Michel Martin, the National Public Radio correspondent best known for her coverage of issues related to race and identity, delivered the 20th Mullin Welch Lecture at the Biomedical Science Research Building on Wednesday.

Martin is not the first influential journalist to deliver the lecture, which is hosted by the University’s Center for the Education of Women. Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times, gave the speech in 2013.

In previous years, Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” and Attorney Sarah Weddington, who argued to legalize abortion in the landmark case Roe v. Wade, were the selected speakers.

At the event, CEW also awarded the Carol Hollenshead Award to Obstetrics and Gynecology Prof. Edward Goldman as well as to Sandra Gregerman, the director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. The award acknowledges individuals at the University who promote equity and social change.

Martin began her address by recounting historical advancements, including lowering the voting age, the election of the first Black mayor in Detroit and the invention of in vitro fertilization. She used these examples to demonstrate the impact individuals have had and still do have on the environments they inhabit.

“The world was changing even then as it is now,” she said.

Martin also spoke about her experiences reporting for the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and Nightline, as well as hosting the NPR show, “Tell Me More,” which was one of the few public radio programs designed to primarily appeal to audiences of color. When the show was canceled as a result of budget cuts in 2014, many media critics saw the decision as a loss for coverage of diversity. Martin remains with NPR as a special correspondent focused on race, identity and gender, among other issues.

In her lecture, wielded her journalistic experience to discuss the current state of news media.

“We as a country and we very much in the media are still figuring out who has a voice and who does not,” Martin said.

She also spent time promoting the importance of listening to all voices and not silencing minority opinions. To understand the full truth in a story, Martin said all different perspectives and narratives must be heard.

“Listen to voices that make us uncomfortable because they are not going away,” Martin said.

She also discussed the ways she thinks news media should change to better reflect the nation’s population. Martin said heterosexual white men are more represented in media even though they are not the majority of the population and urged attendees to work toward changing media.

“I hold all of us responsible for failing to demand a discourse … with the kind of realism about the world that we know exists,” she said.

Martin concluded her lecture with tips on how to start conversations on difficult subjects. She emphasized listening to others as well as asking thoughtful questions. Martin encouraged attendees to recognize that they are engaging in difficult work.

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