Before RABJ, there was

the Rochester Black Media Association (RBMA)

Some of the RBMA members included Anita Sims Johnson, Ron Thomas, George Anderson, James and Carolyne Scott Blount, Barbara Rogers Dennis, Wyoma Best (who RABJ now offers a scholarship honoring her) and Rochelle Brown. 

The Rochester Black Media Association

The organization founded in 1982 then disbanded and later became RABJ

Decades before the Rochester Association of Black Journalists (RABJ) came into being, there was the Rochester Black Media Association. 

The organization's members included reporters from both the then-Rochester Times Union afternoon newspaper and the Democrat & Chronicle morning newspaper. It also included black journalists who worked for the local television stations associated with the major networks.

RBMA put on black film festivals at the George Eastman House, including a "She's Gotta Have It" event in 1986 at the Little Theater, the NABJ regional conference in 1988, and annual scholarship dinners.

RBMA was part of the annual UNCF telethon. Members sponsored a talk with Howard Simons, former managing editor of the Washington Post and then Nieman Foundation curator, along with Writers and Books. 

It was a time that black-Jewish relations were in the news, and so it made sense for our black organization to pair with a Jewish author who collected Jewish first-person stories.


RBMA was also successful in making WHAM change its policy when identifying suspects of crimes as black when the relevancy of the suspect's race was not apparent.