There's only a handful of Black women in the political commentator game and one that you should definitely get to know is Abby Phillip. At 31, the Virginia native is among the youngest White House correspondents but she isn't new to this, she's true to this. And she's had previous reporting positions at Politico, ABC News, The Washington Post and now CNN to prove it. However, two very visible moments of her journalistic career happened only within the past year.
Many began to take notice of Abby last fall. During a presidential briefing, she asked Donald Trump a question and he responded that her question was "stupid," which the Harvard grad is far. And the night before Joe Biden and Kamala Harris filled the 46th slot for President and Vice President of the United States, the nation was watching Abby when she boldly proclaimed live on TV:
"Not only would Black women put Joe Biden in the White House but they would also put a Black woman in the White House, as well. And while Donald Trump's political career began with the racist birther lie, it may very well end with a Black woman in the White House. Black women did that."
Abby's comment landed in publications like The New York Times and her social media following quadrupled. Minister Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, shared her appreciation with a tweet of Abby's headshot. If a full circle moment had a face, this is what it would look like.
Last month, Abby sat for an interview with The Bakari Sellers Podcast where she talked about everything from her college experience to her future writing goals. And get this, she didn't even plan for an on-air position; in fact, she tried TV with ABC News, didn't like it and accepted a position with The Washington Post. But as life has it, it brings you right back to where you're supposed to be.
Here are five interesting facts to know about Abby:
Abby’s initial career goal was in medicine or law.
"I was going to be a doctor. And if that didn't work out, I was probably going to be a lawyer."
It turned out chemistry wasn't her ministry. She told herself that if she couldn't do math, then she had to learn how to write. She ended up not pursuing law, either. Abby decided to write for The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper. She also became active in community service, ultimately getting her degree in government. What got her hooked on journalism was a school-sponsored public service trip to Oxford, Jackson and Sunflower County, Mississippi tracing the civil rights movement. She grew fascinated with it and wanted to be one of the journalists who brought the Deep South to the rest of the country.
Abby’s peers describe her as being more “reserved” than the typical reporter.
Abby describes herself as being a quiet child. After returning to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago at age nine, she was self-conscious about her accent so she didn't say much in class. Abby's teacher would send notes home to her parents saying that she needed to speak up. But that didn't deter her from excelling in a field dominated by more vocal peers who don't share our gender and/or look like us.
Today she still stands out from the crowd for her "poise" and "self-possession." John Harris, co-founder of Politicotold The New York Times that Abby has always been "very quiet and ambitious, but she doesn't present in a flamboyant way like some ambitious people do."
However, that makes her observant and means she can be very analytical in her approach to her questions and she can offer profound but relatable commentary. CNN's political director David Chalian said:
"Abby has an intellect that is unmatched and she has a pretty unique ability to synthesize information quickly both in her reporting and her analysis, and deliver it in a way that meets the viewers where they are."
Abby never wanted to be on television.
As much as she loves Oprah, Abby doesn't have Oprah goals, meaning there's no talk show in her future. Abby didn't ever want her job to be about her appearance; she simply wanted to write the stories.
"Being a Black woman as a print reporter was not always front and center. Before Twitter, people wouldn't have really known I was a Black woman. The thing about being on TV is that, that becomes a part of who you are."
She’s writing a book on Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Abby wants to remind us that Black political power is still growing and that it didn't peak during the Obama years. In her book, she talks about the origin of Black political power beginning with Jackson's presidential candidacy and his place as a civil rights and political figure. She'll also produce some old receipts such as the one where he was once an international hostage negotiator. How many of us forgot all about that?!
"Political history is rarely told by Black people. His story deserves a retelling."
Abby's book is scheduled to be released spring/summer 2022 in time for midterm elections.
Abby may indirectly credit 45’s administration for making her an even better journalist.
Abby covered our forever POTUS' time in the White House but what she finds with this administration is that she spends so much time – sometimes days! – trying to get to the facts and she does want to be fair. She also wants to be accurate and on-point with her questions because she also notices that questioning from Black women seems to set 45 off quicker than questioning from other reporters. He'll go back-and-forth with reporters of other genders, who again don't look like us, but when it comes to Abby, Yamiche Alcindor or April Ryan, things go left immediately.
Of course, we know that 45 will gladly take credit for Abby's journalistic prowess and say the rest is just fake news. Let him tell it, he answers all questions politely and thoroughly. But what we do know to be true is that come January, Abby Phillip will still be covering the White House. And 45? Well, he'll be ushered out of it.
For more of Abby, follow her on Instagram at @abbydphillip.
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