noting that black and brown journalists are asked to check their identities at the door, but their white counterparts are not.

Further dispelling the notion of objectivity, Phillip said journalists need to take sides. “We need to be on the side of democracy and humanity.”

In addition to talking politics, Phillip recalled what inspired her to pursue a career in journalism. She credits an alternative Spring Break trip to Mississippi, where she retraced steps of the Civil Rights Movement, as one of the most transformative moments in her life. “It showed me what it means to take a stand for humanity.”

For Phillip, that notion applies to Ukraine, where democracy is in a battle with autocracy.

“We shouldn’t give two sides that are not equal the same platform and playing field,” said Phillip, noting that Americans and the world should not take freedom for granted. “There is a difference between being neutral in the face of things that are wrong and being objective.”

In the early years of her career, Phillip worked as a print journalist for Politico and later at the Washington Post. She joined CNN in 2017. In November 2021 during the 55th National Convention, Phillip was inducted as an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority along with fellow journalist Joy-Ann Reid, singer Ledisi Young, former Navy Admiral Michelle J. Howard, Ambassador  Attallah Shabazz and former NFL female coach Collette V. Smith.

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