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Defining Legacy: In Memory of Janice Mcknight-Magona

REMEMBERING AN IMPORTANT CHAPTER IN HILLTOP HISTORY.

By Jaylin Paschal

 

Janice Mcknight-Magona, a 1984 graduate of Howard University’s School of Communications, passed away Nov. 30 after a long illness.

Mcknight-Magona served as the editor-in-chief of The Hilltop during her time at Howard. Her work lead to her expulsion, after she published a series of articles covering sex discrimination on campus. These articles caused a tension between the student newspaper and the university administration, especially after Mcknight-Magona continued to publish these stories after being urged by university president, James Cheek, to discontinue the series.

Her expulsion made headlines and sparked an important conversation on First Amendment rights to freedom of the press while a student of a private (though federally funded) university. The incident was covered by national publications such as the The Washington Post and The New York Times. Fellow journalists and students protested against her expulsion.

Though a complicated case– made more so by Mcknight-Magona’s preparation to go to trial to argue for her reinstatement as a student and editor of The Hilltop, and a D.C. Superior Court’s ruling that her expulsion legal– President Cheek decided to allow Mcknight-Magona to return to the university. Her remaining eligibility to participate on The Hilltop was decided by a policy board composed of administration, faculty and students.

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After Howard, Mcknight-Magona went on to work on the first Million Man March, serve as the legislative correspondent for Senator Arlen Spector and work as the Public Relations Director for the National Council of Negro Women under Dr. Dorothy I. Height’s presidency.

A memorial service for Mcknight-Magona will be held Dec. 14 at 7474 Landover Rd. Hyattsville, MD 20785 from 12:30-2:30. 

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