As a journalist, it’s rare enough to be able to write about someone you like, let alone your best friend, but this week’s Black New Yorker meets both criteria. Jimmie Briggs is an award-winning journalist (and former AmNews contributor), author and, most recently, activist and co-founder of the Man Up Campaign, which seeks to educate youth around the world about the issue of gender violence and empower them to fight it in their own communities.
A Morehouse graduate, Briggs settled down in New York from his native Missouri in 1994 when he came to work for Life magazine. His first story was a big one: an in-depth investigation of Gulf War Syndrome. He would go on to cover many hard hitting stories at Life, including the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“I felt more fulfilled by those stories,” Briggs said about why he devoted himself to telling the hard stories so many others shied away from. “I felt like I wanted to do more, especially as a journalist of color.”
His work led him to take a special interest in children and conflict as well as the issue of gender violence. In 2004, he and I returned to Rwanda to report on the 10th anniversary of the country’s genocide for the AmNews and several other Black newspapers. In 2005, Briggs published “Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go to War,” which explored how children are used in and impacted by conflict in Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Uganda, Columbia and Afghanistan.
After years of traveling the globe and going into conflict areas, Briggs says he felt burnt out. “My fatigue and frustration with journalism began to outweigh the fulfillment I had gotten from it, but I still wanted to continue to work on these important social issues.”
He went on to co-found the Man Up Campaign. The campaign kicked off during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa by bringing together more than 100 young activists from around the globe to learn, engage one another and build an international network.
For Briggs, telling the stories of those who are most vulnerable and empowering them to stand up for themselves isn’t simply a profession, it’s a way of life.
For more information about the Man Up Campaign and Briggs, visit www.man